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How a mobile caravan was converted into a mobile healthcare centre in remote areas in Finland

A mobile caravan was converted and fitted out as a mobile healthcare centre to provide an easy-to-access medical service to people living in rural and remote areas in Finland. The nurses working in the bus provide a set of medical services and help to overcome the lack of healthcare services in remote areas.

The context

Many people who live in remote areas have a restricted access to healthcare services. Healthcare providers tend to locate their main facilities in centralised sites, such as cities or high-density areas, to reduce the cost and because it is not profitable to be located in low-density areas. Therefore, residents, workers and visitors have to go to towns and travel long distance if they need any form of medical attention. To overcome the lack of healthcare services in rural and remote areas, the project ‘Mallu does the rounds’, providing mobile healthcare services for remote areas, has been created in Finland. The Mallu bus is designed by the South Karelia Social and Health Care District (Eksote) to be an easy-to-use medical service for people in rural areas.

How does it work?

Originally, the project consists to convert a mobile caravan into a mobile healthcare centre. Once the mobile caravan is equipped to fit out as a mobile healthcare centre, the Mallu bus drives from small towns to remote areas. It has a fixed route around a catchment area of eight municipalities. Inside the bus, nurses provide a carefully coordinated set of medical services from the mobile unit. These cover pharmacy tasks, health guidance, conducting small operations and blood pressure monitoring. Their work is connected to centralised patient information systems thanks to on-board computer and broadband equipment. This equipment brings all the health district’s databases to the vehicle and the technology can be used for real-time consulting with more specialised medical staff, working at the healthcare centre in the city, if needed.


The results

The ‘Mallu bus’ project demonstrates the broad range of benefits that this type of good practice can deliver.

  • The service covers an area with at least 100 000 potential patients;
  • It supports the independent living of elderly residents and helps to prevent illness;
  • This mobile approach to rural healthcare is more cost-effectiveness for patients and for health services as nurses only recommend patients to see a doctor if they really need an appointment. This enables the doctors to concentrate better on their own tasks and therefore improves the efficiency of regional health centres;
  • The bus meets significant needs amongst populations who live in remote areas as well as providing the social and health care authorities with vital information about rural healthcare needs.

For more information, visit the ENRD project website

Visit the Mallu Bus project website

28 August 2017

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