Coronavirus pandemic waves complicated planning. Challenges in staff availability affected our services. The year 2021 was also a year of IT system reform.

About 42% of the operating revenue of the HUS Diagnostics Center in 2021 came from coronavirus test sampling or analytics. 

“The pandemic waves made planning complicated and leached resources from other activities. Because of this, many development projects progressed slower than planned,” says Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostic Services.

The deployment of the new Apotti IT system in the spring was not without its problems, causing extra work and complications in conveying imaging examination results to some of our customers. On the other hand, the digipathology project progressed according to plan. Digitalization in the pathology report service will facilitate enhanced specialist medical services in the health care units for which we provide these services. 

HUS Diagnostikcentrums tjänster 2021 Qty
2021 2020 2021–2020 Change %
Radiological examinations and procedures 1,151,522 1,128,943 22,579 2.0%
Pathology 384,606 391,963 -7,357 -1.9%
Sample collection 5,786,736 4,121,020 1,665,716 40.4%
Clinical physiology examinations and isotope studies 327,380 310,892 16,488 5.3%
Clinical neurophysiology examinations 26,551 26,093 458 1.8%
Genetics 51,076 45,638 5,438 11.9%
Chemistry and hematology 19,202,307 18,584,071 618,236 3.3%
Blood products 97,861 105,296 7,435 -7.1%
Microbiology 3,832,730 2,339,130 1,493,600 63.9%
Total 30,860,769 27,061,953 3,798,816 14.0%
Clinical genetics appointments 6,981 7,213 -232 -3.2%
Number of specializing physicians by specialty 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Radiology 62 65 63 69 74
Patology 13 14 14 16 14
Clinical physiology and nuclear medicine 9 9 10 9 10
Clinical genetics and clinical pharmacology 12 11 11 12 10
Clinical neurophysiology 9 9 9 8 10
Clinical chemistry 8 6 4 6 6
Clinical microbiology 3 4 3 5 6

Coronavirus test sampling and analytics

Our extensive network of coronavirus test sampling points consisted of locations managed by ourselves and locations managed by subcontractors in Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso. There were nearly 50 sampling points in all. Appointments could be booked by self-service using the Coronabot or the Omaolo online platform.

In addition to testing at sampling points, we ran mass tests on construction sites and at educational institutions. Our sampling staff also participated in health safety measures at border crossings points at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Helsinki ports, Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa.

The digital FINENTRY service was in use to guide coronavirus testing for persons entering Finland, and the nationwide sampling network established by the HUS Diagnostic Center through competitive tendering handled the actual testing. This network had about 20 testing locations.

We put the rental capacity for coronavirus analytics to tender in spring 2021, acquiring more capacity at a lower cost. In 2021, we saw the emergence of new coronavirus variants, and we have been monitoring their incidence through sample sequencing in close cooperation with the University of Helsinki. We have been performing coronavirus sample sequencing by random sampling ever since the start of the pandemic, even though it causes a lot of extra work. The PCR method that identifies S gene deletion, which we leased for population tests, has proved useful in rapid identification of certain coronavirus variants such as beta and omicron.

Digipathology project to streamline the service chain

The digipathology project is simply about converting traditional pathology specimen slides into digital form with a slide scanner, allowing the specimens to be viewed on a computer screen instead of under a microscope.

“Digitizing specimen slides makes it quicker to examine the specimen, besides allowing for more accurate measurements and determinations. It is also easier to demonstrate the findings at clinical-pathological meetings, for instance,” says Chief Physician Taneli Tani from the pathology laboratory at Hyvinkää Hospital.

Pathologists can consult one another independently of time and place in the digital realm, without having to transport physical specimens from one facility to another. With digitized specimens, a clinical-pathological meeting can be called within a fraction of the time previously used just to compile the specimen slides.

The HUS Diagnostic Center is gradually progressing towards a fully digital pathology process. In 2021, we integrated slide scanning into the patient information and image management systems. We also installed slide scanners at Hyvinkää and Kotka, with a combined capacity of more than 100,000 slides per year.

“We will be adding to scanner capacity with devices at Meilahti and Jorvi in 2022, at which point we will be able to digitize 100% of tissue specimen slides. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a uniform process for all pathology laboratories of the Diagnostic Center,” says Chief Physician Tuomas Mirtti from the pathology laboratory at Meilahti.