According to Researcher and Project Manager Tomi Malmström, the logic of operations management has not been utilised enough in healthcare services, even though engineers could have a lot to give especially from the process point of view.
The HEMA research group of Aalto University is participating in an EU framework programme for the first time. The criterion for selecting European partners was quality.
"We wanted our partners to be the top of the field. Erasmus University in the Netherlands was immediately identified as one, as they have published some of the key work in the field. We were also interested in geographic coverage and thus decided to ask for partners in England, Germany, Greece, France, Belgium and Spain."
"Networking in valuable in itself, and even writing applications created useful co-operation.
The co-operation between us and the Netherlands is at a whole new level now compared to what it was before the project", Malmström says.
Comparison between countries advances domestic research
"We study how regional healthcare systems in different EU countries affect the population's health and treatment costs. We do not have a research-based understanding of what factors affect healthcare processes and their costs from the perspective of operations management."
"Additionally, we have a methodological point of view; we wanted a unified model for comparing different patient groups and developing treatments. We sought to fill a scientific gap, but the results have led to practical advances, as we ended up co-operating with local operators. For example in the Netherlands and Greece, operators appeared to utilise our results in their own planning and practical processes", Malmström rejoices.
Malmström believes that, at the European level, regionality needs to be taken into account in a different way. "When we started looking for answers to our research questions in different countries, we noticed that we had not thought everything through. Merely studying Finland has not yielded data that could be generalised to other areas", Malmström estimates.
The practical running of the project and putting the results into practice has been implemented in co-operation with Forum Virium Helsinki. The development company has previous experience on framework programme applications, but CEO Jarmo Eskelinen does not believe it to be necessary.
"Of course it can be beneficial to have people who have made applications before, but this is not alchemy. Reporting also quickly becomes a routine that does not interfere with the actual research. For example Managed Outcomes received funding with the first application."
According to Eskelinen, the Commission gives clear boundaries and good advice.
He reminds that help can also be found in Finland.
"During the application process, Tekes's EUTI was a great help. National contacts have a clear picture of the contents of each application", Eskelinen says.
Tel. +358 50 511 2517
tomi.malmstrom (at) aalto.fi
Forum Virium Helsinki
Tel. +358 50 593 3441
jarmo.eskelinen (at) forumvirium.fi
Author: Anna-Mari Vimpari/Recommended Finland