Front page » News » Terve! -Podcast episode: Finnish social and health care system from the expat’s view


Terve! -Podcast episode: Finnish social and health care system from the expat’s view

In celebration of the International Podcast Day 30th September, we published a special episode of NHG’s podcast Terve! (Healthy and Hi! in Finnish) discussing how the Finnish social and healthcare system looks like from an expat’s point of view. The CEO of Nordic Healthcare Group, James Campbell joins our host Mika Kaartinen as guest.

Jamie was an exchange student in Mynämäki – a smalltown in Western Finland – 30 years ago and loved his time there, especially the Finnish nature and hockey, which resembled his home country Canada. About a year and half ago Jamie got a recruitment call which led him to Nordic Healthcare Group. According to Jamie, Finland has become more international in 30 years, and he appreciates the atmosphere in his new hometown Helsinki.

Jamie has over 20 years of experience in consulting in different industries around the world. A life event introduced him to the significance of healthcare when his daughter became a chronic patient. He realized how important it is to drive impact and create value for patients.

Jamie mentions the importance of looking abroad and understanding similarities and differences between the systems. His first surprise in Finland was the privatization leveraging since Nordics has a reputation of an all-public social system. Another surprising fact was the combination of health and social care. Many countries have a disconnection between these, and the combination could be utilized by other countries. Jamie also mentions that there’s always opportunity to build and improve more.

To get the right kind of care for citizens, we still have a long way to go. There are a lot of triages with public and private healthcare. The healthcare systems all over the world need to improve in continuity of care, and customer service.

Jamie has been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland in his role. Challenges are common with municipalities, hospitals, innovation hubs and data experts. There is much to share between the countries and there is a will to work more jointly. Sharing would bring benefits and open opportunities for all.

Governments in Western countries put more and more money into the system at an incremental rate, but we are not necessarily seeing the impact. Another combining fact is the aging population. All our collective countries are facing this individually on municipality, regional and national level. The potential in digitalization and privatization could help to tackle these challenges. This forms the basis for the radical change hitting all the countries and healthcare systems.

When Jamie was working in pharma, he got to see the healthcare system in developing countries, too. He mentions as an important reminder that while there are a lot of improvements to be made in the Western countries, our system and care are at a very good level. In Africa, there are still challenges in getting access to medicine or in some areas, there is no access to medical care at all. Jamie is encouraged that the international organizations and consortiums are looking for ways to make better access to social and health care and taking learnings from developed countries to customize them to the developing countries.

Jamie moved to Finland in the middle of the health and social services reform. He has seen the reform in Finland at first hand since NHG is working with it. Similar reforms have also been done in Canada. For the reform to be successful, all stakeholders should be involved and understand the change. A key learning for Jamie from the previous reforms around the world is that while the reform has been rolled out, there is still much work to be done on the change journey to make it reality.

Jamie’s observations are calling upon other industries making radical change, is that there comes a time where there is a shortage of resources. People who are trying to maintain care are often the same people, who are responsible for managing the change in business operations. From the reform’s perspective, there is right now a shortage of workforce everywhere. Not only do we need to maintain the operations and quality of care but ask the same people to change. Healthcare providers should think about who could be leveraged from outside to help. Jamie encourages us to think outside of the expertise that sits in the system today: what kind of expertise would we need to deliver this?

Possibilities with technology is Jamie’s passion and he sees huge potential in digitalization. It will radically change social and healthcare systems, but changes take time. It will not happen in days or weeks and not only with a single innovation but needs to be fitted it into the day-to-day work. For digitalization, we need all stakeholders collaborating.

Jamie mentions that the word “data” is overused, and he wants to emphasize that citizens’ personal data privacy and security needs to be protected. The data discussed here does not mean personal data but big data, which can be utilized for understanding and preventing diseases. Data could help to understand future trends instead of waiting for hospitalization. This is still a utopia, but Jamie feels real value in driving this outcome for the citizens and patients.

The future for social and healthcare and the possibilities need a mindset change. Prevention could be a huge game changer. The prevention results can already be seen, for example, with diabetes. Could we start building unified horizontal between all stakeholders? There are only a few countries that already have connected system and utilized the potential, and Finland is one of them.

Jamie says that it has been a great year in Finland as the CEO of Nordic Healthcare Group. He is excited about NHG’s work and vision to drive impact and outcomes for the social and healthcare system. He enjoys working with different stakeholders. As an expat, Jamie thinks Finland is a fun and exciting country, and from his Mynämäki exchange experience he got the Finnish “sisu” (resilience), which lives in him still today.

The passion for his work comes from the hope that in the future there will be improved impact for individuals like his daughter, and we get to see how our work improves the lives of everyone. And that’s also NHG’s vision. Impact can be made every day. Working with all different people also inspires Jamie, and seeing the work done together to improve healthcare for us all.

Listen the episode here.