In the Helsinki metropolitan area, 10% of patients use 80% of health care resources. Most of them suffer from one or more chronic diseases—and often encounter problems in accessing, planning and communicating with treatment providers.
“Modern Western health care is designed on the terms of short and intensive treatment periods, not on the terms of those with chronic illnesses,” explains Paul Lillrank, Professor of Quality and Service Management at Aalto University. He runs the Business Finland and company-funded MASSE project, which aims to create a virtual care management system, the so called Virtual Care Operator (VCO), in just over two years to support the personalized and cost-effective treatment of long-term illnesses.
“The care management system is like a virtual family doctor who looks after the implementation of care plans for patients with long-term diseases,” says Lillrank.
The good care of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or asthma, consists of several parts. In order for the patient to receive the right treatment at the right time, a lot of information and arrangements are needed: appointments, the collection and interpretation of patient data, contact between various experts, medicine balance monitoring and mental support. If the patient suffers from more than one disease, the need for coordination will further increase.
“We will first build the care management system for those suffering from one disease and then expand it to support many people in need of various social welfare and health care services,” says Paulus Torkki, Associate Professor of Healthcare Operations Management at the University of Helsinki.
Personalized treatment with mass-production efficiency
In practice, the care management system combines all the data collected from the patient’s different care paths onto the same platform. It monitors the development of the patient’s condition based on data, coordinates treatment appointments, and collects feedback from the patient. The platform will be built as a joint innovation of the project companies’ development work and research, and the platform will be combined with devices, therapies and digital care pathways developed by the partner companies. The virtual care management system benefits actors responsible for organizing services, such as hospital districts, municipalities, insurance companies and occupational health care.