SME Barometer: Positive outlook for SMEs in healthcare and social services sector – business unaffected by coronavirus crisis
The short-term expectations of SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector have become increasingly positive since 2020.
According to the new SME Barometer, which surveyed the current situation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the economic outlook for SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector is similar to their peers in other sectors.
The short-term expectations of SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector have become increasingly positive since 2020. The outlook for the size of personnel is also positive in SMEs in this sector, with 13% of the respondents believing that the number of employees will increase over the next 12 months. However, this is less than in other sectors on average. Only 3% of the respondents anticipate a decrease in the number of employees, compared to 8% in all sectors.
“SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector compete for workforce with the public sector. Although there is uncertainty in the sector due to the health and social services reform, for example, the companies have remained positive about the future, as the SME Barometer shows,” says Under-Secretary of State Elina Pylkkänen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
On average, there is less willingness to grow in the healthcare and social services sector, with 35% of SMEs in the sector reporting they have no growth targets. This is significantly less than in other SMEs. However, SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector undertook renewal measures, such as personnel training (63%) and investments (62%), during the year. SMEs in the sector considered sales, marketing, personnel development and training to be the areas most in need of development. The general economic situation and the availability of labour were seen as the most severe external barriers to development.
On the other hand, SMEs in the healthcare and social welfare sector (11%) cited the availability of workforce as an obstacle less often than SMEs in general (17%). The situation was similar in terms of cost level and financing. Compared with respondents in all sectors (10%), a larger share of respondents in the entire healthcare and social services sector (14%) considered regulation a hindrance to business development. SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector also regarded the opportunities offered by digitalisation as less important than in comparable sectors or all sectors, on average.
In preparing for the period after the coronavirus crisis, 35% of SMEs in the healthcare and social services sector said they saw no need to change anything in their activities, while 17% of those surveyed also stated they would return to the pre-coronavirus operating methods. Of the respondents, 14% said they had invested in the development of new products and services that would remain a permanent part of their business. Permanent adoption of new products and services appears more common in all sectors.
Nearly 18,000 SMEs operate in the healthcare and social services sector in Finland and employ 50,000 people in total. In all, 596 companies in the healthcare and social services sector responded to the SME Barometer survey, which was conducted in June–July 2021. Half of the companies in the healthcare and social services sector that responded to the SME Barometer represent the category other healthcare service, which includes self-employed people. Because of the category’s large size, it dominates the results of the SME Barometer for the healthcare and social services sector.
The barometer was produced by Taloustutkimus and published by the Business Sector Services of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
Business Sector Services are expert services provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment that collate, analyse and distribute information about the operating environment for companies and the development of sectors.
Elina Pylkkänen, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 474
Terhi Tevameri, Coordinator for healthcare, social services and wellbeing, TE Office, tel. +358 295 04 4645
Katri Lehtonen, Development Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 064 926