Steering of information management

In Finland, the implementation of national ICT services aims to offer up-to-date information for social and health services. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) provides steering and support to both social and health care service providers, system manufacturers and system suppliers regarding the management of patient and client data. 

Goal of national steering is to ensure timely access to high quality client and patient data safely, securely and in a way which supports fluent work by health and social service professionals and secondary use. 

This requires application of interoperability standards and best practices in information management and their application in a coordinated way across different types of public and private health and social services.  To ensure sufficient level of interoperability and security, national legislation sets duties for health service providers and system manufacturers. Legislation also provides mandates for national authorities for steering, development, operation and supervision in information management.

The role of THL in steering

European interoperability framework is used to illustrate and structure levels of interoperability. For example reEIF framework considers legal and regulatory, policy, care process, information, applications and IT infrastructure interoperability.

THL has specified duties in steering on several levels

  • On legal and regulatory level, THL participates in preparation of national and European regulations, and publishes legal rules related to social and health care information management.
  • On policy level, THL is active in many national and international groups and development programmes and collaborates with other stakeholders in providing reference architectures for information management.
  • To support care and service provision processes, THL provides guidelines for professionals on data entry and utilization of code systems, for example.
  • Many steering tasks of THL focus on information: THL releases and maintains numerous information models, code systems and terminologies that are widely applied in social and health services.
  • To support applications in health and social services, THL facilitates and publishes specifications linked to regulations for systems and products used by service providers and citizens.
  • THL also steers the development of the national IT infrastructure (Kanta services). International standards and national specifications and implementation guides are used on several levels.

National cooperation in steering

National steering in health information management involves several national agencies.

  • The ministries of finance and of social affairs and health are responsible for strategic steering, legislation and national funding.
  • THL, in addition to being a research institute and a statistics and data authority, has several steering tasks, as described above.
  • The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) has tasks related to the development and maintenance of Kanta services, the national health and social services IT infrastructure.
  • The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) oversees and supervises health service providers and system manufacturers.

Other central national agencies in health and social services information management include Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea), Digital and population data services agency (DVV) and Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).