Medical professionals and technology companies will be developing solutions for detection and treatment of a severe lung disease

The COPD in FOCUS innovation fund will support testing of three innovative digital health solutions with 39,000 euros. The specialists see potential in the ideas proposed for improvement of diagnosing and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. The projects will be co-created by specialists on COPD and digital health start-up companies.

The “Smart COPD screening and primary level SPG” project was allocated 18,000 euros. The aim of the project is identification of the group at the risk of COPD at primary level based on data analysis and a questionnaire, and using spirography for early diagnosing. The project partners include the Association of Estonian Family Physicians, the Estonian Respiratory Society, the Järveotsa Family Medical Center, the Pulmonology Centre of the North Estonia Medical Centre, and the technology companies Dermtest and Diagnostic Match.

In the course of the “My COPD” project, which was allocated 11,000 euros, a home monitoring model for patients with severe COPD will be tested with an aim to prevent exacerbation of the disease and hospitalization. An online portal will also be developed, which will assist the patients in coping with the disease independently. The project will be implemented by the Estonian Respiratory Society, the Lung Clinic of Tartu University Hospital, and by the technology companies Quretec and Cognuse.

The “Breathe and move” project received 10,000 euros for testing a remote service application, which supports treatment of a COPD patient by optimal training and education, such as illustrative self-help exercises and information materials. The application also provides a communication channel between the medical team and the patient. The participants in the project include the Estonian Respiratory Society, the Lung Clinic of Tartu University Hospital, Põlva Hospital, the North Estonia Medical Centre Rehabilitation Clinic, and the technology companies MotionChart and Quretec.

The decision was made by jury of the COPD in FOCUS innovation fund based on the applications received, assessments provided by associations and unions of medical professionals and the patients, and presentations of the projects. The jury included experts in the fields of the health care system and health care technology: Külle Tärnov from the Connected Health cluster; Agris Peedu from the North Estonia Medical Centre; family physician Eero Merilind; Saara Sadrak from the Estonian Junior Doctors’ Association; Külli Friedemann from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund; Madis Tiik from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

The teams will have 3 months for implementation of the projects (prototyping and testing of the solution). In February 2018, a demo day will be organized for presenting the results and sharing the experience.

COPD in FOCUS is an initiative, which brings together the key stakeholders involved with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in order to work together towards innovative solutions on how to find and treat the people with COPD more efficiently. The initiative has been joined by the Estonian Respiratory Society, the Association of Estonian Family Physicians, the Estonian Respiratory Nurses Association, the Estonian Nurses Association, the Lung Clinic of Tartu University Hospital, the Pulmonology Centre of the North Estonia Medical Centre, the Estonian Association of Physiotherapists, and the Estonian Patients Advocacy Association. The state is represented by specialists of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, and the National Institute for Health Development.

The parties are brought together and technology companies are involved in the projects by the Estonian healthtech cluster Connected Health led by the Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol. The initiative is supported by the pharmaceutical companies GSK Estonia and Boehringer Ingelheim Estonia with Novartis Estonia also taking part. All pharmaceutical and technology companies, which are interested in development of the field of COPD, are welcome to join and support the initiative.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a widespread disease: according to estimations, there are 90,000 people with the disease residing in Estonia. Only 10-15% are aware of their disease and receive treatment. COPD is a progressing disease with diagnosing in a late stage and deficient treatment resulting rapid deterioration of the patient’s quality of life. Based on disability-adjusted life years, COPD ranks 1st among Estonian men and 2nd among the women.