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Presenting Kuopio Health members: Gesund Partners is solving well-being challenges

Presenting Kuopio Health members: Gesund Partners is solving well-being challenges
Ecosystem News

Gesund Partners is a strategy consultancy set out to solve well-being challenges. The company’s team includes experts in business and service design, social and health care and societal influence. Gesund Partners is a company specialised in co-design, strategic work and digital innovations. The company was established in 2019 as a result of joint reflections by Ville Koiste and Paavo Perttula. They noticed that there was a demand for a new kind of consulting agency in the industry that would base its development work on a given societal challenge instead of a specific method or solution.

Solving the structural challenges of society

Gesund Partners offers strategy consulting and business design services and is largely focused on solving structural questions in society. These may include providing operators with incentives to increase well-being and prevent illness. A typical project is related to understanding a new phenomenon, such as impact investing, in the client’s context, identifying shared value in an ecosystem or strategic work probing the future. The company’s experts also have strong expertise in establishing startups, accelerator programmes and developing influential joint projects. 

“We wish to seek solutions and recommendations creatively. All our activities are strongly guided by our mission to contribute to building a more sustainable and humane society. This mission is strongly integrated into all our activities”, says Koiste, the company’s Founder and Chief Value Officer. 

“At Gesund Partners, we select the optimal methods and partners for solving a given challenge based on identifying and prioritising the challenge. We call this methodological frame the Gesund Way. The systemic understanding of the challenge at hand, development of human-based solutions and agile scaling are the three focus areas of the different Gesund Way methods”, Koiste adds.

Aiming at sustainable renewal in society

Currently, many companies are constantly thinking about value creation from new perspectives. The idea of shared value creation and a partnership that brings together different operators are understood as a means to achieve better solutions in joint population health programmes, for example. Marginalisation and mental health issues among children and young people have also emerged and it is important that we find solutions for these challenges.

Gesund Partners also wishes to be involved in helping the launching of the new wellbeing services county operations. Another extensive process of change is related to the field of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), where questions related to funding and viability must be re-evaluated as the organisations will no longer be receiving funding from Veikkaus. The company wishes to contribute to promoting more effective utilisation of the available resources in these challenges.

“Our clients represent the public, private and third sectors. Most of our projects are related to cooperation, a multi-operator context, including both the development of cooperation that occurs within an organisation and between different operators. We also implement various surveys and reports, especially in the public sector”, says Tatu Laurila, Strategy Director, Partner.

“The more projects we carry out with different clients, whether wellbeing services countries, companies or NGOs, the better we will be able to help our clients as we grow our understanding and competence. As a result, we will be able to better understand the needs and starting points of various societal agents and will be capable of solving problems very extensively”, Laurila continues.

“We find it important to understand the systemic perspective that underlies various societal challenges. Because of this, we also aim at low-threshold participatory methods to make the voices of regular citizens heard. All this also allows us to continue learning and polish up our ideas”, Koiste adds.

In the photo: Gesund Partners’ Chief Value Officer, Ville Koiste, and Strategy Director, Partner, Tatu Laurila.

Health and well-being as an investment

Major health issues at the population level have forced us to seek new ways to prevent diseases. Impact investing enables solving societal problems with private equity. From a broader perspective, impact investing is a partial solution that allows providing resources to the management of care and health needs of the population in an innovative way and put Finland’s public finances on a sustainable track. In impact investing, the profits made by investors are based on the impacts produced for society, such as a decline in cardiac disease or obesity achieved with a project. The biggest challenges in Finland concern various public health issues, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and memory disorders. What they all have in common are structural challenges; incentives that guide people in the wrong direction, such as treating diseases instead of preventing them. An idea began brewing at Gesund Partners that a collaboration model funded through impact investing could provide one structural solution. An example of this is the Sydänohjelma Polku (“The Path Heart Health Programme”) which aims to improve the cardiac health of Finns through the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the provision of information and support for patients to ensure optimal self-care.

“In practice, we transform the produced health or well-being impact into an investment. Impact investing is a model that aims at measurable health or wellbeing impacts and effectiveness. Investors looking to achieve a societal change fund preventive activities, for instance. The aim is to grow the so-called well-being pie. After all, the public sector has limited resources and the need for services has increased due to factors such as population ageing. Including private equity in the funding model for health and social services also aims at increasing sustainability. Compared to traditional responsible investments, impact investing aims to generate a positive change in society in addition to preventing negative effects. So far, impact investing is a new market in Finland, but it has been growing in popularity as an investment method around the world. Finland has the potential to become a global pioneer in the utilisation of responsible equity that aims to promote renewal in society”, Koiste explains the definition of impact investing.

“As the European Investment Fund is involved in Finnish social impact bonds, the mechanisms of impact investing, responsible international players are also interested in setting up their operations in Finland. We also have our own institutional investors in Finland, and they could also include this investment type into their portfolio”, Laurila continues.

Project cooperation for the management of the growing disease burden

Gesund Partners is involved in a project put together by Kuopio Health and partly funded by Sitra that aims to plan an ecosystem structure for the prevention of memory disorders that complies with the principles of a fair data economy and is based on impacts. The company’s task is to model the roles, responsibilities, governance model and goals set for benefits gained so that impact investing can be utilised in financing early and preventive measures.

“Already back in my previous job, I’ve created a profound collaborative relationship with the North Savo region and especially the University of Eastern Finland, building an understanding of the special strengths in the area for solving health and well-being questions. Research related to memory disorders and competence in the areas of memory health is absolutely world-class in the region, whether in neurology or the impact research methods that have been utilised in the region. We used these identified strengths as a starting point for a discussion that resulted in a development project for a data-driven operating model for memory health” Laurila explains.

The project is carried out in a collaboration between multiple operators. The project partners include Gesund Partners, Kuopio Health and Sitra as well as the University of Eastern Finland, a pioneer in memory disorder and impact research. Esior Oy and Wellpro Impact Solutions Oy are also involved in the project. The Wellbeing Services Country of North Savo also participates in the development work and has tentatively also shown interest in piloting the new model.

Becoming a Kuopio Health member through the project

“As the project has strong roots in North Savo and the members of the consortium include strong operators from the region, we felt it was time to join Kuopio Health. We’ve already noticed how versatile and interesting the network activities are and how many innovative operators are involved in the cooperative. We have excellent conditions for engaging in significant work within the ecosystem but may also produce impacts at the national and international levels”, Laurila continues.

“The platform that Kuopio Health offers its members serves the joint project in a very tangible way. We also get to know new, interesting future partners with which we can continue the discussion on what else we will be able to achieve in the future.  The North Savo region has major potential in innovation, development and a culture of cooperation and enables new initiatives emerging from the collaboration. In the future, we’ll be able to join our resources and make the world a better place in a realistic way, without having our heads in the clouds, as we tend to say”, Koiste concludes. 

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