Another reason is that, like aviation, the healthcare industry is staffed by extremely well-qualified experts. “It’s a people-to-people industry. In the past, I’d been dealing with large groups of highly skilled and high-profile individuals, and I’ve always enjoyed that,” Ville says.
“One inspiring thing for me in aviation was dealing day in, day out with professionals like airline captains. Some people feel that they are difficult people to deal with, but I have never felt that way. They are talented, they are skilled, they know their value. But you can reason with them – you just need to be on the same level and respect their views, and take it from there.
“I thought that this could be a similar kind of world in that sense, and that’s at least my early experience; the same goes with the healthcare professionals, I enjoy working with them.”
Zero to a billion
Founded in 2001, Terveystalo has expanded rapidly, often through acquisitions, to become the largest healthcare service company in Finland, with 2020 revenues of just under €1 billion.
The company has around 300 clinics around Finland and employs some 13,000 healthcare professionals, offering occupational healthcare, medical and examination services, diagnostic services, outpatient surgery, dental services and a suite of digital healthcare options.
People here are hardworking, but they are humble. They put their necks out for our customers and patients.
Its customers include businesses, private individuals, insurance companies and the public sector. “Terveystalo is only 20 years old and has grown from zero to a €1 billion company quite fast,” Ville explains.
“It has the ability to maintain growth and maintain high margins at the same time, which has allowed us to invest in a lot of different capabilities and processes. Then, when the industry is in transformation, those can be further leveraged for the benefit of our customers.”
Nearly all of this impressive growth has come from expanding within Finland, but the company recently made its first foray abroad by acquiring a 97.42% stake in Feelgood, Sweden’s leading healthcare provider.
“I’m really proud of all the assets that we have in our possession,” Ville smiles. “The skill set and technologies are one part, which is really, really important. The other is that even though we are a margin leader in the Nordics when it comes to profitability; this is still a highly value-based company.”
While adhering to strict ethical guidelines and always putting medical science first, the company also remains target-driven when it comes to results. “People here are hardworking, but they are humble. They put their necks out for our customers and patients. At the same time, they are really target-driven. I think it’s a unique combination,” Ville says.
Tackling supply restrictions
Managing the contradicting targets and drivers inside Terveystalo requires a large amount of transparency and discussion, according to Ville. “I want to have that discussion all the time, even though we are dealing with patients and medical science, because I feel that when we are able to build customer value, then our revenue is in shape,” he says.
“When we are able to build productivity, then our costs are in good shape.” Ville believes that while the healthcare industry as a whole has taken care of the medical side of things very well, it has done a poor job of improving customer experience and productivity.
This industry has been lazy in terms of customer loyalty.
“You can look at it from any angle, from public or private or whatever – this industry needs productivity. This is a supply-restricted industry, and being able to develop productivity is a virtue,” he points out.
“That’s what we are pushing for.” Part of Terveystalo’s growth strategy is, therefore, focused on investing in customer relationships and engagement. This can be as simple as making sure to check in with customers at a certain time after they last interacted with the company to ask how they are doing.
“This industry has been lazy in terms of customer loyalty,” Ville asserts. “It has been passive in waiting for customers to just pop up with issues and symptoms, and not taking care of the follow-up or asking, ‘How are you?’ in the meantime – not investing in the relationship.”
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 crisis has amplified an already growing trend of people being more interested in their health and wellbeing. Ville sees this as a great opportunity that many private healthcare providers are passing by.
There is now an opening for a new type of engagement with customers who may not necessarily be sick or have acute problems, but nonetheless are interested in services from medical professionals to ensure they stay healthy.
Terveystalo’s leadership in technology and digital services will help it meet this demand. The company has invested heavily in user-friendly digital platforms that make it easy to keep engaging with its roughly 1.2 million customers.
“We are creating a truly integrated company with truly integrated service operations for this industry, and this requires a lot of investment in a smart platform,” Ville reveals. “This also gives professionals and customers alike the use of hybrid processes, physical or digital, according to what are their individual choices.”
Having customers and staff navigate the platform in this hybrid way allows the company to better use its capacity and makes for better demand-supply matching and smarter pricing. “This allows us to get more out of the restricted capacity that health care is always dealing with,” he adds.
Terveystalo’s investments in technology are creating comprehensive systems that will make it far easier for the company to continue growing by ensuring scalability in the business model. “These are capabilities that can be scaled to other markets as well,” Ville says. “The future will show when and how and where that’s going to happen.”
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