A significant proportion of Finns suffer from chronic diseases. There are up to 400,000 people suffering from type 2 diabetes alone, and it is estimated that about 10–15% of the public healthcare budget is spent on the treatment of diabetes. Many chronic diseases can be influenced by lifestyle changes, but support for the changes is poorly available: less than half of the patients suffering from chronic diseases feel adequately supported and only about 5% of them are able to make a substantial lifestyle change.
– Our goal is to make a radical leap in the effectiveness of treatment by providing better treatment for patients with chronic diseases. The preliminary results are promising: the median weight loss of the pilot in progress in Harjun terveys after four months is 5.2 kg (5.1%). Our treatment model has brought about a clear change, says Nelli Såger, Director of BeeHealthy's Chronic Care.
– Extensive international research shows that with adequate weight loss and sustainable lifestyle changes, type 2 diabetes can be put into remission, in other words, the diabetic becomes asymptomatic and drug-free, says Såger.
In BeeHealthy's new treatment model, both the professional and the patient play an active role. Through the app, the results of measurements taken at home are sent to a professional, who can intervene in the situation if, for example, the weight, blood sugar or blood pressure is high.
– The main objective is to support healthier lifestyles, i.e. to encourage people to exercise more and eat healthier, thereby reducing the need for medical treatment and improving the prognosis for diabetes. This is promoted by remote monitoring and support as well as personalised routine challenges which aim at building a sustainable lifestyle change,” says Såger.
The current situation is expensive both in human and social terms – and also for employers
In addition to society and the human aspect, the current situation regarding the treatment of chronic diseases is also costly for employers, as people with diabetes have up to 10 more days of sickness-related absences than others. This means an additional annual cost of EUR 3,500 per person suffering from diabetes for the employer.
– There is much to improve in the effectiveness of chronic disease treatment: the patient is left quite alone, the desired lifestyle changes rarely happen and poor treatment balance often leads to costly complications. Our new operating model can achieve significant savings and improve the continuity of treatment in everyday life through digital services, says Sampo Oksanen, Commercial Lead of Chronic Care.
The early treatment results are promising, but more information on the long-term effectiveness on lifestyles, let alone complications, is required.
– The effectiveness of our concept will be weighed only in a longer follow-up, with a larger number of patients. That is why we are adding hundreds of new patients to our pilot in the new Päijät-Häme wellbeing services county this year. The University of Helsinki and Aalto University are conducting a scientific study on the benefits of the pilot. The pilot and the development of the new treatment model will continue, says Iiro Karhiaho, Chief Physician of BeeHealthy's Chronic Care.
In the joint venture between Mehiläinen and Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Wellbeing, Harjun terveys, the pilot for the treatment of people with type 2 diabetes started in December 2021 and more than 30 patients have participated in it. In the future, the new treatment model will work through BeeHealthy's SuomiSote remote service platform. The operating model developed for the treatment of chronic diseases will later also be offered to employers.