personal and fast

A treasure in an ocean of data

Health data can tell a very personal story by revealing ordeals as well as healing processes.

At the same time, these data conceal an invaluable treasure. When experts analyse these data on a large scale, they are able to draw conclusions about rare diseases, assess risks, and address the health needs of a large population.

How is it possible to analyse large volumes of health data? This question is being explored by 27 experts at Medaffcon, a subsidiary of the PHOENIX group based in Finland. Medaffcon offers help to researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and health services by providing them with tools to make data-driven decisions possible so that they can provide more effective personalised treatment and care to individual patients.

Finland offers the ideal environment for analysing health data thanks to its progressive legislation and the high quality of available data. Not only is health- related information from millions of inhabitants stored in registries, but there are also hospital data lakes and biobanks that collect tissue samples and body fluids. This information is then evaluated by comparing it with data from the national registry. The first biobanks were established in Finland in 2014. Since that time, Medaffcon has conducted more than 20 studies based on this type of data. Further studies are in progress and involve participants from the private and public sectors.

We need this type of resource to ensure that we can provide more effective and sustainable healthcare that is tailored to the needs of the individual. Maija Wolf Medaffcon Expert

A key focus of Medaffcon is its work with real world evidence (RWE). This information, such as medical reports, is obtained from everyday health practices. The data gathered needs to be converted into a structured format so that it can be processed by computer systems. The question is how to evaluate this text electronically. Which data is important? Which key terms should text mining tools search for? Do they need to recognise laboratory values or data about weight, height, and lifestyle?

In one of the current projects, biostatistician Iiro Toppila is trying to determine how to improve the systems used by patients who monitor their own health, for example, by measuring their temperature, blood sugar or blood pressure. In the future, these systems are expected to be smart enough to detect a patient’s risk of complications when certain measured values change. This type of artificial intelligence is trained using the data from biobanks, clinics and, the Finnish central registry.

Maija Wolf, Head of Development, explains that this method of analysis can also be used to help identify people with rare diseases whose symptoms may change or indicate other illnesses. By analysing large volumes of data, key symptoms can be detected, arguing the case for a specific diagnosis. Maija Wolf believes data-driven decisions are one of the most important healthcare instruments of the future. “We need this type of resource to ensure that we can provide more effective and sustainable healthcare that is tailored to the needs of the individual.” This is how Medaffcon intends to continue helping customers in the future.

Find out more in our current annual report