Estonian Digital Health Series: Connected Health Interview

Category: Blog

By Janice


Hi there Külle, could you tell us a little about Connected Health and the motivations behind the cluster?
Connected Health Cluster brings together 70+ partners, including 47 companies (start-ups, medical software, devices, biotechnology and pharma), R&D partners (universities and technology development centres), health and wellness service providers (hospitals, GPs, occupational health, spas, fitness and sports), and public sector (ministries responsible for healthcare and entrepreneurship, national health insurance, national e-health development agency).

The cluster has got three aims: to initiate new need based innovations, boost export of cluster companies and make Estonia the best place to do health technology entrepreneurship. Tallinn Science Park is leading the cluster in order to fullfill its strategic goal to develop technology entrepreneurship and achieve best goals for its client companies and for myself, as the cluster manager, developing health technologies entrepreneurship help me also to give my contribution to the better, healthier world for all of us.

In your mind, what makes Estonia so innovative when it comes to Digital Health?
The open mindset and trust of people living in Estonia to use digital services and the flexible easy to start digital infrastructure called x-road. It is all possible due to one identity number and identity card  and mobile ID for each person that one can use for all public services and many private services. It is also very important that the health data belongs to the person himself and not to the state or health care providers.

What are the main reasons UK businesses would benefit from working with Estonian digital health companies?
Several Estonian digital health companies have 10 years of experience in developing, implementing and running digital health solutions for whole Estonia and some also in other countries, i.e. Nortal has recently built the e-health in Lithuania. Cognuse has implemented its solution in several large hospitals in the USA. Many of them are happy to cooperate with UK companies and deliver solutions in the UK or anywhere in the wide world.

What sort of offerings are available for international Digital Health companies looking to do business within Estonia?
Estonia is small as a market but we are opening our state digital health infrastructure for validating ones’ services with the right selection of target clients from 1.3 million people and enabling to connect private digital health solutions with the central system health data while the person himself allows so. Due to the 10 years of running the national digital health infrastructure and population-based biobank of the Estonian Genome Centre with 5% of the population as gene donors with valid informed consent, Estonia is a great place to do research and develop big data based services and products.

97% of prescriptions in Estonia are now digital. How quickly are digital health solutions being adopted by the Estonian health service providers? Do you think other European countries could benefit from increased uptake and innovation of Digital Health.

With 9 months 80% of prescriptions became digital. For sure all countries would benefit from digital health as it is bases for safer (based on knowing all needed and only needed health and medical data presented in a user friendly form about a person in a situation the person appears in any health care institution) healthcare for each individual and more data for research and development which means quicker and better new drugs, methods and services.

How does Connected Health help to facilitate the growth of Estonian Digital Health companies?
There are four main tools we use and that are well appreciated by our members: networking events to build new relations, international contacts with potential partner, clients and investors, relevant information about events, competitions, pre-commercial procurements, and advice from our mentors. The companies also do joint developments and share knowledge to become stronger together either in Estonia or internationally.

What are your main goals as a cluster for 2017?
We want to open the national digital health infrastructure for private companies in close cooperation with our Ministry of Social Affairs and start active implementation of telehealth services in the primary care in close cooperation with our National Health Insurance Fund. Internationally our aim is to raise the number of visitors at our cluster homepage and get a good number of partnering requests for our companies. In numbers, we work to have at least five of our companies entering a new market in 2017 and have three more startups initiated thanks to our work.

Where do you see the wider Digital Health industry progressing to? Both within Estonia and internationally?
The conservative health sector is opening up more and more and there are good times ahead to use the opportunities of having a growing number of experienced 65+ people who want to contribute actively. We can also become smarter to provide new more efficient tools for preventing chronic and lifestyle diseases using modern technologies and our knowhow in behavioural psychology. The technologies and know how is there, and more is coming with VR, AI, IoT, etc.

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Estonian Digital Health Series: Connected Health Interview first published on Company Connecting February 2017
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