Are you already in charge of your own health?

More and more Finns are determined to monitor and improve their wellbeing. Inclusive technology and health coaches are useful tools to this end.

Social and health care reform or individual doctors cannot solve the health challenges of a Finland that is ageing, gaining weight and getting depressed. The key is everyone’s own activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Olli Sovijärvi, a physician, entrepreneur and a spokesperson for holistic medicine, estimates that an entirely new kind of infrastructure is gradually developing in addition to the current system that focuses on curing illnesses. It is a system that maintains health, where each person collects and produces information about their health, supports their mental and physical health with regular check-ups and wants to take responsibility for their own wellbeing.

“The question is, do you want to be in charge of your own life and take responsibility? Luckily, a growing number of people answer yes. Active operators do not victimise themselves and expect a doctor to fix their problems”, says Sovijärvi.

Health technology is part of everyday life

More and more Finns are measuring and collecting personal data with various health technology applications and tests. Many smart devices and apps have been developed in Finland.

Constant measurements add a new dimension to support patient data and the growing knowledge about genomes. Devices, such as wristwatches or rings, and sensors can be used to measure e.g. physical activity, sleep, recovery, and stress. The important thing is to observe changes in our body in real time.

“Wristbands can measure heart rate variability around the clock and help to detect atrial fibrillation, for example, better than the traditional methods. Nowadays, near clinical quality ECGs can be recorded with wrist devices. The quality and technology used in recording devices intended for consumers and patients is starting to be very high,” says Sovijärvi.

Coaches help individuals

When the amount of health data grows, it becomes essential to understand what this data means for your own health. Interfaces allow sharing the collected data with healthcare professionals, such as  physical therapists, nutrition experts and coaches, but also physicians. Overall, Sovijärvi believes the work of physicians will focus more and more on the prevention of illness and maintaining of health.

“Future physicians are listeners and interlocutors who make decisions with the patients and keep the big picture in mind. The aim is to work together to promote the patient’s overall health and wellbeing.”

Clinics already offer medical services using a coaching model familiar from gyms, where a monthly fee buys you a certain number of consultation visits. The service promise is not to solve acute problems but to keep the customer healthy.