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The story of the Heart Hospital

Early days of Heart Hospital

The story of the Heart Hospital began in 2002 when the decision was made to find out what the patient’s care path was like in the organisation model of the day. The aim of the study was to find out how smoothly a patient’s care progressed in a model, where different heart professionals operated in several different units.

The findings showed that the traditional model slowed down the patient’s treatment. For example, a coronary heart attack patient with acute chest pain sometimes ended up switching units or departments more than 15 times during one hospitalisation. Such transfers between units lead to delays in treatment. Earlier it could take up a patient up to a week to have an angiogram, whereas nowadays they would have it within 24 hours.

The Heart Hospital gets shape

Based on the findings, we started looking for a new, more effective treatment model. We searched around the world for alternatives, but no ready models or solutions were available at that time. Heart Hospital had to develop a completely new and unique operating model in which the patient is placed at the centre of the operations.

The reform was launched in 2004 when Heart Hospital was detached from Tampere University Hospital and turned into an independent process organisation, where hospital functions centre around the patient’s care path. The detachment meant that all professional groups in Heart Hospital became part of the same organisation. In the new model, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, and cardio-anaesthesiology all work as a single team and the patient remains in the same unit throughout their treatment period. The reform has accelerated both the care path and access to treatment.

New management model – a tool for better treatment

Since becoming an independent operator, Heart Hospital had to develop its business model. The objective was for the unit to have its own independent management and its own budget, which would enable its business to be developed efficiently also from the financial point of view.

The development work started in 2007 when Heart Hospital was re-licensed. The independence of the hospital was strengthened further when its business unit was renamed TAYS Heart Hospital Ltd in early 2010. The transition to a limited company meant that Heart Hospital was no longer operating under the University Hospital’s public-sector budget but became an independent business unit.

Heart Hospital’s current governance model has made it possible to develop faster and more flexible operations. The transition to a limited partnership has required the hospital’s operating models, such as patient care pathway, to be developed more efficiently. The quality of patient care improves when it focuses on the right things.

Heart Hospital seeks health benefits – not profit

Usually, the most important task of a limited liability company is to generate a profit for its owners. Not so with Heart Hospital, where the goal is to provide health benefits: The hospital’s charter states that the company’s goal is to ensure effective and financially viable patient care, not to make a profit. Since becoming a limited liability company, Heart Hospital must still be profitable so that it can continue to be developed for the benefit of the patients.

Heart Hospital is a good example of how business models that have proved effective in the corporate world can also work in specialised healthcare, and public-sector health care can be effective, high-quality and profitable, all at the same time.

Heart Hospital’s operations are governed by ethical principles and the benefits to patients’ health. The ethical nature of the operations is also considered by the company’s owner, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, who monitors the hospital’s operations and sets the company reasonable performance goals.

Heart Hospital’s approach, combining public- and private-sector operating models, is globally unique.