In March, Finland urgently needed PCR tests in order to diagnose coronavirus cases, but testing capacity in nearby areas was still at a low level. Mehiläinen’s clients required thousands of tests per day but the private healthcare provider was only able to do about a hundred of them. To resolve this problem, Mehiläinen – together with a large coalition of Finnish companies – created an air transport link to a collaborative laboratory in South Korea, where the samples were sent for analysis.
Anssi Hartiala, Managing Director of Mehiläinen’s private healthcare services, explains that new devices for coronavirus diagnostics had been ordered, but the waiting time for their delivery was so long that they could not relieve the acute situation.
In South Korea, the epidemic was already calming down, so I wondered if they might have spare testing capacity. I used a pen and paper to calculate how much the cost of logistics would be for each sample if we were able to send a large enough number at the same time. The cost seemed reasonable. WhatsApp was a brilliant communication tool for arranging the airlift: we could use it to negotiate flights with Finnair, communicate with the South Korean collaboration laboratory and also make arrangements for the logistics chain here in Finland, he says.
Mylab got involved in the project when Mehiläinen wanted to identify the samples to be sent to South Korea using sample numbers and leave out the patient information for data protection. The results received from South Korea would be connected back to the correct patient again within the laboratory information system by using the sample number. The task was assigned on a tight schedule to the integration team on 30 March and it was already completed a week later.
The solution was quite innovative and will provide new possibilities for commissioning tests outside our facilities, says Taija Leppäkoski, Project Manager at Mylab.
In the end, Mehiläinen arranged about ten flights between April and May. Towards the end of April, the demand began to wane when testing capacity in Finland increased. Now, the flight transport link is being kept in place in case of a second wave.
It was a big success that we went from concept to delivery in nine days. Logistics permits, logistics in Finland and South Korea as well as customs permits were all taken care of quickly with help from the Finnish embassy. The companies were all keen to get involved. We were able to increase Finland’s testing capacity significantly, Hartiala says.
Hartiala is happy with Mylab’s efforts in the project as well. He feels that the functionality was created quickly and thousands of results could be connected to the correct patient information in just a moment. Mylab’s Product Development Manager Sami Kuirinlahti feels the same.
The client was very motivated to increase testing capacity. Our cooperation worked beautifully because we had competent people on both sides. Otherwise, this kind of functionality could not be brought into production so quickly, Kuirinlahti summarizes.