Hospitals and Pharmaceutical Companies Contribute to Patient-Centered Digital Solutions

 Connected Health Cluster, led by Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol, brings together health-related stakeholders in Estonia with the aim to create new patient-oriented solutions. Several new companies have already been established, working towards making the life of a patient easier. Connected Health collaborates with health care providers to facilitate innovation based on the needs of medical professionals. Currently, three new solutions are under development.  

„Our first successful initiative was a year-long program focusing on HIV. Through active collaboration between Connected Health, Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline and HIV clinics, two new companies were founded. Diagnostic Match helps doctors identify patients that have been infected, so that the patients would receive treatment as early as possible, live a full life, and avoid infecting others. hINF makes the life of a patient more convenient by offering a chance to replace some visits to the doctor with digital visits, conducted as conversations over the internet,“ describes Külle Tärnov, Manager of the Connected Health Cluster at Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol.

„Our custom-designed innovation programs aim to help large companies create new solutions, and to become nimble and flexible like startups. In addition to GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer, a recent addition to Connected Health is Novartis, and an innovation program focusing on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has been launched,“ explains Tärnov.

Jürgen Kukk, the Country Manager of Novartis in Estonia states that cooperation with the cluster helps the company to develop future-oriented services that bring more benefit to the patients. „Our goal is to make the patient the centre of our development activities, and to provide a consistent overview of the patient to the whole healthcare team. In addition, we gradually want to increase the role of the patient in managing their own health, and in the process of health care services,“ says Kukk.

According to Tärnov the launch of the Connected Health Innovation Clinics at the beginning of 2017 has helped increase cooperation with Estonian health care providers. „We bring together medical professionals, developers, designers and startups, so that great ideas would turn into real and useful solutions. During these events the doctors describe how they have implemented innovative ideas driven by practical needs, and medical professionals share their experiences in the world of health startups and technology entrepreneurship.“

The Cluster Manager is convinced that new products and services will improve the health of Estonians, and that there is also international potential. She asserts that most successful digital health companies always include a medical professional in their team, so that the problems that are addressed are truly real.

Most Estonian hospitals are part of the Connected Health Cluster, including North Estonia Medical Centre and Tartu University Clinic, as well as private providers such as Medicum. North Estonia Medical Centre is already developing three new solutions in cooperation with startups. „To ensure there will be more such collaborative initiatives, the Estonian Junior Doctors Association, the Estonian Association of Family Physicians, and the Estonian Patient Advocacy Association are also involved in the Cluster’s activities.

28 health startups and 18 health IT companies belong to the Connected Health Cluster.