Kuopio Health Board blog: Juha Töyräs
“Every euro invested in research creates nearly four euros. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity!”
We cannot afford to not invest in research
We’re on the cusp of a major change, as the wellbeing services counties began their operations in early 2023. This was one of the biggest transfers of business in the history of Finland; the Wellbeing Services County of North Savo alone employs over 12,000 employees. The wellbeing services county is an immeasurably valuable contributor to the impacts of Kuopio Health: No one has a better view of the development needs or better opportunities to create, evaluate and develop new health innovation than the thousands of healthcare professionals working for the wellbeing services county. Their clients are patients who will reap the benefits of the innovations. For instance, the clinical research carried out in the wellbeing services counties is absolutely vital to the development of pharmaceutical technology. The wellbeing services county is also a major healthcare technology contractor and user, which makes it a significant client to the companies in the field.
One euro creates four euros
Lack of funding has been one of the main themes discussed in the context of establishing the wellbeing services counties. In this challenging situation, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that an evidence-basis, effectiveness and safety are all founded on competence built on research knowledge. Is there enough understanding of the fact that investing in research is vital to the success of not only the wellbeing services county but the entire region? While focusing all investments on service production may seem like an attractive choice in the midst of financial challenges, this would be dangerously short-sighted. It would threaten our ability to hold onto the top competence we’ve been able to attract to the region and endanger the attractiveness of the wellbeing services county as an employer that allows employees to use both the latest approaches as well as their brains.
It is crucial that, in the long run, the responsibility and vision for the future of the wellbeing services county will defeat any fears related to short-term uncertainty. When times are tough, we need strategic wisdom and the ability to set our sights far ahead in the future. In 2022, we carried out a survey with ESiOR Oy to examine the significance of research and innovation activities in the Hospital District of Northern Savo. According to the survey results, the activities have extremely wide-ranging impacts, producing net benefits measured in terms of finances, activities and health amounting to tens of millions of euros each year. Every euro invested in research creates nearly four euros. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity!
Research is required by law
Under legislation, the second main task of a university hospital operating in a wellbeing services county is education, research, development and innovation activities. Lawmakers have understood just how necessary research is to the social and healthcare sector. We cannot afford ineffective care or outdated diagnostics. In the wellbeing service county, every employee has the duty, and hopefully also an opportunity, to promote research. Research knowledge is behind the effectiveness, safety and impacts of our activities. Research is also a prerequisite for making our region attractive to companies.
Our aim must be to ensure that the Wellbeing Services County of North Savo is the most business-friendly and flexible wellbeing services county. This also makes financial sense. For instance, drug research benefits our wellbeing services county annually by around EUR 20 million. The total net benefit of research and innovation is around EUR 40 million. The benefits gained from clinical drug trials include free drugs and appointments, imaging and laboratory tests paid for by pharmaceutical companies. For patients, this is visible as being among the first to gain access to new, more effective medications. Drug research carried out in cooperation with businesses produces better health outcomes and also frees up resources for those patients not participating in the drug trials in various ways. This creates a virtuous circle that produces positive health impacts and benefits.
Vitality from research to the whole region
Why is research so important to impacts and performance? When we act wisely, we’ll be able to develop a health and social services system that is as effective as possible, gain access to the latest and most effective treatments and attract the best professionals to carry them out. Research is not a burden – it’s the solution. An efficient and effective wellbeing services county can benefit society in many ways, promoting health and welfare, attracting innovations and top talent, and bringing opportunities to the companies in the region – creating vitality to the whole of Eastern Finland.