24.5. 2013 Kuukauden kasvo

Well-being technology brings ICT and health care professionals together

New technology is being more and more utilised in health care. Defending her doctoral thesis on health care in the spring, Heljä Lundgrén-Laine knows the opportunities and challenges offered by well-being technology in the development of health care and nursing.

New technology is becoming a more and more important field of expertise in health care. It opens up opportunities for high-quality health care services and enables their implementation more cost-efficiently than before. At the same time, the new applications of well-being technology make it easier for the patients to monitor and take care of their health by themselves. In our area, the Hospital District of Southwest Finland, Turku University of Applied Sciences and University of Turku are working closely together to utilise the information and well-being technologies in the health care work.

One of the experts in this special field is Heljä Lundgrén-Laine, D.Sc. (Health Care), in Turku. She says that she has always been interested in technology, and working as a nurse in the intensive care unit which involves plenty of technology made her even more interested in it. After working as a nurse for more than 15 years she began her studies of health care sciences at the University of Turku in 2005. This spring she defended her doctoral thesis on health care and began her work as development head nurse in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland.

“In the office of health care services of the Hospital District we focus on teaching as well as research and development work. At the moment I am leading our group of four planners in our office located in the EuroCity building. The office staff also comprises three Patient Ombudsmen and the museum curator of the hospital museum. Moreover, three professors of nursing science of the University of Turku have a part-time post of head nurse in this office”, Ms Lundgrén-Laine explains.

Participating in the IKITIK consortium

Ms Lundgrén-Laine participates in a number of different projects linked with well-being technology. About eight years ago, the Louhi project financed by Tekes was looking for ways to utilise the content of patient documentation with the help of intelligent software. After the project had ended, the activities of the IKITIK consortium were commenced. IKITIK is the abbreviation of the Finnish name of the consortium, i.e. Information and language technology to support health information and communication. Awarded with the ICT prize of the Turku Chamber of Commerce a few years ago, IKITIK aims at speeding up the utilisation of health information in nursing through new and innovative language technology solutions.

“IKITIK emphasises the value chain thinking according to which the manufacturers of products and equipment, researchers and end users are working together. The consortium has participated in a variety of projects aiming at developing the new technology to help the health care personnel.”

The multi-disciplinary Mobster project has also developed applications for dictation and communication and tested them in practice. Researchers in health care science, linguistics, computer science and information and language technology coming from the Nordic and Baltic countries have, working in the HEXAnord network of researchers, studied the differences found in the texts of electronic patient documents.

Getting rid of the yellow Post-it notes

Approved at the end of March, Ms Lundgrén-Laine’s doctoral thesis dealt with enterprise resource planning system for contact management which are needed alongside patient information systems.

“I mapped out the needs of information in the whole country. The yellow Post-it notes still seemed to be a very common method of the superiors distributing the resources. However, their needs could be compared with air-traffic controllers, who must constantly be aware of what is happening around them, as well as the ability to make quick decisions for saving lives.”

The pressure for creating efficient solutions for the health care branch has been continuously increasing.

“There is plenty of information, but it seems to be in the wrong place all the time. Utilising intelligent, already existing technology to create a functional operating environment at the same time seems to be impossible, and it seems that the users’ voices are not listened to as they should. Therefore, it is no wonder that the personnel is getting frustrated.”

Quality management, patient safety and efficiency make the development work challenging. Nevertheless, safety does not seem to be so difficult a bottleneck as the interfaces between different systems and applications, which the information has to cross.

“So far, opening of the interfaces has been slow, although e.g. Sitra has spoken for it. The problems are related to the management of large entities: the customer does not know what should be ordered, while the suppliers do not know the contents. Moreover, the needs for information are very different, at least in special nursing”, Ms Lundgrén-Laine estimates.

Skiing in deep snow and on tracks

Heljä Lundgrén-Laine’s family consists of her husband Olli and their 22-year-old son Ville. The family lives in the Hurttivuori district in Turku.

“I was born in Lauttakylä, Huittinen. However, we have been living in Turku for about twenty years, and feel at home here.”

Sports and exercise help Heljä to take her mind away from work and new technology. Jogging, cycling and skiing are important hobbies for her. And, should the work with well-being technology end, she could well be working as a guide on nature and wilderness tours. She took the Nature and Wilderness Guide’s examination at the beginning of the 2000s. She even has a hunting licence and a certificate for participating in the deep snow cross-country skiing world championships in Posio.

“We usually go skiing and hiking in the North about twice a year. A week without the mobile phone is good for you. The map and compass are the most technical devices I use there”, Heljä says.

Heljä Lundgrén-Laine
- Born in Huittinen in 1967
- Worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit for 15 years
- Doctor of Science (Health Care), spring 2013
- Works as development head nurse in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland
- Lives in Turku, married with a grown-up son