28.10. 2016 Kuukauden kasvo

Searcher of hospital innovations

Eriikka Siirala will be frequently walking in the corridors of Turku University Hospital (Tyks), as she is studying the daily work of the hospital, looking for needs that might hold business potential. The YSI project will map the insights of the hospital staff and develop an operating model for creating new business from innovations originating in the hospital.

Co-ordinated by Turku Science Park Ltd, the YSI project (University Hospitals as Innovation Platforms) involves the Turku and Oulu University Hospitals. In Turku, the focus is on mapping innovations generated in the hospital and making them available to companies interested in the related fields. In Oulu, the focus lies in proactive co-development of innovations, within which different stakeholders (e.g. product and service developers of companies, patients and hospital staff) are involved in the development of new kinds of products, services and operating models.

According to Marja-Riitta Viljainen, who co-ordinates the project in Turku Science Park Ltd, models for hospital-originating innovations have been obtained from Denmark and Germany, but YSI is the first such project implemented in Finland. In Tyks, the working group for the YSI project is headed up by Chief Physician Päivi Rautava, and the project will continue till the end of 2017.

The YSI project is also linked to Health Campus Turku, a joint development project of the Hospital District of Southwest Finland, the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, Novia University of Applied Sciences, and Turku University Hospital. Development work is carried out, for example, in the fields of research and education.

Eriikka Siirala started as the innovation ambassador for the project at the beginning of September. She heads a group of five students that observes and interviews the hospital staff. The collected data is analysed and mapped, and used as a basis for ideas. The reports are sent to external evaluators and then to companies interested in them, if innovations viable for further development emerge.

A unique opportunity

”I was happy to join this project when I was asked. It’s a completely unique opportunity. I feel that hospitals have a need to create a permanent link for forwarding ideas. Practical work may well give ideas on developing, for example, work methods or an auxiliary tool, but usually there is no time or possibilities to forward them alongside your own work”, Ms Siirala says.

She has practical experience in hospital work, as she first qualified as a nurse in Helsinki and worked as anaesthesia nurse in surgical and anaesthetic wards before continuing her studies in the University of Turku in 2009. In Turku she graduated as a Master of Nursing Science and has worked as project researcher. She is also a postgraduate student at the Department of Nursing Science.

“My own research is also related to innovations, but not this project directly. Now I’m working full time at the project. It’s very inspiring, because we are looking for something new, and you can’t tell beforehand what we will find. There’s a chance to turn everyday innovations into new business that originates from practical needs. We act as a bridge between the hospital and the business world.”

Positive experiences

The working group will first map four wards in the Heart Centre with five days of interviews in each. The wards are outpatient, monitoring, operation and cardiology bed ward. Later they will continue in other wards which have not yet been decided on.

“We have only got started, but the reception has been really great. The Heart Centre has a very positive atmosphere. There is clearly a need for such activities, because the staff has also come to tell us their thoughts spontaneously. The students are highly motivated. They come from the Information Systems Science at the Turku School of Economics and the IT department of the University of Turku, and the project working group includes representatives from many different professions.”

During the autumn and the next year Eriikka Siirala will venture even deeper into the possibilities of hospital innovations and learn to know the wards and staff in Tyks.

River views and music

Eriikka Siirala is already familiar with Turku after living in the city for three years.

”I like it very much. It’s nice when you can go almost anywhere on foot, as the distances are so short. I live in the city-centre and the Aura riverbanks are my favourite area for walks”, Ms Siirala says.

In Turku, she can spend time at her favourite hobby, music. She played the violin until adulthood, but singing has taken its place.

“Music is nearly a way of life for me. I like almost all kinds of music and have found my way to concerts in Turku. I’ve been singing in different choirs since I was a child, and it’s a very dear hobby for me”, says Ms Siirala whose voice is low alto.

Text and photos: Anne Kortela

Read also: http://www.utu.fi/fi/Ajankohtaista/Uutiset/Sivut/YSI-hanke-luo-uutta-liiketoimintaa.aspx

Eriikka Siirala

Born in Helsinki and went to upper secondary school in Espoo, has lived in Turku since 2013
Innovation ambassador, YSI project (University Hospitals as Innovation Platforms) from 1 May 2016 – 31 September 2017.

(The YSI project is part of the 6Aika co-operation of the six largest cities in Finland (Turku, Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere and Oulu), which aims at creating future jobs and open sharing of data. The financing is provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Regional Council of Uusimaa as the financier organisation.)

2003 Nurse, Stadia University of Applied Sciences (currently Metropolia), Helsinki
2012 MNSc (Master of Nursing Science), University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science
2013– Doctoral candidate, University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science

2003–2013 Nurse, HUS (partly alongside studies)
2012–2016 Planner for basic studies and postgraduate studies and in a research project, University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science

Music, choir singing