HUS is the Finland’s leading medical and healthcare organization, being responsible for more than one third of all specialist medical care in Finland. We stood in the front line in the battle against the coronavirus for the whole of last year.

I have been on the HUS Executive Board for 16 years at the time of this writing, and I have never seen such dedication to a difficult task. HUS experts created a policy for the prevention and treatment of the pandemic. This supported political decisions and municipal decision-makers while sending a clear message to the population at large.

Good patient care, scientific research and teaching are the core duties of HUS. Between 2010 and 2019, the Executive Board led an improvement drive to make HUS serve the interests of patients and taxpayers better. Treatment queues were reduced, the number of patients treated increased and the quality of care improved in all medical specialties. HUS became an undeniably top-quality hospital by international comparison. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which changed much but never interrupted our other activities. One example of our successes is the deployment of the Apotti patient information system in November 2020.

HUS is in a class of its own in Finland in the economy of its provision of specialist medical care. Member municipalities’ contributions to HUS, deflated, per capita, did not grow between 2010 and 2018. Elsewhere in Finland, the costs of specialist medical care increased by about 30%. Many local authorities in Uusimaa have assigned some of their functions to HUS.

However, all of the above does not eliminate the fact that HUS faces persistent difficulties in various areas. Management is the removal of problems and errors through corrective action and continuous improvement. Last year, continuous improvement was required in procurements.

HUS is a large organization that has 27,000 employees and spends about EUR 1 billion per year on procurements of everything from construction investments, IT systems, equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to various bulk-bought supplies. Our procurement process is probably the best in Finland for certain product groups such as pharmaceuticals. Many local authorities have outsourced their procurements to HUS.

There is always something to improve in a large organization. The procurement function has undergone major changes, and its organization, instructions and monitoring have been taken up as a special development project because of the shortcomings observed in procurements. A study showed that about 4% of procurements were problematic. The Executive Board has focused a concentrated effort on monitoring the corrective action taken and the progress made.

HUS was established in 1999 by amalgamating various hospitals and their support services. Initially, HUS had a very heterogeneous administrative and operating culture. Moving towards uniform management and operations has been the ‘scarlet thread’ in organizational development at HUS for two decades. Increasing centralized management in the organization, improving clinical functions and serving municipalities and regions and all of Finland have always been goals of the Executive Board and of the management and remain so. All this has been the focus of determined efforts whose fruits can now be seen.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, HUS was able towards the end of 2020 to eliminate half of the care deficit accrued in the spring. Even experts cannot provide miracles, but I believe that we will be able to care for our patients as planned.

Ulla-Marja Urho
Chair of the Executive Board