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HEALTH CARE & LIFE SCIENCE IN THE NORDIC REGION

Private health care, medtech and welfare technology During the spring and summer 2012 The Swedish Trade Council conducted a study on health care & life science. The purpose of this the study was to get an overview of similarities, differences, business opportunities as well as challenges within private health care, medtech and welfare technology. These areas were chosen due to the challenges we are facing both globally and on the Nordic markets within health care & life science and the increased focus on efficiency within the public sector. The Swedish Trade Council has used different sources in the information gathering process in order to secure valid information. With a triangulated approach in mind, desk research, interviews with trade associations and experts as well as interviews with Swedish companies located on the Nordic markets information has been conducted. In the following summary the main findings from the study are presented. Private health care The prerequisites, demands and political decisions on how the health care system should be organized have changed during the last years. The changes have resulted in an increased debate on private health cares dominance and how it can be perceived as an alternative to the public health care system. As welfare states, Denmark, Finland and Norway, are interested in providing the best possible care to their citizens. For example free choice of hospitals or health care guarantee has been or is about to be implemented in the Nordic region as a solution for long waiting lines for treatment. This implies that patients are able to choose private clinics instead of public hospitals if they are not able to get treatment in the given time period. These political initiatives create possibilities for the private health care clinics to either become a collaborator, perceived on the same level as the public hospital, or a possible alternative to the public health care system.

In line with increased interest from both employers and individuals to take out a healthcare insurance guaranteeing faster treatment than the public health care system can provide, a business opportunity for private clinics arises. It should be kept in mind that the political climate can be a decisive factor for what the future will bring within private health care and the prerequisites for establishment of private clinics abroad can change over time. In order to limit possible challenges, such as changes in governments attitude towards private health care, a well accomplished establishment is of outmost importance. By investigating each countrys laws, regulations and necessary steps for establishing a private clinic, the process can be considerably smoother. Due to the fact that the Nordic countries are following the EU laws and regulations it becomes easier to make business here although local standards must be observed. Specific elements that has been pinpointed in the study is the importance of authorized and registered personnel, application procedures for approvals at local authorities, establishment of a local company and to employ personnel according to the local employment rules. Interviews with Swedish companies established in the Nordic region have also emphasized that the cultural differences should not be underestimated in business situations. Medtech Due to the increased demand for a more modern and effective health care system the need and interest for new innovative products and solutions has been raised. With large investments in the public hospital sector such as building and modernization of hospitals, the demands of offering an efficient and modern treatment has increased. In Norway several hospitals have been built and in Denmark an aggressive modernizing plan has been rolled out. The need and interest for new medtech appliances that can support an increased demand for efficiency on both treatment and work routines is thereby about to become concrete tender opportunities for medtech suppliers. Furthermore the Finnish health care system is about to implement new patient data systems and larger purchase of implants is planned. Common to all Nordic countries is the interest for telemedicine and e-health with backup from the local governments. Several concrete business opportunities for innovative telemedicine solutions in the Nordic countries will be on the agenda in the future. When selling medtech products to the Nordic region most often the EU regulations is applicable, although specific local regulations should be investigated and followed. In Norway another dimension such as customs and VAT rules should be taken into consideration before entering the market. For a successful sales procedure of medtech products in the Nordic countries, it is important to consider how the sales process should be structured. The study illustrates that there are different tender levels in the Nordic countries and that collaboration partners as for example a distributor, agent or sales representative is very important in some situations. Below the threshold value, direct sale is a possible alternative.

Despite being neighboring countries to Sweden, Swedish companies interviewed in the study admit that cultural differences have a true effect on the outcome of the business. Sales channels and partner strategy should also be carefully considered. In Finland for example a Finnish speaking partner is recommended since it can be difficult to manage the internationalization in Swedish. Furthermore the advantage of teaming up with a professional partner in the establishment process in order to minimize bureaucratic barriers has also been pointed out in the study. Welfare technology With an ageing population and decreasing workforce, the demands for efficient work procedures and possibility for elderly people to grow old in their own house, the demand for welfare technology solutions is a fact. The political agenda in Denmark, Finland and Norway is focusing even more now on welfare technology solutions than before. It implies that the governmental support in terms of financial funds and economical contribution can be allocated to private companies offering welfare technology products. The maturity for implementing and supporting welfare technology differ between the Nordic countries. Denmark has been in the forefront for these kinds of solutions for some years and has now changed their strategy from focusing on small developing products to larger well tested appliances. The Finnish government is focusing on increasing and improving the elderly care service, developing user driven technology products as well as focus on welfare technology products in general. The Norwegian government has recently developed a strategy for how and what to focus on within welfare technology. They will especially focus on smart housing, ICT and solutions that can contribute to a better everyday life situation for elderly people. Even though the Nordic market has different experiences within the area of welfare technology the business opportunities will steadily increase as the demand from the government of having an efficient public elderly care system, as well as interest from the elderly people to stay longer in their home with help from assistive technology. Due to the relatively new focus on welfare technology, pilot projects can be a possible way of entering a market. Other sales channels can be through a local partner, participation in tenders or direct sales. It should though be considered that due to some immatureness on the Nordic market and resistance towards technological products and solutions related to the human factor a change in both employees and users mindset is necessary. Product information, branding and marketing campaigns as well as good references is thereby important to implement in the sales process. Experience from Swedish companies established on the Danish market within welfare technology has stressed that the internationalization strategy should be considered carefully. Acquisition, partnership or direct sales have different pros and cons that can affect the sales volumes as well as brand value on the market. By entering a neighboring market, experiences has been gained which is valuable before entering other foreign markets. As well as bringing back the knowledge to Sweden for stronger offerings.

Recommendations Be prepared before internationalize on the Nordic markets o Get informed about what to think about when establish a clinic or selling medtech and welfare technology products in the Nordic region o Be aware of the cultural differences o Set a strategy for how to enter the market

Business opportunities
Example of business opportunities within private health care & life science in the Nordic countries