Kaija Saranto1, Eija Kivekäs1, Pasi Kuosmanen2, and Ulla-Mari Kinnunen1
1 University of Eastern Finland, Department of Health and Social Management, Finland
2 Kuopio University Hospital, Finland
During the last 20 years, the Finnish government has made significant endeavours to establish a digital ecosystem. The latest example is the Virtual Hospital 2.0 program, which is one of the key projects of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland. It is a specialised care service developed in cooperation with patients and professionals providing virtual care similar to an outpatient visit. Patients and citizens are experienced Internet users, and they prefer the Internet because it provides easy access to information.
During the last 20 years, the Finnish government has made significant endeavours to establish a digital ecosystem. KanTa is a core service in this development. This national health data archive includes patient data repository including case summaries, outpatient care records, and “My Kanta pages”, where patient can see his/her medical records and electronic prescriptions. ePrescription can be renewed through “My Kanta-pages”.
Currently, the Virtual Hospital 2.0 program is one of the key projects of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland. The program will change health services access significantly. The aim in the collaboration of all Finnish university hospitals is to design and implement a national Health Village, which provides virtual care similar to an outpatient visit. By 2018, the Health Village will contain 30 hubs, including mental health, women’ s health, rehabilitation, heart, allergy and asthma, pain management, and surgery, that citizens and outpatients can visit to gather information and support.
What is a Health Village? Healthvillage.fi is a specialised care service developed together with patients. It includes also tools for professionals. In concrete, if our services today are professional centered, in the future in Health Village, the services will be patient and client centered. Health Village has been developed in cooperation with the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, the Hospital District of Southwest Finland, the Hospital District of Northern Savo, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.
Patients and citizens are experienced Internet users. Although patients trust their physicians, due to their expertise and experience, they prefer the Internet because it provides easy access to information. According to our study concerning outpatients’ and citizens’ motivation and willingness to move to this type of service, the results are encouraging. Of the respondents 95% (n=112) had used the ePrescription system, 64% had checked their lab results, 60% had experienced electronic appointment booking, and 66% had reviewed their medical case summaries on the “My Kanta” service. More than 60% found eServices easy to learn and use, 60% were motivated to use eServices in the future, and 65% were confident of the effect this service will have on service provision.
Overall, the respondents’ experiences of the eServices on the “My Kanta” were positive. It is difficult to evaluate the usefulness of the eServices if one do not have any experience of the service usage. However, based on the results there is a strong foundation for future virtual care, information, and support for outpatients and citizens.
Prior to the adoption of eServices, it is crucial by service providers to supply the citizens up-to-date informative materials and support, so that they are able to effectively use these virtual services. Based on our results, citizens have the knowledge and skills necessary to use eServices, but they may not have had the option to use them previously. Further, eServices cannot fully replace face-to-face services; they can only complement the range of existing services. Obviously, implementation of eServices requires new competencies among health care professionals. These competencies consist not only of skills to use electronic systems but also of abilities to work in multidisciplinary teams together with citizens.
1. Clarke, M, Moore, JL, Steege, LM, Koopman, RJ, Belden, JL, Canfield, SM, Meadows, SE, Elliott, SG, Kim, MS. Health information needs, sources, and barriers of primary care patients to achieve patient-centered care: A literature review. Health Informatics Journal, 2016; 22:4:992–1016.
2. Coughlin, SS, Prochaska, JJ, Williams, LB, Besenyi, GM, Heboyan, V, Goggans, DS, Yoo, W, De Leo, G. Patient web portals, disease management, and primary prevention. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 2017; 10 33–40.
3. Ammenwerth, E, Schnell-Inderst, P, Hoerbst, A. The Impact of Electronic Patient Portals on Patient Care: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. J Med Internet Res. 2012; Nov-Dec: 14:6:e162.
4. Hyppönen, H, Hämäläinen, P, Reponen, J. (eds.) E-health and ewelfare of Finland. Checkpoint 2015. National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Report 18/2015, 155 pages. Helsinki, Finland. Available: https://www.julkari.fi/handle/10024/129709
5. KANTA service. 2017. Available: http://www.kanta.fi/en/
6. Virtual Hospital Programme. 2017. Available: https://www.mielenterveystalo.fi/en/Pages/default.aspx (example in English) and https://www.terveyskyla.fi/ (in Finnish)