In 2020, HUS stepped up to the front line in health care in general and in combating the coronavirus pandemic in particular. We found ourselves in a role of critical importance to society at large, and I feel that we have acquitted ourselves well.

The coronavirus pandemic took a heavy toll on us, and the year under review was arduous because of the constant uncertainty. All Finns have been stressed by the pandemic, but for us it made our work particularly stressful. Our employees were obliged to go above and beyond the call of duty, and we invested robustly in providing support equally to all our employees to help them cope.

In this, we were successful. The results of the annual workplace barometer show that personnel satisfaction remained steady despite the difficult circumstances. I would like to give huge thanks to everyone at HUS for this.

Our treatment results for coronavirus have been excellent by international standards, particularly in intensive care, and the mortality rate remained low. However, at the same time we accumulated a massive care deficit, which we began to address in the autumn before the second wave of the pandemic hit. We will continue to reduce the care deficit in 2021.

Digital change progressed faster than expected

The year 2020 was the first year under our strategy, and we set out to pursue the values and goals set forth in the strategy. Although the coronavirus pandemic that began early in the year had an impact on the entire year, we never halted our other operations because of it.

One of our strategic goals is customer-oriented digital change. The pandemic actually contributed to attaining this goal, because the number of patients seen via remote appointments increased. The pandemic also taught us about the need for real-time reporting, which was crucial for us to be able to coordinate coronavirus countermeasures across the whole of Uusimaa. Also because of the pandemic, the entire HUS administration switched to working from home in March 2020. This is a good example of the progress of digitalization.

The Apotti patient and customer information system was adopted across all of HUS during 2020. When the coronavirus pandemic began, about half of HUS was using Apotti, and the last major deployment was scheduled for May. Because of the pandemic, that deployment was postponed to the autumn. Apotti represents an enormous change in our operations, and it requires further development and effort on our part to make it work. The deployment went as planned, and although there were certain challenges, there were much fewer of them than in earlier deployments.

Improved regulatory compliance of procurements

We began the process to make our procurements compliant with the law in 2019, and competitive tenders proceeded well in 2020. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic we were forced to make numerous direct procurements. In the spring, for instance, we focused on acquiring personal protective equipment for personnel caring for coronavirus patients. In the autumn, we made a huge investment in coronavirus testing at the request of the Government, as a result of which we were able to resolve the testing backlog that had accumulated over the summer. Since then, testing has run smoothly.

We have some way to go to achieve full regulatory compliance in our procurements, but I believe that all procurements will be above board within about one year.

Active lobbying in the social welfare and health care reform

Preparation of the great social welfare and health care reform progressed during 2020. We lobbied actively for keeping the specialist medical care structure in the region intact so as to be able to respond to the challenges of population growth, population ageing and medical advancements. The proposed funding models pose a significant threat to social welfare and health care services in Uusimaa, as the plans so far presented would cause a substantial reduction in funding for the region.

We improve our operations despite uncertainty

Uncertainty factors carried over into 2021, because the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing. We do not know whether this uncertainty will continue through the spring or through the entire year. However, we must in any case be able to care for both coronavirus patients and all other patients while maintaining the functional capacity of our personnel. With the availability of coronavirus vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

But coronavirus notwithstanding, we must continue to improve our operations according to our strategy. In 2021, we are focusing on three strategic project packages concerning digitalization, geriatrics and research. We expect significant results from these.

Juha Tuominen