Nordic health care and life science day, summary - 04 09 2012
HEALTH CARE & LIFE SCIENCE IN THE NORDIC REGION Private health care, medtech and welfare technologyDuring the spring and summer 2012 The Swedish Trade Council conducted a study on health care &life science.The purpose of this the study was to get an overview of similarities, differences, businessopportunities as well as challenges within private health care, medtech and welfare technology.These areas were chosen due to the challenges we are facing both globally and on the Nordicmarkets within health care & life science and the increased focus on efficiency within the publicsector.The Swedish Trade Council has used different sources in the information gathering process in orderto secure valid information. With a triangulated approach in mind, desk research, interviews withtrade associations and experts as well as interviews with Swedish companies located on the Nordicmarkets information has been conducted.In the following summary the main findings from the study are presented.Private health careThe prerequisites, demands and political decisions on how the health care system should beorganized have changed during the last years. The changes have resulted in an increased debate onprivate health care’s dominance and how it can be perceived as an alternative to the public healthcare system.As welfare states, Denmark, Finland and Norway, are interested in providing the best possible care totheir citizens. For example free choice of hospitals or health care guarantee has been or is about tobe implemented in the Nordic region as a solution for long waiting lines for treatment. This impliesthat patients are able to choose private clinics instead of public hospitals if they are not able to gettreatment in the given time period. These political initiatives create possibilities for the private healthcare clinics to either become a collaborator, perceived on the same level as the public hospital, or apossible alternative to the public health care system.
In line with increased interest from both employers and individuals to take out a healthcare insuranceguaranteeing faster treatment than the public health care system can provide, a business opportunityfor private clinics arises. It should be kept in mind that the political climate can be a decisive factor forwhat the future will bring within private health care and the prerequisites for establishment of privateclinics abroad can change over time.In order to limit possible challenges, such as changes in government’s attitude towards private healthcare, a well accomplished establishment is of outmost importance. By investigating each country’slaws, regulations and necessary steps for establishing a private clinic, the process can beconsiderably smoother. Due to the fact that the Nordic countries are following the EU laws andregulations it becomes easier to make business here although local standards must be observed.Specific elements that has been pinpointed in the study is the importance of authorized andregistered personnel, application procedures for approvals at local authorities, establishment of alocal company and to employ personnel according to the local employment rules.Interviews with Swedish companies established in the Nordic region have also emphasized that thecultural differences should not be underestimated in business situations.MedtechDue to the increased demand for a more modern and effective health care system the need andinterest for new innovative products and solutions has been raised. With large investments in thepublic hospital sector such as building and modernization of hospitals, the demands of offering anefficient and modern treatment has increased. In Norway several hospitals have been built and inDenmark an aggressive modernizing plan has been rolled out. The need and interest for newmedtech appliances that can support an increased demand for efficiency on both treatment and workroutines is thereby about to become concrete tender opportunities for medtech suppliers.Furthermore the Finnish health care system is about to implement new patient data systems andlarger purchase of implants is planned. Common to all Nordic countries is the interest fortelemedicine and e-health with backup from the local governments. Several concrete businessopportunities for innovative telemedicine solutions in the Nordic countries will be on the agenda in thefuture.When selling medtech products to the Nordic region most often the EU regulations is applicable,although specific local regulations should be investigated and followed. In Norway another dimensionsuch as customs and VAT rules should be taken into consideration before entering the market.For a successful sales procedure of medtech products in the Nordic countries, it is important toconsider how the sales process should be structured. The study illustrates that there are differenttender levels in the Nordic countries and that collaboration partners as for example a distributor,agent or sales representative is very important in some situations. Below the threshold value, directsale is a possible alternative.
Despite being neighboring countries to Sweden, Swedish companies interviewed in the study admitthat cultural differences have a true effect on the outcome of the business. Sales channels andpartner strategy should also be carefully considered. In Finland for example a Finnish speakingpartner is recommended since it can be difficult to manage the internationalization in Swedish.Furthermore the advantage of teaming up with a professional partner in the establishment process inorder to minimize bureaucratic barriers has also been pointed out in the study.Welfare technologyWith an ageing population and decreasing workforce, the demands for efficient work procedures andpossibility for elderly people to grow old in their own house, the demand for welfare technologysolutions is a fact. The political agenda in Denmark, Finland and Norway is focusing even more nowon welfare technology solutions than before. It implies that the governmental support in terms offinancial funds and economical contribution can be allocated to private companies offering welfaretechnology products.The maturity for implementing and supporting welfare technology differ between the Nordic countries.Denmark has been in the forefront for these kinds of solutions for some years and has now changedtheir strategy from focusing on small developing products to larger well tested appliances. TheFinnish government is focusing on increasing and improving the elderly care service, developing userdriven technology products as well as focus on welfare technology products in general. TheNorwegian government has recently developed a strategy for how and what to focus on withinwelfare technology. They will especially focus on smart housing, ICT and solutions that can contributeto a better everyday life situation for elderly people. Even though the Nordic market has differentexperiences within the area of welfare technology the business opportunities will steadily increase asthe demand from the government of having an efficient public elderly care system, as well as interestfrom the elderly people to stay longer in their home with help from assistive technology.Due to the relatively new focus on welfare technology, pilot projects can be a possible way of enteringa market. Other sales channels can be through a local partner, participation in tenders or direct sales.It should though be considered that due to some immatureness on the Nordic market and resistancetowards technological products and solutions related to the human factor a change in both employeesand user’s mindset is necessary. Product information, branding and marketing campaigns as well asgood references is thereby important to implement in the sales process.Experience from Swedish companies established on the Danish market within welfare technology hasstressed that the internationalization strategy should be considered carefully. Acquisition, partnershipor direct sales have different pros and cons that can affect the sales volumes as well as brand valueon the market. By entering a neighboring market, experiences has been gained which is valuablebefore entering other foreign markets. As well as bringing back the knowledge to Sweden for strongerofferings.
Recommendations Be prepared before internationalize on the Nordic markets o Get informed about what to think about when establish a clinic or selling medtech and welfare technology products in the Nordic region o Be aware of the cultural differences o Set a strategy for how to enter the market Business opportunities Example of business opportunities within private health care & life science in the Nordic countries