Radical Health Thinkers meet and innovate in Helsinki

The Radical Health Festival is a new, international digital health conference that was organised for the very first time in the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre on 12-14 June 2023. With a varied programme and international audience, it was a truly collaborative pan-European event. The OuluHealth ecosystem answered the festival’s wake-up call and was one of the partners that brought the event to Helsinki. The ecosystem had an active role in planning, contributed to the programme and networked actively with other attendees. During the 3-day event, OuluHealth’s representatives enjoyed numerous thematic sessions, workshops, and discussions at the stand.

Why attend a conference if you can join a festival

The Radical Health Festival gathered about 1000 European health innovation ecosystem participants under one roof. They included policy-making authorities, public health agencies, patient organisations, hospitals, pharma and medtech groups, public and private insurers, as well as entrepreneurs, clinicians, health professionals, investors, academics, and more. The event was organised in cooperation with trusted content partners, such as the European Society of Cardiology, CHIME, SITRA, Frontiers Health, EHTEL, COCIR, ECHAlliance, Healthtech Finland, Health-ISAC, Health Capital Helsinki, and OuluHealth, just to mention a few. The festival aimed to revolutionise the health sector and create one of the largest European communities of innovators. It attracted attention to the challenges healthcare systems around the world are facing, such as ageing populations, shortages of healthcare professionals, lack of focus on prevention, probability of new pandemics, and adoption of innovations. The Radical Health Festival not only addressed these issues, but also generated discussion on how to stimulate radical changes by utilising collaboration, data, artificial intelligence, and innovations. The conference highlighted especially the importance of collaboration, which was compared to building a puzzle of expertise, where renowned content contributors offer their areas of expertise and networks of global experts.

‘It is all about collaboration and the future of health. That is why we want to provide a platform for all different actors and important stakeholders focusing on digitalising health. The goal was to try to answer the needs they may have. Whether it is learning, exchanging information, networking, finding new partnerships or getting investment to support their initiatives,’ said Pia Heikkurinen, Secretary General, Sitra.

The festival encouraged its participants to think outside of the box and engage in less formal interactions with individuals they usually may not have easy access to.

‘The event that we have organised is a successful international conference with 35 countries represented so the concept is attractive to attendees. I think the best thing about it is the atmosphere, which is rather informal. I can feel the excitement and positive attitude all around,’ added Heikkurinen.

The three-day programme was built around the themes of artificial intelligence, mental health, active ageing, cybersecurity, innovation, and the digitalisation of the health sector. The sessions featured about 185 speakers who presented their expertise and invaluable perspectives on the future of health in 4 captivating keynotes, panel discussions and workshops. In addition, the programme featured the theEC2VC Investor Forum, Pitch Competition and site visits to one of Europe’s largest simulation hospitals at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and a brand new Meilahti Bridge Hospital at HUS Helsinki University Hospital. The site visits provided an opportunity to learn about the most advanced treatment facilities and technologies. According to many participants, the most interesting element of the festival was the exhibition hall filled with innovations that provided a sneak peek into what healthcare might look like in the future.

OuluHealth at the heart of digital transformation

The Radical Health Festival Helsinki was brought to life by a strong alliance of community and steering partners. This network included also the OuluHealth ecosystem that took part in creating the dynamic content of the event. The OuluHealth stand was located among other 40 international exhibitors. It hosted representatives from the University of Oulu, VTT, GeroNursing Centre, Oulu University Hospital and the Wellbeing Services County of North Ostrobothnia. All these stakeholders were actively involved in the programme, for example, by engaging in multiple discussions, joining panel discussions and giving presentations. Some of them established new contacts, some received proposals for partnerships and all of them enjoyed the unique atmosphere of the festival.

‘I decided to join the event because I thought it provides a space that we really need. In Finland, we have a lot of offerings for technology in general, but we are missing the right platform for healthcare. Compared to other events, this one is more tailored to health and medical informatics, which creates broader opportunities in the field of digital health and health innovations. I think the selection of speakers was good. However, I miss more interaction with the people that are here. For example, workshops could create deeper involvement. I like the informality and more creative approach of the organiser and I think this festival is a good step in that direction, said Dr. Guido Giunti, Director of the Centre for Health and Technology at the University of Oulu.

The festival provided some interesting perspectives on accelerating healthcare transformation with radical moves. Many found it thought-provoking, challenging traditional ways of acting and truly focused on collaboration. In addition to the educational and inspirational sessions, the Radical Health Festival Helsinki offered ample networking opportunities and enabled attendees to connect with like-minded individuals. Participation in the event strengthened OuluHealth’s position as a leading innovative ecosystem. It was a good experience to get new global insights and connect with other digital transformation partners.

The next Radical Health Festival Helsinki will take time on 22-23 May 2024.