Pohjola Pankki Oyj : Professor Martti Kekomäki Receives Pohjola and Suomi
Mutual Medical Award
Professor Kekomäki would concentrate surgery to hospitals that already perform
many of them
If surgical operations were concentrated in larger units, we could perform
more of them with better efficiency and safety, although there are some
exceptions.This is the view held by Professor Martti Kekomäki, who will
receive the Pohjola and Suomi Mutual Medical Awardfor his long-term and
successful work in health care management and promoter of health economics
principles.The committee that chose the winner consisted of chairmen of the
boards of the Finnish Medical Association, Finnish Medical Society Duodecim,
Finska Läkaresällskapet and the Finnish Medical Foundation.
Professor Kekomäki is an internationally renowned trainer and expert in the
fields of health economics, methods and management. He has been Administrative
Chief Physician at the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and
Professor of health and nursing administration at the University of Helsinki.
He is a surgical and paediatric surgical specialist by training. He has been
training health care professionals as managers for a quarter of a century. He
also worked for a long time as a clinical consultant for the health care
methods assessment unit of the Finnish Office for Health Technology Assessment
and is still active in both Finnish and international duties.
- "It is quite a different matter whether you perform 5 or 50 operations of a
certain type in a hospital per year," he says to explain the power of
concentrated surgeries. Surgeons who perform the same operation many times get
better as they get more experienced. The fewer operations you perform, the
greater the risks and the more likely errors will take place. Practice makes
perfect in this field, too.
Finnish hospitals where such a model has been developed systematically have
achieved very high productivity levels. He takes a relatively small HUS
hospital in Porvoo as an example where it is now standard procedure to make
anaesthesia preparations outside the operating theatre, and to discharge
patients as soon as possible. Once patients have been discharged, they became
active in their own rehabilitation and more motivated to make a quick
recovery. It is Kekomäki's experience that if patients, especially older
patients, stay in bed, they lose muscle mass at a rate of several per cent per
day, which may even jeopardise what was achieved with the operation.
His view is that comparative analyses of health care should be carried out,
because there are good a bad practices even within countries. When reforming
health care, it is also useful to see what other Western countries have done,
whether it concerns management, IT solutions or choice of treatment methods.
Financing is obviously closely related to the concentration of medical
procedures. Kekomäki is in favour of public health care funding and a
single-channel funding model that would cover practically all costs arising
from illnesses and their treatment. This would not rule out people's option of
buying health services from the private sector if they so choose. When
building the system, the number of administrative layers should be as low as
possible, and the principle of regional equality should not be compromised.
- "I am a totally apolitical person and I see the market economy operating
well in a number of issues. But it does not at all suited to health care,
because it is difficult to define both the product and the customer in
publicly funded health care. Health care funds must not be controlled by the
markets. Disputes over service agreements are already burdening our judicial
Treatment must be provided on the basis of patients' clinical needs - not by
their income, place of residence, or education. Even in the USA, equal
treatment of citizens is one of the yardsticks for measuring health care
quality. Professor Kekomäki is concerned about a polarisation of our society,
differences in various population groups' state of health and the exodus of
GPs from health centres, which fortunately has slowed down somewhat in recent
- "We should not separate people like sheep and goats. Health care is the only
area where we are responsible for our less fortunate brothers. Older people,
too, should feel that they are full members of society. Health care brings
together the entire spectrum of human life, from cradle to grave, from having
money or not, from hope to despair.Maintaining hope is central to the healing
process, as mere technology and treatment cannot solve everything," says
All of us also have a responsibility to look after ourselves, too. People must
be encouraged to make healthy choices every day in a positive way.
Management leads to better quality
All management is essentially change management, but Kekomäki emphasises that
health care management is different from running a large company. Health care
management is above all improvement of all care quality on a daily basis.
Awarded annually since 1981 at the Finnish Medical Convention, the Pohjola and
Suomi Mutual Medical Award is recognition of a person's considerable life's
work both domestically and internationally. Professor Martti Kekomäki will
hold a speech titled "On the Brink of New Things" at the Finnish Medical
Convention on 10 January 2013 as he receives the award. The award will be
presented by Jouko Pölönen, Pohjola Insurance's President, and Jari Sokka,
President and CEO of Suomi Mutual.
For more information, please contact:
Professor Martti Kekomäki, tel. +358 (50) 358 1448, martti.kekomaki @fimnet.fi
Anne Lamminpää, Chief Physician at Pohjola Insurance, tel. +358 10253 2418,
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Source: Pohjola Pankki Oyj via Thomson Reuters ONE
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