We talked to Aki Kuivalainen, CEO of Predicell, about the home healthcare service chain, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aki Kuivalainen: Taking the circumstances into account, we’re dealing fine. The whole family went thru covid-19 in late November 2020. Luckily with quite light symptoms. Moderate headache and tiredness for five days was my case. Since we’re dealing with individual healthcare data, I was able to see the first symptoms two days before the headache started. Blood pressure and heart rate in rest situation were approx.. 20% higher than I normally have. So I was able to be prepared for the symptoms.
The whole family of four are now in remote mode, so we have almost office atmosphere here during the working days.
Otherwise, we’ve minimized physical contact with the people outside the family, which is sad but understandable and highly recommended.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Predicell.
Aki Kuivalainen: I come from an entrepreneurial family, and owning the business has always been natural for me with its pros and cons. Even though I’ve enjoyed working as an employer as well, I established my first company in the late nineties to help municipalities in children welfare and social care cases. Run that for 6years. After that, I’ve been working in business development and other leadership positions both in publicly listed and private companies in the field of healthcare and social care. Technology has always been playing a supportive role for me, even when working directly with patients/customers in need of care.
Our company Predicell Ltd. was founded and established in October 2019. In our founding team, we have ex-colleagues from the company we dealt with home healthcare service chain. We had a common shared vision, ready to buy customers, so we were positively forced to found the company as a legal entity to deliver the service for the first customers.
How does Predicell innovate?
Aki Kuivalainen: In our company, we don’t have a structured innovation process in place. Since we’re rather a small team, we rely on innovating by learning method. Naturally, our innovation process is linked into the customer interface from where needs and signals are best to collect for the innovation process.
First, we have a hypothesis or argument, which we start to evaluate either if true or not. When the hypothesis has been found to be true by tests, in customer discussion or trial, we move forward with the innovation. To not lose any ideas and to avoid evaluating the same hypothesis once again, we document ideas, thoughts, etc., into our books.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Aki Kuivalainen: In spring 2020, when the pandemic hit really the healthcare system, our already planned delivery projects were postponed. This affected our finances naturally and to our growth targets for 2020. The positive side here was that we were able to develop our customer journey process during the silent time of new deliveries. We’re happy that in autumn 2020, new projects were able to start and are still continuing. Also, our existing deliveries are expanding to new user groups, so we see 2021 from a financial point of view positively at the moment. Our service supports remote monitoring of outpatients, reduces the need for physical visits, which increases work safety for care staff, and by that, resources can be available for acute actions during the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Aki Kuivalainen: In our case, we didn’t need to adjust our human resources due to the pandemic. From day one, we’ve been a remote team, so any daily practicalities didn’t change due to the pandemic. Naturally, when you’re developing and growing, you need to develop working methods constantly.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Aki Kuivalainen: Since we’re quite a young company with not that many customers so far we’re able to be in direct and managed relationship towards our customers. Yet we don’t have a particular CRM-system or similar, but we’ve build processes over customers and deliver information linked with communication and project management tools we’re using. We’ve in same project management tool sales project, delivery project, and development project managed.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Aki Kuivalainen: Actually, we haven’t benefited from any government so far. We’ve dealt with our cash flow. When the first government grants due to the pandemic became available, we were too small to be granted. Another instrument directed to self-entrepreneurs wasn’t also for us since we’re a team. These factors are kept us innovative and agile to continue and grow our business during these challenging times globally.
Your final thoughts?
Aki Kuivalainen: Even though last year has been in many ways challenging and demanding, we see our future positively. The most important task during these days is just to stay healthy and safe, and when one gets sick, to do the best to fight back.
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