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Blog 21.12.2022

Crisis-prone health care and the national economy – what needs to be done?

The aging of the population in developed countries is a ticking time bomb from the point of view of both the health care system and the national economy – for two reasons. Firstly, aging will lead to an unprecedented erosion of the tax base and, secondly, to an exponential increase in the costs of health care and the care sector.
Sampo Sammalisto

Head of Personalized Health Finland
sampo.sammalisto (at)
+358 50 584 1100

The fact is that aging increases the prevalence of nearly all expensive national diseases in society, such as cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, and brain diseases. At its worst, these diseases deprive the individual of their ability to function independently and sentences them to expensive hospital care or nursing home care.

Our current western health care system is actually an “illness care system” – health problems are only addressed when they begin to impair normal functioning. At this point, the course of the disease is often already irreversible. This approach was still somewhat economically viable when our demographics resembled a pyramid instead of the current muffin.

With our current age structure, this model is far too expensive, and it must be transformed as soon as possible to avoid excessive national debt and the collapse of our health care system. The problem is further exacerbated by the labor intensity of the current model, which is already manifested by, for example, the shortage of nurses.

What is the solution?

Simple solutions have already been tried, and the road of incremental innovations has come to an end. The only solution is to transform the current “illness care system” into genuine health care. We need to move from treating diseases to maintaining health and wellbeing.

  • We need to anticipate and predict health problems in good time and target preventive measures at an early stage when the disease can still be reversed.
  • As the ability to function inevitably decreases with old age, we must help the elderly live a good life at home as long as possible.
  • We cannot eradicate diseases completely, but instead of “one size fits all” therapies, we need to learn how to treat diseases more individually, making treatment both more effective and more economical.

How are we going to achieve this?

The answer lies in the strengths of Finland: world-class medical research, appropriate collection and utilization of health information, sensor and mobile technology, and world-class digital expertise.

We now have a hundred billion dollar opportunity to develop the technological solutions that will address these global problems. The only question is whether we are prepared to make the necessary investment before our competitors.

It is time to act now.

The blog is part of Business Finland’s thematic strategy work, which identifies sustainable future growth opportunities for Finland. Business Finland has selected five areas to focus on over the next few years. This blog demonstrates the growth potential of comprehensive health and wellbeing.

Please also take a look at the thoughts of our Strategy Director and the background of our work – why did we make the choices we made?