High quality and technically sophisticated medical equipment has market potential in Finland. The United States has a 28 percent share of the total market. Other important external supplier countries are Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and China. Finland also produces high technology medical equipment. Increasing competition in the marketplace is expected as local production expands.
In Finland, the total market size for medical equipment is estimated at $910 million in 2011 by the Finnish Health Technology Association. Total local production is estimated at $1.5 billion in 2011. The operating costs of Finnish hospitals have been reduced, and major hospital procurement is mainly replacing older equipment and buying some new. However, investments in new medical equipment within the private healthcare sector are expected to continue.
The population of Finland is 5.3 million. The municipalities across the country have the responsibility for organizing healthcare as well as specialist medical care for their residents. Finland is divided into 21 hospital districts, including the autonomous province of Aland island that forms its own hospital district. Each district has its own central hospital. Out of the central hospitals, five are university hospitals offering more demanding forms of specialized medical care.
According to the Act on Specialized Medical Care, each municipality must belong to a hospital district. However, municipalities may also purchase specialized healthcare services from outside their own hospital district. The hospital districts are joint municipal boards with governing trustee structures such as Councils and Executive Boards. The hospital districts organize and produce specialized healthcare services for their residents. They may also purchase services from private or third sector service providers or from other hospital districts.
Private healthcare complements the public healthcare system and its share is increasing. The government is discussing increasing the private sector healthcare by fifty percent. Private services are mainly concentrated in larger cities, and they offer medical and dental services, physiotherapy, and occupational healthcare. There are also over 30 private hospitals in Finland. Health insurance covers a part of private medical as well as dental expenses. There is also a partial reimbursement of the costs of tests and treatments prescribed by a doctor.
All regular residents in Finland are entitled to health insurance compensation. Insurance covers the daily sickness benefit and rehabilitation allowance and reimburses private medical and dental fees, laboratory and treatment costs, pharmaceutical expenses as well as travel expenses related to treatment. It also covers maternal, paternal, and parental allowances; the special maternity allowance; and the special care allowance. The amount of sickness insurance depends on what is claimed, and the allowances are assessed according to income.
High quality and technically sophisticated medical equipment has the best market potential in Finland, especially equipment that increases efficiency and reduces occupancy rates in hospitals. Products, such as the following, have the best sales potential in Finland:
• Patient monitoring systems
• Mini invasive surgery (MIS)
• Day surgery equipment
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment
• Video endoscopes
• Digital image processing
• Picture archiving
Municipal health centers provide primary healthcare. A municipality may run its own health center or do so with other municipalities. Some purchase nearly all health services from private providers. Health centers have many branches and wards for bed care. Primary healthcare also covers maternity and child welfare clinics, school health care, medical rehabilitation, and dental care.
Most end users in the Finnish medical sector are public ones. There are five university hospitals located in the cities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Kuopio, and Oulu, 16 central hospitals, 6 regional hospitals, and 48 smaller hospitals in Finland. In addition, there are hospital sections in subsidized health centers. Municipalities own the public subsidized hospitals. Due to budget cuts in public healthcare and reduced occupancy rates, there are no plans currently to build new hospitals in Finland. However, the private healthcare sector is expected to significantly expand.
Total annual expenditures for new equipment are determined in the annual budgets of hospitals. These budgets are prepared according to estimates based on the previous year. The market is very receptive to U.S. products. A considerable portion of the market is penetrated with foreign production, and products from the United States are considered to be very competitive.
Finnish hospitals are eager to try out new technology in the implementation of most modern treatment methods. Implementation of new technologies is rather effective, as Finnish medical personnel are very technology literate. Local distributors provide the market with equipment packages and maintenance programs.