OuluHealth Labs open hospital doors to developers
OuluHealth Labs provide realistic innovation premises for proofing new solutions for healthcare. The labs are a joint initiative by City of Oulu, Finland, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Oulu University Hospital.
OuluHealth Labs consist of three testbed facilities:
OYS Testlab is specialized for testing hospital health care products. The lab premises can for example replicate a full operation theatre in order to test new products aimed at operation room.
Oulu CityLab origins from Kaakkuri Healthtech Product Testing Center created in 2008. The CityLab provides access to real environments and users in public healthcare, maternity clinics, specialty care and social care.
OAMK Simlab includes simulated environments with related equipment for bio analytics, nursing and emergency nursing, optometry, oral health care, radiography and radiation therapy. New devices and software can be tested in usability lab and real healthcare situations can be demonstrated.
Developers get access to hospitals
Typically there is no developer access to hospitals. With OuluHealth Labs the innovators and developers can use the services of OuluHealth Labs to find out the needs of public healthcare in order to create new and improved solutions for it. Developers can participate informal matchmaking sessions with healthcare professionals.
Meetings between medical and care professionals and developers help understand each other’s viewpoint, fuel ideas and create common innovation culture. The aim is to bring together large and small companies, individual developers, researchers and healthcare professionals.
Early idea evaluation by real healthcare professionals
The services of OuluHealth Labs include workshops to evaluate ideas. Developers can test if the new idea is suitable for healthcare and does it bring the necessary benefits. For an innovator it is crucial to understand how the care process happens in practice with and without the new device. Testbeds have domain expertise that startups and corporations typically lack.
Simulation is a safe and speedy start for prototype testing
When a new prototype is taking shape it cannot be tested directly with patients. For prototype stage ideas OuluHealth Labs has created simulation environment. For example one of the simulators includes all human functions put together with the help of a computer and sensors. Simulation is a quick and easy way to start new product testing process early because it does not involve real people and ethical permission is therefore not required.
How did you validate your idea ?
Investors typically require rock-solid validation before they invest in new healthcare solutions. Ouluhealth Labs aim to help to get access to validate the new solution in the medical field. It wants to be an organized practice and an access point to clinical trials in hospital or peoples homes. In later product development phases it also supports taking care of the needed regulatory and ethical requirements of a new healthcare product.
Public healthcare needs stimulation for innovation
Labs like OuluHealth Labs are actively stimulating innovations in the public sector. These labs aim to become catalyst for digital healthcare solutions and places where developers work together with their healthcare client. This kind of safe experimentation platform to resemble real life conditions is a must for healthcare innovators.
Testing new solutions within healthcare organisations is still an exceptional activity in the healthcare innovation context. I believe it will soon become a new norm and a repeatable everyday process.
I am so proud to have been in the team building the first working service model of the Oulu CityLab concept back in 2008 and happy to see the concept finally take off.
Lesson learned? Healthcare innovation is a marathon, not a sprint.