Lessons from a mentor: the cornerstones of success were built from the patient’s point of view

Meet Juha Arsalo, our new mentor in the Connected Health cluster. He admits that his years in the military have instilled in him an appreciation for organisation and planning, but the devil is in the execution. As a leader his aim is to provide others with a framework and the freedom to attain the agreed results. How could he benefit your company? 

How did the idea to be a mentor/coach for the cluster originate?

Coming from outside the health care sector, I initially struggled with understanding the mechanisms of the sector and even the vocabulary used by the professionals in the field. In the end it was a minor issue, but it left the idea of mentoring brewing in my mind, as I feel I would have greatly benefited from having had one. Now that the opportunity for me to help others presented itself through discussions with a member of the cluster, I jumped on it immediately.

Share some examples of your experience from the Finnish health care sector that would be valuable for cluster companies?

When we were building our clinic’s service portfolio, we always started by finding out what our patients were lacking. This process aided us in choosing which specialists to recruit. The next step was to gather information from the specialist on the tools, diagnostic methods and supporting services they required to best serve the patients. In some cases, this meant investing in tools and machines, whereas some involved tweaking the processes. Nevertheless, we always tried to assess the changes from the point of view of the patient, thus striving for a customer-centric approach. At the end of the day, I would attribute this approach as having been one of the cornerstones of our success.

What kind of mistakes do you see start-ups making?

The biggest issue that I have noticed is the tendency to try to do everything on their own. This becomes an issue of time management as well as mental health. It is difficult to balance, but if possible, delegate; find people you can trust and assign them tasks so you don’t need to always be in control. It also helps to prioritize the things you want to make happen; you have to choose. This is where a vision and a strategy become crucial, because they help fight against feature creep also in service design.

I was lucky with my co-workers , but I must admit, I personally have a problem with delegating. 

Innovations and start-ups are not the first ideas/connections that come to mind with healthcare or military. How do you see this from your perspective?

An important part of creating a successful start-up is about organizing operations and resources in an efficient way. This is essentially what military officers do: we make do with little in order to achieve a maximum impact. In effect, this often requires an innovative way of thinking and solving the problems and challenges one faces in the field. Many of these issues are also very pertinent to start-up entrepreneurs, especially those that have to boot-strap their way to success.

Healthcare is a very traditional field with low acceptance of novelty solutions, and for good reason: when dealing with peoples’ lives and health implications, the processes, tools and practices must be well understood, researched and validated. But when those aspects are fulfilled, a new idea or solution has the opportunity to gain traction. Equally, there are many professionals within the field who understand that the current models and ways of working are not financially sustainable, so an interest in change and improvement is present. Therefore, the field is ripe for disruption. It is nevertheless crucial to fully understand and respond to customers’ pain, and therefore necessary to cultivate confidential relationships with practitioners. The importance of finding early adopters cannot be understated because validation for clinical solutions is easier within their networks and eventually the market.

Who should contact you?

I’m quite open, the crazier the idea the better. 


Connect with Juha:


Our coaches: