The HIVdigital competition with its €100,000 prize pool launched a year ago and has resulted in two innovative digital solutions in the field of HIV. The decision support platform Diagnostic Match is a tool for general practitioners that helps to detect people needing HIV testing in mere seconds. The hINF mobile application facilitates communication between HIV-positive patients and their attending physicians and helps to save time by replacing nearly half of the visits with digital visits.
According to Kitty Kubo, the organiser of the competition and the innovation lead of the health technology cluster Connected Health, the results of the HIVdigital competition are excellent. “Both solutions are driven by actual problems experienced by doctors and patients, and they were co-created by them. One of the solutions is aimed at a better detection of HIV-infected people, and the other engages in better organisation of treatment of HIV-positive patients. Without the HIVdigital competition, those solutions would not exist,” she commented. Kubo says that in addition to particular digital solutions, an extra value is derived from the innovative model for boosting needs-based innovation in healthcare, tested with the HIVdigital competition.
The digital solution Digital Match, originally conceptualized by Dr. Diana Ingerainen, the president of the Estonian Society of Family Doctors, is a tool for smart screening of HIV to be used by general practitioners. With the help of the prize money of HIVdigital and the mentors of Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol, it has taken nine months for a team of medical and IT experts to create a primary product out of the idea. Algorithms for supporting decision-making regarding HIV indicator diseases have been developed and their functioning has been tested in four centres of general practitioners. There is also technical readiness to make the application available to 85% of general practitioners in Estonia. “In cooperation with medical experts, we have created a digital solution that supports the quicker detection of currently hiding HIV-positive patients in primary care and getting them tested,” said Grete Kikas, Manager of Diagnostic Match, the startup company developing the solution. She added: “This solution is based on algorithms that analyse the patients’ health data and send a message to the general practitioner’s desktop if a person has been diagnosed with an indicator disease that implies the possibility of HIV. In the future, we would like to extend the logic behind these algorithms to other areas in medicine, as well as make them available for use by patients themselves so that they can take control of their own health.”
The hINF digital solution was created at the initiative of and in close cooperation with health professionals working with HIV-positive patients at the Infectious Diseases Clinic of West Tallinn Central Hospital. Paula Kink, the CEO of the startup company hINF, said: “The purpose of this solution is to make the interaction between the doctor and the patient more convenient and save time for both of them. According to the user survey, 86% of HIV-positive patients consider regular visits to the clinic to be time-consuming and inconvenient, since each visit takes a patient an average of three hours of their working time.” She continued to describe the nature of the application: “The hINF solution provides a secure application for attending digital visits; for the patient, it means that they do not need to actually go to the clinic in order to get analysis results or in case of questions. During a digital visit, the doctor is able to submit the necessary information to the patient using a mobile application.”
The competition HIVdigital was launched in the summer of 2016 by the Estonian health technology cluster Connected Health and GlaxoSmithKline Eesti OÜ (GSK) in order to find innovative digital solutions to the problems in the field of HIV that can be used in Estonia and exported to foreign markets. This innovation competition with its novel design was the first of its kind in the Estonian medical system. As far as the organisers are concerned, it is unique in the world, at least in the field of HIV. The competition consisted of three stages covering the entire innovation process from identifying needs to launching ready solutions on the market, and various parties were included in the process. Fourteen concepts were submitted to the competition. With the help of the prize fund of €100,000 and mentors from Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol, two of them reached the goal of becoming a usable solution.
According to Sirje Kõuts, a representative of GSK Estonia, the competition is a good example of how a pharmaceutical company can contribute to society innovatively. “The HIVdigital project has boosted the creation of patient-centered solutions in the field of HIV with mutual cooperation of all stakeholders. The development and enthusiasm of the teams gives me hope that these developed and applied solutions have a potential to be taken into use in Estonia and abroad,” Kõuts said.
“According to a worldwide trend, global pharmaceutical companies tend to go beyond the pill and look at the environment more broadly. This also means that there is increased interest in contributing to digital solutions. In Estonia, GSK is a trendsetter, and we hope that the positive experience of HIVdigital encourages others to follow the trend,” Kubo said.
The cooperation partners of the competition are the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Institute of Health Development, the Infectious Diseases Clinic of West Tallinn Central Hospital, the Linda Clinic and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The competition was financed by ViiV Healthcare via the global Positive Partnerships Program. Further information about the competition and the solutions is available at http://www.hivdigital.ee/.