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New funding for the Finnish Digital Health Revolution

oulu university digital health

Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes) has granted funding for continuing the Digital Health Revolution project. The newly admitted funding of 2,5 million € raised the total budget of the project near to 10 M€.

The project aims to find new ways to support individual in maintaining his/her health and well-being.

”We are building both the technological infrastructure and novel MyData based services, through which individuals are able to make the most of their own health and wellbeing data. We are also constantly gathering companies interested to be involved in this development work”, Maritta Perälä-Heape, Director of Centre for Health and Technology (CHT) says.

The pilot study of the project was launched earlier this autumn. Around 100 healthy volunteers using occupational health care services were recruited to the study aiming to test and develop how comprehensive health, wellness and lifestyle monitoring data (including digital footprint data) as well as genomic-, metabolomic- and microbiome data can be collected, processed and returned back to individuals as a new service for life coaching.

“We will find out if diseases can be prevented and individuals motivated to change their lifestyle by returning their health data and coaching them.  We expect that we will uncover previously unknown, actionable insights on the health of individuals and will be able to individually guide, motivate and facilitate the participants to undertake and maintain lifestyle changes”, Senior Researcher Riitta Sallinen from Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM, University of Helsinki) says.

Medical care is strictly regulated

Although new businesses around wellness applications, self-care and wearable technology are booming, the integration of digital technology with existing healthcare processes has been painfully slow. Medical care is strictly regulated and the security and privacy aspects of data sharing need to be thoroughly taken into account. Finland, where radical health care reform is on-going (the public health care system is changed from municipality centered system to five special responsibility areas), can be a forerunner in taking the steps towards exploitation of individual health and wellbeing data as part of the preventive healthcare. A new strategy for information and data management in health and social care is in preparation and the Finnish Government Program states that “Finland will strengthen citizen’s right to monitor and control the use of their personal data, and at the same time guarantee the fluid exchange of data between public authorities.”

Moving towards MyData utilization requires cooperation between several parties. “We are constantly negotiating about cooperation with different ministries, Sitra (the Finnish Innovation Fund) and the Data Protection Ombudsman of European Union.  From the public health care point of view we have big things going on, as the promises of preventive health care can only be fulfilled when health care and self-care becomes a seamless continuum”, Perälä-Heape says.

Global business opportunities

Digital Health Revolution is expected to open remarkable global business opportunities. Opening data for authorized access via digital interfaces (APIs), and novel type of authorization architecture creates new channels for SMEs and large businesses to reach new customers, and to develop services that fit true end user needs. New digital health domain solutions can be created more rapidly thanks to the novel architecture, analytics and visualization knowledge and tools licensed by default as open source libraries.

Digital Health Revolution project is coordinated by Centre for Health and Technology and involves project partners from Universities of Oulu, Helsinki, and Lapland, Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology and Technical Research Center of Finland. The project started in the year 2014 and will continue with the newly admitted funding until 2017.

Source: University of Oulu