Healthy actions from Finland

How to turn health knowledge into actions, that’s a key question in the emerging Healthtech industry. Finnish companies are making healthy action as easy as child’s play.

30 Finnish healthtech startups presented their expertise at the Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, California at the beginning of October 2013. 13 of them recieved feedback from a panel of investors. Here are some tidbits from Team Finland presentations.

Gaming elements into therapy programmes

Consider Physiotherapy. Most people enjoy visiting their Physiotherapist: the attention, the stretching and the massage. But doing the prescribed exercises alone at home? Not so fun and not as easy.

Serious Games Finland provides a dramatic improvement in efficiency. “We add feedback to the patient and the therapist with motion tracking. This ensures the patient does the moves correctly and also provides a remote support possibility”, explains Chief Technology Mastermind Janne Niittymäki.

Serious Games Finland has a weighty partner in PhysioTools, the owner of the world’s largest physiotherapy exercise library and over one million served customers daily.

Instead of the traditional stick figures drawn on paper, the patient gets a program of animated personal exercises. While performing these in front of a device with a motion sensor, he will get instant corrections if movement is off target. The Physiotherapist can view the session remotely and send feedback to the patient, adjusting program if needed.

Feedback prevents injuries, speeds recovery and motivates the patient. In addition, the possibility to serve patients remotely brings significant cost savings.

In the first phase, the company uses Microsoft Kinect for Windows for motion tracking, a relatively inexpensive and readily available tool.

Currently, the company is developing gaming elements into therapy programmes. Mr Niittymäki visions therapy becoming one day as fun as playing Angry Birds or Wii Sports.

Corporate fitness

For employers and corporations, a fit and healthy workforce equals a productive workforce, which has created a business opportunity for technology aided corporate fitness offerings.

Imagine acquiring a whole age group of males as potential users of your service. For fitness community builder HeiaHeia this became reality as they acquired the Finnish Defense Forces as their customer. All next year’s conscripts received a letter in September, encouraging them to sign up for a pre-fitness program customized on top of HeiaHeia’s program.

With 130 corporate customers in 30 countries and individual users in 150 countries, HeiaHeia has grown with minimal outside funding in couple of years into a pioneer in providing a customizable motivation and teambuilding tool for companies. Oh yes, and there are those health benefits also.

“Early on, we learned that people are interested and motivated by the social aspect of exercise. A posting of a bear sighting during your morning run creates more connections and conversation than a posting of your heart rate”, notes Co-founder & CEO Jussi Räisänen.

HeiaHeia provides a lateral communication channel on a pleasant subject to employees across divisions and continents. In addition to boosting employee health, the connections work as a social glue that enhances work satisfaction.

Customers include TeliaSonera, Ericsson, PepsiCo, Janssen and the VR Group, the government owned Finnish railway company, as well as dozens of smaller companies.

Focusing on the individual employee, Laturi Corporation offers a unique way to measure fitness with an Energy Test. The result is an Energy Index, which tells the employee how many hours of productive time he has in a day. Results are enlightening.

“My own energy index tells me I have productive energy for 13 hours and 57 minutes out of 24”, reveals CEO Vesa Tornberg.  He shows on his mobile phone how he has improved his energy since the first indexing session, by focusing on improving his sleeping habits.

At times, the test reveals that a person has an energy index of eight hours – this would mean that after a workday, he or she would have no energy left for family or hobbies.  Laturi’s program pinpoints the areas where to focus to improve energy level.

Focus on Seniors

Caring for the elderly is not only a massive business opportunity, but also an area where more effective and affordable services are urgently needed worldwide.

Premia Solutions intends to be one of the problem solvers with an easy-to use, customizable interface that provides seniors a connection to caregivers, service providers, family and community. The interface works on devices that use the Android operating system, including tablets and smartphones.

Still in early stages, Premia is piloting its interface in a Finnish hospital and building connections with municipalities.  CFO Pasi Töytäri recieved feedback from a panel of investors, including a tip to take a look at opportunities in the Japanese market at the Health 2.0 Conference.

Spotifying Sports

Just about to go live in New York, SportSetter does not mind being called the ‘Spotify of Fitness’, the nickname it earned from a European financial publication. In native Helsinki, the service has thousands of active users.

SportSetter attracts fitness enthusiasts and amateurs alike with a social discovery element. Much like Spotify leads you to new music, SportSetter finds new and exciting fitness experiences.

“For service providers, we provide pre-qualified leads for zero out-of-pocket cost”, explains Co-founder Niko Karstikko.

SportSetter’s business model is based on a monthly subscription fee paid by the customer. In return, he or she gets exclusive, inexpensive or free trials from hundreds of activities and facilities. A week of yoga or a month’s health club membership, for example.

“There are so many fun ways to move, other than the treadmill”, points out Karsikko, vowing to help you find the ones you love.

Text: Marita Seulamo
Photos: Marita Seulamo and Pia Mörk


Finland is the hottest spot in Europe for health and wellness innovations,
September 30, 2013

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