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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 Thordur Reynisson from Iceland, senior innovation adviser at Nordic Innovation, about the COVID-19 outbreak and the importance of sharing innovative solutions.

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

I think the Nordics have all reacted in a very responsible and informative way addressing this unwelcomed enemy. The Nordics have capitalized on equal access to healthcare and testing, good general public health, and the ability to utilize a strong private sector within healthcare. The competence to swiftly share accurate information within the Nordics has played a vital role in preventing further spread and to take immediate and necessary actions at a proportional level. Consequently, the Nordic countries currently have low mortality rates compared to our counterparts and actions to stop the spread have in many cases been more proportionate in the Nordics.

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?

Given the pace of the incredible innovative solutions being born in the Nordics, we saw it as our responsibility at Nordic Innovation to swiftly share that knowledge and further inspire Nordic cooperation on addressing challenges posed by the virus. We teamed up with Julia Barne at Cerner on creating the booklet. A roster was drawn up consisting of several interesting solutions from each of the Nordic countries. The solutions were systematically assessed, and we selected 2 ready-to-use solutions from each of the Nordic country spanning different categories of solutions.

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?

The Nordic welfare-model provides equal access to healthcare for all the Nordic citizens with a very good patient-treatment. This has been invaluable, and many lives have been saved. I believe that our health-data resource and the competence to utilize data has proved to be incredibly beneficial battling the spread of the virus and providing Nordic citizens with prompt and correct information. However, one of the most important and often overseen factor is the citizens trust in the system and the fact that the people have followed guidance from the governments. These three factors, equal access to quality healthcare, responsible utilization of data and a general public trust towards the system puts the Nordics in an unparalleled position to cope with this crisis.

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?

This crisis does challenge Nordic integration and we have been forced to improvise and rethink how we cooperate, especially over the “clogged” Nordic boarders. However, this situation also demonstrates how vital integration on innovation is in the Nordic countries. The challenges posed are common, not only the health-related challenges but also to our economy and social wellbeing. Therefore, it is of evermore importance that innovations are shared with our Nordic fellows and companies.

Since the crises hit, we have seen a lot of very smart Nordic innovations addressing these challenges been developed and taken into use at a faster pace than ever before. This has clearly revealed that it is possible to speed up this process, even under current circumstances. Our task is to make sure that we keep this momentum and strive to make the Nordics the most integrated region on the world.

At Nordic Innovation we will continue to facilitate this process. Our most notable next initiative will be the publication of a thorough overview of possibilities and obstacles for sharing of health data across the Nordics. We anticipate that this initiative will facilitate Nordic integration and benefit Nordic SMEs.

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. If you consider your idea or solution relevant to the Health, Demography and Quality of Life program please contact Thordur Reynisson or Rasmus Malmborg who are responsible for the program by sending them email found on Nordic Innovation’s website.

We also spoke to Rasmus Malmborg, see the interview here: https://ehin.no/2020/covid-19-speeds-up-healthcare-digitalization/

Interview by Cora Schreurs (Communications Advisor)

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