Connected Health connects you with the Estonian health innovation ecosystem – we help you to find information or partners, so you can start taking advantage of the unique environment Estonia offers.

Connected Health, founded by the Science Park Tehnopol, is a country-wide partnership between health-related stakeholders in Estonia, who are committed to accelerating the adoption of connected health solutions, on an international scale and on commercial terms.

The cluster brings together 80+ partners, including 43 companies (start-ups, health IT, medtech, biotech, and pharma), R&D partners (universities and technology competence centres), health and wellness service providers (hospitals, GPs, occupational health, spas, fitness and sports), patient organisations and user communities, and public sector (ministries responsible for healthcare and entrepreneurship, national health insurance, and the national health development agency).

The cluster is part of the European Connected Health Alliance and ScanBalt network.

 

Brief description of the project

The project brings together several parties in healthcare (health tech startups, needs-based partners, i.e. hospitals and patient organisations, and IT companies) to create new services and products that help solve problems related to healthcare.

The development of services and products is successful provided that such services and products can be tested in Estonia as well as on foreign markets. This requires cooperation between partners, joint marketing activities and increasing export capacity.

An internationally recognised cluster enables the joint development of tech solutions for healthcare, helps find new partners and increases expert knowledge and export capacity within the cluster.

Objective:

1) Cluster partners team up to develop new or improve existing solutions to healthcare problems;

2) Cluster partners are familiar with their target markets, have international visibility and market their products and services together;

3) The cluster has international visibility, mediates the experience of other countries and establishes contacts needed for Estonian companies.

Result

New solutions have both a direct and broad impact because they support the economic success of partners and reduce the burden put on the medical system as well as improve the availability and quality of services.

Name of the foundation

European Regional Development Fund (support measure for the development of EAS clusters)

Grant amount

600,000 euros

 

Connected Health Cluster Strategy for 2019-2023

The Strategy of the Connected Health Cluster for 2019-2023 is based on the strategy of the previous period, i.e. 2015-2020, and develops it further. In comparison with the previous period, a clearer focus was placed on technological developments in the area of health (with an emphasis on digital solutions). The cluster helped place many new solutions on the market and developed the model of the need-based health innovation programme, which is a methodological approach to boosting new healthcare technology companies as well as products and services. The new strategy is based on the experience gained and knowledge of how to support the placement of new products and services on the market and successful sales considering the unique characteristics of the health sector.

The four most important components of the strategy are as follows:

  • the goals set for the strategy period by target groups (startups, IT companies and needs-based partners, i.e. providers of health services and patient organisations)
  • important processes that must work so that the established goals can be achieved (joint development activities, joint marketing, internationalisation)
  • organisational capability (organisational structure, partners and management of the cluster)
  • financial capacity (exit strategy and diversity of sources of income)

In addition to these four central views, the strategy includes an in-depth description of the unique characteristics and competitive advantages of the healthcare technology sector and the cluster’s contribution to the creation and maintenance of competitive advantages. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the cluster have been analysed on the basis of the SWOT method, and the main measures for managing bigger risks have been described. The broader trends in the area of health are described in an annex to the strategy document (including a more detailed description of the field) and the links between the cluster’s strategy and other important strategies and development plans in the area of health, which the Connected Health Cluster has considered upon establishment of its goals, are highlighted. The annex also includes a detailed introduction of the team, an in-depth risk analysis and a glossary of the terms and acronyms used in the document.

Several discussions and seminars with the cluster’s partners were held in 2018 for the preparation of the strategy, and the inputs provided have been taken into account in the preparation of the document. The report of the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA)[1] gave important guidelines to the cluster.

The strategy was prepared on the basis of the strategies and courses of action that shape the area in Estonia, the most important of which are the R&D and Innovation Strategy for the Estonian Health System 2015-2020, the Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020 prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Estonian Competition Plan Estonia 2020, the Estonian Information Society Development Plan Estonia 2020 and the eHealth Strategic Development Plan 2020. The points of contact between the cluster and the aforementioned strategies and development plans are described in greater detail in Annex 2 to the strategy.

In its activities, the cluster combines health and ICT solutions, i.e. it contributes directly to the growth areas of smart specialisation, which the Estonian Development Fund has highlighted as a priority in its reports.

Mission of the Connected Health Cluster:

The cluster is a platform for the co-creation of health technology solutions and placement thereof on the market.

Vision of the Connected Health Cluster:

The technological solutions of the cluster members have saved resources in the area of health and improved the quality of health services.

Competitive advantages of the healthcare technology sector, business and the environment in Estonia

The health systems of Estonia and most developed countries in the world are under pressure, the population is ageing and demand for the accessibility and quality of health services is growing faster than health systems manage to provide solutions. The business models used in the health sector reproduce inefficiency and duplication, and they focus on treating the consequences instead of prevention and early detection or treatment results.

Several surveys in Estonia have indicated that the Estonian health system is not sustainable if no changes are made[2]. There are several reasons behind the increase in health expenditure, but one of the main ones is the use of service processes, business models and solutions that do not implement modern technologies. Due to the complexity of the organisation of health (regulations, clinical culture, funding, data protection, organisation, length of studies of healthcare professionals, multitude of partners, contradicting stimuli, length of innovation cycle, strong impact of pharmaceutical corporations), it is difficult for states (90% of the funding and organisation of healthcare is managed by states) to create solutions via top-down management that would cover the needs of healthcare systems. The system is complex, projects are large and many countries (the UK, Slovakia, Germany) have failed painfully with national IT projects in healthcare. Most modern healthcare systems support 20th century technologies with funding models (bulk drugs, expensive medical equipment), not 21st century ones (preventive algorithms, accessibility, constant measurement of quality, etc.).

Technology startups, small companies that start changing the system by operating with a narrower focus, look for new business models and create precedents of new business models, manage to create examples of how to make healthcare function reasonably (by contributing to prevention and early detection) and cut costs.

[1] https://www.cluster-analysis.org/

[2] http://www.praxis.ee/tood/hk-prognoosimudel/

 

Partners

https://echalliance.site-ym.com/ http://scanbalt.org/

Members of Advisory Board 2019

Siim Nahkur

Celsius Healthcare,
representative of Health IT companies
siim@celsius.ee

Priit Kruus

Dermtest,
representative of startup companies
priit.kruus@dermtest.com

Margus Jäger

Quretec,
representative of biotech companies
margus.jager@quretec.com

Peeter Ross

Tallinn University of Technology,
representative of R&D institutions
peeter.ross@ttu.ee

Kati Korm

Tartu University Hospital,
representative of hospitals,
kati.korm@kliinikum.ee

Kalle Killar

Ministry of Social Affairs
representative of public 
sector
kalle.killar@sm.ee

Triin Perkson

Family physician,
representative of GPs

triin.perkson@gmail.com

Piret Hirv

Connected Health Cluster Manager

+3725087043

Oliver Loit

HealthTech and Connected Health Cluster Innovation Manager

+372 5858 8392

Kadri Villers

Innovation Manager

+372 52 08 223

Liis Lohur

HealthTech and Connected Health Cluster Project Manager

+372 5680 0244