Digitalization in occupational healthcare and how occupational healthcare supports the change in working life

Abstract for a workshop during the NIVA course on eHealth Revolution and Changing Work, 18th – 20th of September 2018, Hanaholmen – the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre, Espoo, Finland

Minna Pihlajamäki, Medical Director, Occupational Health Physician, Terveystalo group

New digital knowledge was increasing 60 % every year within the time period 2000 – 2011 (IDC, Hilbert & Lopez, 2011). We describe this period as a digitalization and a data explosion. The amount of digital information reached the amount of analogue data over the years 2002 – 2003. Of all new information born in 2007, 96 % were digital and in 2011 the corresponding figure was 99 %. The world is currently estimated to have 8 zeta (1 ZB = 〖10〗^21 bytes) of digital information. In practice, this means one thousand bytes of information for every second in the life of every person in the world. The amount of data is estimated to almost double each year. The amount of information is enormous also in occupational healthcare. The question is no longer that we have no knowledge, but how we use the existing knowledge.

The aim of occupational healthcare is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and to support the work ability of the employees. Occupational healthcare is a healthcare system for a working population whose main task is to promote workers’ safety, health and working ability. Based on information on occupational healthcare, co-operation can be used to target actions in a timely and targeted manner. In changing working life, occupational healthcare plays an important role in managing change with employer and employees especially if health problems occur.

Occupational healthcare promotes health and safety at workplaces on many levels, such as at an individual and organizational level. Activities include identification of workplace needs, prevention of health risks, promotion and maintenance of work capacity of the employee, and, where appropriate, treatment and remedial measures. Occupational healthcare must act customer-oriented, independent, ethically, confidentially, multidisciplinary and multi-professionally.

When analyzing data, we have to constantly think about what is reliable, how to utilize information and how information supports decision-making.

Knowledge is democratized and decision-making about health issues belongs to each and every one of them. We need to change health and change our own activities. This is already happening and today. Technical platforms and digitalization help to support lifestyle changes cost-effectively. We are ready for it!

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