29.1. 2014 Kuukauden kasvo

T-Hospital is the culmination of Heikki Korvenranta’s career

Paediatrician Heikki Korvenranta’s career culminated in an 8-year hospital project that integrated the views of hundreds of people on smoother flow of hospital work. Now the project leader has retired on well deserved pension.

With a floor area of 10 hectares, the corridors of the hospital are spacious, although there are nearly 2,000 people working in the new building of the Hospital District of Southwest Finland and ambulances bring in new patients quite frequently. The width and curved shape of the staircases, daylight that passes through the whole building and carefully planned wooden details and works of art create a relaxed atmosphere.

The passages for people, ambulances and goods as well as the lifts have been placed separately and dimensioned to avoid congestion. There are facilities for storing the equipment in conjunction with the treatment rooms, and the staff need not waste their time on unpacking supplies shipments.

“I have to say that I’m happy with this. We were able to come to an agreement, although hundreds of people contributed to the planning during a period of eight years. There were 40–50 working groups, and some issues required as many as 20 meetings. Nevertheless it was safer to make a decision which satisfied all the experts”, says Heikki Korvenranta, project leader of the functional planning of the T-Hospital building.

Well deserved pension

The last services from the old A and U buildings were transferred to the T-Hospital on 2 April, and Dr Korvenranta is now on well deserved pension. He no longer misses projects like that and has spoken about it at so many seminars that he doesn’t miss them, either.

”Heading up one such a large project during one’s career is enough. I couldn’t have done it without practical experience in hospital work, because the project set out to improve the flow of work and rearrange the working methods in the hospital. I have experience in clinical work at the clinic of paediatrics since 1973 and as the head of profit centre from 1998–2004. Help with project management was provided by an external consultant”, Dr Korvenranta says.

The participation of the hospital staff in the planning was crucial, as the goal was to create a hospital in which working runs smoothly and the treatment is patient-oriented and holistic. The old thinking was turned upside down, because in the old premises everyone had to work on terms of the wards.

”The T-Hospital focuses on demanding care and emergency duty. The patients are treated in care lines: cardiac diseases, neurological diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, abdominal diseases, cancer treatment, and medicinal treatment. The premises and services have been planned with a view to the need of care of the baby boom generation especially in 2015–2025 when the need will reach its peak. We wanted to enhance the flow of patients, which means that unnecessary moving is avoided and laboratory and imaging services are always near the patient. Today, a patient can often be treated in the emergency duty and thus need not be transferred to the ward at all.”

Simple is beautiful – also in a hospital

The implemented structural change is visible in the premises: in the old U-Hospital inpatient wards account for 70 per cent, while in the T-Hospital their share is less than one third. The treatment is based on process thinking and Lean principles, which means simplifying and reducing. The hospital only focuses on what is useful and applies standardised methods whenever possible. It is also important to pay attention to flow efficiency which is the basis of cost-efficiency.

The redistribution of premises on the basis of the needs of services also required corresponding changes in the personnel structure, and planning of an organisation reform was begun soon after the planning of the building. It naturally involves a long-term training need of the staff, and that has been invested in.

Another goal was to improve the patients’ experience and interaction with the patients’ families, and new information technology could be used much more than is currently done.

“The new hospital with new operating models allows for efficient information system support which could not have worked in the old unit-centred hierarchy. In the project we mapped out the users’ need for the utilisation of information and the subsequent demands to the information systems. The development continues, and one goal is to refine the information further for better utilisation by different occupational groups as well as patients and their family members. At present, the patient records comprise largely of specialists’ notes, and it is difficult for other occupational groups let alone patients to decipher them. Improved comprehensibility would make it easier to carry out the treatment especially for people with multiple diseases, and would promote the interaction between the patients and health care professionals. There is still room for improvement”, Dr Korvenranta says.

IKITIK continues on pension

Dr Korvenranta will continue to promote the usability of health information in the IKITIK consortium which aims at refining health information by improving the production and comprehension of text. The tools used include proofing tools, translation software and speech recognition. Dr Korvenranta says that there is great potential in health information, as long as the usability can be improved and the patients understand it and can improve their health reading skills.

IKITIK only takes up 2–3 days a month, so the pensioner has time for other activities, too. Most of all he likes to follow the growing of his grandchildren, 6-month-old twin girls and their two years older sister, and give them a helping hand every now and then in Espoo. Other leisure activities include forest work in his home district in Ulvila and growing of roses in his garden in Turku where a number of species bloom.

Text and photos: ANNE KORTELA

Heikki Korvenranta

- Born in Ulvila, lives in Turku

- Family: wife and two grown-up children, three grandchildren

- M.D., Paediatrician, University of Turku 1983


Working career:

1973–1997 TYKS, Clinic of Paediatrics, assistant physician and specialist, clinical teacher at the University

1998–2004 TYKS, head of conservative profit centre

2005–2013 TYKS, project leader of functional planning of the T-Hospital

1992– University of Turku, Docent of Paediatrics

2008– Member of the Executive Board of the IKITIK consortium. The consortium develops information and language technology to support health information and communication e.g. in the projects of Tekes and the Academy of Finland

2013– Enodate Oy, Consultant, hospital planning and health care information systems