As part of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award’s ambition to capture the story, challenges, opportunities and realities of working within the elderly people and dementia care sector, we have been honoured to draw upon the experiences of experts within our network throughout six countries.

In this post, we interviewed Katja Bäckström, Elisa’s Director CX Digitalisation Solution. Elisa’s almost 140 years of operations has positioned the organisation as a Finnish leader in telecommunications and digital services. With a strong focus on sustainable development and our ever entwined digital and physical worlds, Elisa’s mission is to harness digital opportunities to solve many sustainable development challenges, as well as help individual’s achieve their dreams and aspirations.

(All images from Elisa)


Hej Katja! Could you please tell us about Elisa, and what you do there?

Over a hundred years ago, Elisa started to change the world. First, we helped a manufacturer talk effortlessly from their office to a courtyard building. Today, we help millions of people with their daily communications, work, affairs and entertainment with security and care in mind. At the same time, we are laying our society’s digital foundations with sustainable business operations. With digitalisation, we solve matters that are important to people and sustainable development.

Elisa is well known as a teleoperator, but the company is much more than just that. When I started working at Elisa some five years ago, I felt particularly drawn to how passionate Elisa’s approach to learning and development is. Already back then, healthcare and the ageing population had been identified as the mega trend that would shake our society, which the Elisa management set as a challenge for new employees. We took part in strategy work and thought of different solutions, with which we at Elisa could match the future societal needs.

Digitalisation is like a tornado: it forces us to change and, in its aftermath, we need to find new ways to do familiar things. Digitalisation puts pressure on us to change our working habits in the future and on how the changes affect the customer experience.

“… healthcare and the ageing population had been identified as the mega trend that would shake our society, which the Elisa management set as a challenge for new employees.”

With technology developing faster than ever before, we want to stand out as a responsible partner in our customers’ eyes. Responsibility is a genuine desire to understand the organisation’s goals and processes as well as any related bottlenecks. By combining this knowledge with, for example, end-customer/user understanding gained from service design, it is possible to create solutions that truly help solve our everyday challenges. When design focuses on users instead of technology, my experience is that it might speed up the implementation of new operation models by up to 70%.

What has been Elisa’s mission moving especially into healthcare?

Elisa’s new mission, A sustainable future through digitalisation, is a good depiction of what we want to gain with digitalisation solutions. We have worked hard to not let technology and definitions lead our operations, but to instead focus on the end customers from start to finish.

Do you have an example of an Elisa solution that has been used widely throughout care environments with end users as the focus?

During the planning stage of the new Helsinki children’s hospital, our task was to find out how to make the nursing of small patients and communication between the children and their families even smoother than before. Instead of technical specifications, we involved the young patients and their families in the designing stage. Interviews helped us understand our most important tasks:

  • to promote the sense of security in the hospital environment through entertainment
  • to ensure the continuation of everyday life, in other words, help them attend school remotely and keep in touch with friends and family

The end result was a multi-service system, wrapped in a protective case suitable for small hands.

The multi-service system was found useful, and it was introduced at the Women’s Hospital where the maternity ward has a high hygiene standard and the nursing staff is under pressure to meet the new mothers’ requirements for instructions and guidance for their first moments with the baby. With fast iteration with the end users and ward nurses, we ended up expanding the service with videos and care instructions, nurse call, and video connection to the office.

We have worked hard to not let technology and definitions lead our operations, but to instead focus on the end customers from start to finish.

Word of the multi-service system spread, and it was also introduced at Espoo Hospital, where they had recognised their elderly patients’ need for rehabilitation instructions, activation, and a secure video connection with a therapist. We simplified the user interface to match the requirements of the new user group, and, together with a start-up company and physiotherapists, we designed a suspension arm that could be attached to a bed.

How has COVID19 pushed Elisa to change and adapt?

COVID-19 separated seniors from their families and created a need to keep in touch in a new way.

Even though the multi-service system was originally designed to be used in hospitals, in two weeks it was adapted for nursing homes, so that the elderly could contact their loved ones, home care could be scaled, and calling for help would be easier.

Simultaneously, its use in hospitals continues today. Thanks to the secured connection, doctors and patients can speak with each other with their devices safely from behind a glass.

What is the future of digital healthcare and where does Elisa see new opportunities to help care systems and care professionals?

The healthcare industry will change significantly and, with COVID-19, this year has truly sped up its digital transformation. The sick are asked to stay at home instead of going to a hospital. The significance of remote and home care will increase. Operations must be adapted accordingly: in addition to one-on-one encounters, the first contact needs to be handled efficiently through self-service channels, person-assisted diagnoses will be referred to centralised service organisations, and through these steps, the right care can be provided for those who need it. Safely.