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Toivo peer support app brings hope and support for people with serious illness

Toivo connects people with a serious illness with trained voluntary peer-supporters, who can help them in the different phases of their illness. It is operated by OLKA, which is one of the largest voluntary peer support coordinators in Finland

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Digitalising peer support - from nice-to-have to a must-have

OLKA coordinates volunteer support for patients in Finnish hospitals. It emerged from collaboration between HyTe and HUS and is funded by STEA.

Since OLKA was created, voluntary peer support in special medical care areas has been in high demand. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the operations, as hospital visits of the supporters had to be canceled. To meet the growing demand of support, while tackling the restrictions in live contacts, OLKA started a digital transformation project with a simple goal: Scale-up the program by going virtual. What emerged was something totally new: Toivo application —a platform to connect the volunteers and the patients easily in the time and place of their own convenience.

Toivo mobile application - a trusted source of peer support and information

Toivo peer support mobile application is at the heart of the digital transformation. It is a GDPR compliant, 24/7 all-in-one mobile service, which connects the support seekers with peer supporters via chat or VoiP calls. It is free to use and privacy friendly, as the support seekers can use the service with a nickname without the need to register their personal information.


Search indexes available peer supporters with over 500 keywords and diagnoses, making it easy for the support seekers to find the right match for example different cancers and heart diseases —but also more rare ones like “22q11-duplication”. Especially with the rare diagnostics, a dedicated platform like Toivo is valuable as the go-to-place for trusted information and support.

Data Driven Ecosystem

For the participating NGO’s, a mobile platform is a totally new way to offer their services, promote their events, and connect with their key audiences as part of a wider ecosystem. For OLKA, which coordinates the ecosystem, the platform generates data on how the support network functions, making it easier to further develop the service for all the participants.


Data points on the OLKA management dashboard include the overall activity of the network; the number of contacts, chats and calls, the most active peer supporters and support seekers, the most active NGO’s and so on. The participating NGO’s get regular reports on their own performance in the app, which is essential information for developing their operations and for impact reporting.

Demand is growing and the platform is scaling up

After the launch Toivo has been growing fast. There are now 200 voluntary peer supporters on the platform from over 50 co-operating NGOs, such as Syöpäjärjestöt, Invalidiliitto and Suomen Sydänliitto. Together they have already helped thousands of support seekers who have used the service.


Years 2022 and 2023 have been the years of growth; more NGOs and peer supporters will be joining in Toivo, meaning more content and events for the users.

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“COVID-19 stopped hospital visits. Community activities went online. I got immediately interested when I heard about the peer support app. I think it would have been good to have it before the COVID-19 started, and I think it will remain useful after the corona has passed. Many important support meetings got cancelled due to practicalities being so hard. The application sets us free from shackles of time and space. Corona has showed us that meetings can be done remotely. If the bits can move, why should us —except for the sheer pleasure of the exercise?”


Martti, Peer supporter in Toivo

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“Toivo application is easy to use. It has clear navigation and a well functioning search for finding peer support. The best thing for support seekers is that you can use the app with a nickname only, no registration, no photos needed. It’s really great, if we can serve a wider audience and get help where it’s needed the most with the help of the Toivo app!”


Marjo, Peer supporter in Toivo

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“We knew that in order to grow OLKA peer support activities, we needed a platform of our own and a totally new channel for operating and providing peer support. We knew exactly what we wanted, but it took time to find the right partner that understands what we need. Partner that does not only speak tech, that has GDPR-understanding built-in and a platform that enables us to own the data that is created in the service. Finding a partner like that was crucial for us, since we do not have any tech oriented / understanding people in our organisation.

Then we found Mesensei.We developed our concept in close cooperation with Mesensei. They provided us with the right & suitable technology and helped with legal & concepting skills and knowledge. Mesensei has been a perfect partner for us, because we did not have to turn to any other partners at any point of the whole co-operation for any extra services; Mesensei provided everything we needed. ”


Kaisa Kauhanen, Expert, HyTe

You don’t need to face challenges on your own – help is available.

Toivo app can be downloaded from the AppStore and Play Store. You can also use it with a browser at app.mesensei.com/toivo

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