The Finnish health and welfare sector has established a strategic expertise centre (T&H SHOK) focused on improving health and well-being using technology.

The new centre will be led by a limited company jointly established by 29 Finnish firms, including IT services firm Tieto.

The new centre is intended to improve the quality and efficiency of health-care and welfare services.

The goal of T&H SHOK is to develop products, services, and practices to prevent and treat diseases that strain the national economy as well as to maintain and improve the functional capacity of the individual. The new centre is also intended to boost the international competitiveness of Finnish companies.

The first programmes of the T&H SHOK initiative will begin in 2010. These will focus on three programmes will include: the healthy brain; intelligent monitoring of individual health and well-being; and obesity and related health challenges.

The areas of focus in the programme include intelligent biomarker combinations, combinations and integration of technology platforms, printable production methods, and solid testing environments.

The centre has two areas of focus for multidisciplinary development: the first involves using information well and strengthening new innovations; the second emphasises the development of data control and computing.

‘Health and welfare practices are reshaped as the information level and IT skills of citizens and the IT systems of professionals develop,” said T&H SHOK development director Jukka Kirjavainen, who represents Tieto on the board of directors.

Kirjavainen added: “Medical proof, and creating and demonstrating health benefits are becoming the key elements in both independent and professionally supported health management.”

Jouko Haapalahti, Orion Diagnostica Oy’s assistant vice-president in charge of the preparatory work for the Intelligent Monitoring of Individual Health and Well-being programme, said: “Finland offers excellent expertise for developing new intelligent tools to monitor individual health and well-being."

He added: "By combining diagnostic expertise with expertise in health-related biotech, nanotechnology, and information technologies, it is possible to develop easy-to-use and cost-efficient measuring devices not only for the use of health professionals but also for individual users and those around them.”