Covid-19 speeds up healthcare digitalization

30. april 2020

Nordic Innovation is an organization striving to integrate cooperation between the Nordic countries to make the Nordic countries a pioneering region for sustainable growth and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. Especially in times like this, they act as a medium for which innovative healthcare solutions can go through. As part of the said cooperation they have staff from every corner of the Nordics. We have taken a chat with Danish Rasmus Malmborg, senior innovation adviser at Nordic Innovation, about the COVID-19 outbreak and different solutions.

COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise. Do you think the Nordics have reacted in a different way than other countries?

It is still too early to say which was the best way to handle the COVID-19 crisis, but it is clear that all the Nordic countries so far, even with different strategies, are managing the disease in a good way. Numbers, both of fatalities, and people in intensive care are low compared to many other countries that we normally compare ourselves to. Our health care systems, social services and our populations are responding well to the crisis.

You have published a guide, or an overview, over Nordic solutions coping with the COVID-19. Can you tell something on the process collecting these solutions?

First of all it is important to acknowledge that we are well aware that the list of solutions being showcased here are by no means all the Nordic solutions which are out there. However, we do believe that it is important to assist in spreading the news around the Nordics that there are solutions which have been developed and tried out in countries with similar health care systems which could be of interest.

Nordic Innovation is and agile organization and we quickly got the go ahead and managed to set up a fruitful collaboration with Julia Barne from Cerner in Stockholm on doing some of the ground work for the booklet. A roster was drawn up consisting of a number of solutions from each country which potentially could be of interest. We then systematically assessed the solutions, trying to pick solutions which were within different categories/ types of solutions and solutions which are ready to use, and choosing two solutions from each Nordic country.

The Nordics are known for having very good healthcare systems. Do you think the Nordics are especially good positioned to cope with a crisis like this?

There is no doubt that good health care systems with good access for the population is very important. The Nordic region is also early adapters of new technology which may well help to reach a larger part of the population quickly an effectively with information. I also think that the fact that the Nordic populations on average, has good health even when they get older, has a positive effect on why we fare better in the Nordics than comparable countries and regions.

With an even better use of public data and private health data – handled in a safe and secure way, the Nordics could potentially have handled the crisis even better in the form of early warning of a disease outbreak and an individual’s knowledge that she or he is getting sick. 

Nordic Innovation is promoting a better integration of Nordic countries on innovation. Do you think the COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to speed this process up?

There is a need to focus more on preventive health and a potential in further digitization and cross border utilization of public and health data that we hope will catapult the development of cross border solutions for better health for the individuals and for even better healthcare services. Under this COVID-19 crisis we see that new solutions are now being introduced and tried out at a much quicker pace than before the crisis. Assuming that this is done in a safe and secure way, this is very positive and may well help the integration of the Nordic countries on innovation. Furthermore, in a months’ time, we will be publishing a legal overview showcasing the legal obstacles in sharing health data across the Nordic boarders and we hope that this will also be helpful in further strengthening Nordic collaboration.  

If anyone has additional ideas or solutions, how do they approach you with that?

At Nordic Innovation we are always keen on hearing about new ideas. On our website www.nordicinnovation.org/health we provide overview of our initiatives and hopes for the future. You also have the possibility to approach Thordur Reynisson and Rasmus Malmborg who are responsible for the program by sending us an email. The email addresses are found on Nordic Innovation’s website and on the second page of the booklet.

We also spoke to Rasmus Malmborg, see the interview here: https://ehin.no/2020/sharing-is-caring

Interview by Cora Schreurs (Communications Advisor)

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