Digitalisation is radically changing the healthcare industry and shaking up long-established business models.
“We want to cooperate with companies that are disrupting and challenging the present status quo to help transform and change our patients’ lives,” explains Pfizer’s Digital Innovation Lead Klaudia Eriksson. “We are looking for digital solutions that can improve access to care and treatment results for patients all over the world.”
Thus it should come as no surprise that Stockholm is home to one of a select number of Pfizer Healthcare Hubs, an initiative the company launched in 2017 to support established startups and accelerate digital innovation in healthcare.
“The Stockholm Healthcare Hub is part of a global network of digital innovation hubs with dedicated resources to identify, interact, and support startups", says Eriksson. “We see Sweden as a good test market due to the high level of digitalisation in general, but within the healthcare sector particularly.”
Digital health startups in Sweden are developing technologies that have the potential to transform the future of medicine, and Pfizer wants to be a part of that “digital revolution”.
“We can help startups test a solution, develop a product, and give them access to Pfizer’s global network, resources, and internal expertise,” she explains.
Sweden’s success as a digital health innovator stems from several factors, according to Eriksson, including strong engineering education programmes that create “strong ecosystem of highly qualified and creative individuals”. Sweden can also draw on a strong heritage of successful pharmaceutical companies such as Pharmacia, Astra Zeneca, Orexo, and Meda, which together have had a “big impact” on the development of digital health in Sweden.
She adds that digitally-savvy Swedes are quick to pick up new technology, so it can be speedily improved and scaled up to launch in other markets.People are not afraid to try new technology. The high digital maturity and openness for innovation is one of the aspects that makes Sweden an interesting and dynamic market for digital health innovations.
LEADING THE EHEALTH REVOLUTION
Digitalisation is transforming health and social care, and tech-savvy Sweden is spearheading the global phenomenon.
The Swedish government has claimed that by 2025, Sweden will be the best in the world at using the opportunities created by digitalisation for healthcare services. And those opportunities are broad and many.
INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
eHealth and its subset mHealth (mobile health) are shaping the healthcare landscape, and offering innovative solutions for future social services and medical care. Darja Isaksson, who is a member of the Swedish government’s Innovation Council, explains that eHealth is already impacting the healthcare system in many ways.
“Digitalisation makes it possible to achieve better outcomes because you can personalise anything from medicine to treatment,” she says. “You can also use data to spot patterns so there can be more proactive intervention, for example finding the people who are most likely to become the most expensive to care for.”
She mentions Swedish innovation company Aifloo, which has developed an eHealth system to improve the lives of elderly people in need of care based on medical artificial intelligence.
Crucially, she adds, digitalisation puts control of treatment and medication into the patient’s hands:
“The innovations enable people to take more responsibility themselves. It gives us more power over our own health, makes us less dependent on others, and provides the information we need to actively stay healthy.”
She explains that it also has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by billions, and relieve strain on healthcare systems that are already at breaking point:
“The whole industry is under a lot of pressure because people are living longer and previously deadly diseases are now chronic. eHealth is what we need to be able to continue providing high-quality and better health outcomes.”
The increasing popularity of medical apps, like Sweden’s Doktor24 which offers online doctor’s consultations, are also reducing unnecessary contact time.
“To diagnose certain symptoms doesn’t require a physical exam, rather a structured interview. You can increase the quality of the interview because machines don’t forget to ask questions, as well as reducing diagnosis time from thirty minutes to two.”
It helps, Isaksson adds, that Swedes are the perfect market to test new digital solutions.
“Swedes have a very positive view of using data for health and innovation. We are a highly digitalised population that is prone to jump on trends collectively, all ten million of us!”, Isaksson says.
In terms of innovation, Isaksson notes that SciLifeLab, Sweden’s national center for molecular biosciences, is at the forefront of advancing technology that has made human whole genome sequencing possible in large scale.
“I know other countries are wrapping up efforts to do similar things and they are spending a lot of money. In Sweden, we’ve already done it and we didn’t spend a lot. So there’s a lot of valuable insight and knowledge here”, she concludes.Swedes have a very positive view of using data for health and innovation. We are a highly digitalised population that is prone to jump on trends collectively, all ten million of us!
Source: This article was originally published in the Advantage Sweden Magazine.