Heidi Virta
Senior Director, Head of Region Latin America
Business Finland
/
Expert Contributor

Finland: The Best-Kept Secret in Healthcare

By Heidi-Marian Virta | Wed, 11/17/2021 - 08:58

What is behind a sound medical decision? In Finland, we would answer, “teamwork.” Medical science is more akin to the launch of rockets than most people think. We remember the first steps on the moon more often than the crowds of scientists who strived to make that possible. In medicine, new possibilities are making the work of doctors easier, more reliable, and more efficient, and the number of supporting people behind our front-facing doctors is growing enormously. Doctors are now the tip of the iceberg of modern health management.

Twenty years ago, genomic medicine was closer to the science fiction section of a bookshop than to our hospitals; today, many exciting building blocks for that wonderful branch of medicine are readily and affordably available commercially and many more are being commercially developed.

In one decade, computing power costs dramatically decreased, our laws on patient data anonymization evolved, acceptance by citizens to be part of big data health analysis has become commonplace, the costs and the quality of connectivity have made available constant monitoring, monitoring devices are a fraction of the cost they once were, and their functionalities so vast that they were unimagined just 10 years ago. And the cost of genomic analysis also has markedly decreased in the last 10 years.

Beyond the hospital, we should not ignore that the mathematics of biological networks, the physics of proteins, and the chemistry of synthetic biochemicals have evolved to a degree that has surprised us again and again over the last decade.

In Finland, we have been following all these developments and Business Finland has financed the development of technology and the creation of public-private partnerships with groups of companies to make the world a healthier place in a cost-effective and ethical manner.   

Our engineers, for example, are developing sensors to monitor the daily functioning of our bodies. A number of companies are very active in this field: Oura has developed a ring to keep track of well-being, BrainCare offers a device to monitor epilepsy, Kamu portable tools monitor asthma and Heart2Save tools monitor cardiac arrhythmia.

Computer science and image processing are key in the health sector, too. Some of our companies have been trying to make the work of surgeons and health practitioners easier: Adesante provides a virtual reality tool for surgery planning, while Varjo offers virtual reality goggles for clinical training and surgery planning.

We believe in the power of statistical significance and have created together with the world’s major pharmaceutical companies the FINNGEN project, where a growing genetic data bank of 500,000 individuals is used to perform genetic analysis that is expected to unlock the mechanisms behind various diseases and many of the processes behind aging.

I should also mention our digital precision cancer medicine project iCan, where we do research on molecular cellular profiling to analyze tumors, ex-vivo drug screening, single-cell RNA sequencing, T-Cell in-depth immune profiling, and much more. It is really exciting to see how arrangements of atoms in molecules can uncover the secret of sickness and health, and how science gives us hope in our relentless fight against cancer.

Health and happiness are the pillars of human dignity. We have taken healthcare very seriously. Our health system is considered one of the most efficient in the world, and our country has ranked as the happiest in the world for four straight years. We would love all countries to be just as healthy and happy. We would like to encourage Mexico’s healthcare professionals to partner with Finland, to share Mexico’s great wealth of medical expertise with us, and be part of a collective effort to enhance global health.

Photo by:   Business Finland