Finnish health tech innovators feel the COVID-19 effect

Demand for tech solutions has soared in Finland during the pandemic as healthcare providers seek new ways to diagnose and treat patients, and source properly tested PPE.
By Piers Ford
08:25 am

Credit: Getty Images

Finnish health tech businesses have enjoyed a pandemic lift with more than half reporting a positive impact during the spring as the crisis unfolded, according to a survey carried out by Health Capital Helsinki, the alliance that supports growth, collaboration and international investment in the country’s innovator community.

The alliance asked the 57 SMEs on its list of Finnish COVID-19-related health tech innovators about the effect of the pandemic on their business, strategy and future plans. While 53% of 30 respondents said the impact has been positive, there have also inevitably been some frustrations, with business disrupted by travel restrictions and the overwhelming demands on healthcare customers’ resources.

Innovators in remote healthcare, diagnostics and communications have been feeling the greatest benefits as the need for solutions, tests and equipment among healthcare providers and research laboratories escalated rapidly during the early stages of the pandemic.

“According to our study, it seems that Finland has followed the global trend in COVID-19,” said Lauri Kuronen, business advisor, Health Capital Helsinki. “Winning companies are the ones with a solution for digital health or diagnostics or the ones that have been able to adjust their business quickly. The acute crisis has made the demand for novel digital solutions in healthcare go through the roof, and the new solutions will stay in use from now on.”

High impact

Customers with new needs, the arrival of new customers and other opportunities arising from such a sudden and unexpected event are driving a shift in business strategy. Forty per-cent of respondents reported a range of impacts including a rapid rise in revenues and growth, market reassessment to align with fresh opportunities.

One company, SAAS emergency alert platform developer Secapp, reported a 60% increase in business as customers looked for ways to collect and report information about regional outbreak numbers, ICU capacity and patient numbers, and the adequacy of PPE.

Accredited testing services for PPE were also in demand, with specialist Measur observing that it has tested the performance of materials and products for “tens” of different vendors, including those Finnish producers who were new to the market.

The new normal

In Finland as elsewhere, there has been a particularly high demand for remote healthcare tech as COVID-19 has forced health systems and service providers to find ways to deliver patient care virtually. Cloud analytics specialist Cardiolyse was unequivocal about what this means for the future.

“COVID-19 is the new normal and remote healthcare services for patients with chronic disease will be booming,” said the company.

Business experience during the pandemic also seems to have inspired a new confidence about expansion in new markets – domestic and international – and the possibility of more business operations and supply chains.

Ascom, whose healthcare platform collects critical patient data from medical devices to help clinicians make informed decisions in an acute environment, reported the benefits of more streamlined and remote sales processes, as well as the use of virtual meetings.

“Crisis is always an opportunity for some, if you are agile and able to pivot fast,” said Kuronen. “As a tip for startups in the future, take into consideration and play with various scenarios of your business as part of your strategy planning. Then it’s easier to react and scale your business, whatever happens.”


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