Latvia becomes the 19th EU country to join eHealth cooperation for personalised healthcare

On 12 November Latvia signed the European Declaration on linking genomic databases across borders that aims to improve understanding and prevention of disease and allow for more personalised treatments, in particular for rare diseases, cancer and brain related diseases.

The Declaration is an agreement of cooperation between the countries that want to provide secure and authorised cross-border access to national and regional banks of genetic and other health data, in accordance with all EU data protection rules.The goal is also to keep the EU at the global forefront of personalised medicine, at the same time as fostering scientific output and industrial competitiveness. Latvia is the 19th signatory of the Declaration, which was originally launched on 10 April 2018 during the Digital Day. The other EU Member States that have signed it are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. In April 2018, the Commission put forward an action plan to secure healthcare data while fostering European cooperation.

The interesting point is ironic; At a time of apparent Brexit confusion, the UK, with it’s Genomics England agency – is one of the leaders in genomics understanding and promotion. and three of the key protagonist countries in Europe – Belgium, Germany, France – are not on the list of signatories to the above declaration. 

Don’t you just love it?

Can We Celebrate 70 Years of the NHS?


As increasing numbers of ordinary people move away from this cherished institution – we ask the question – why do they do so?

This is not about private medicine and public services. The UK NHS and its principle guardian of healthcare – free to all – at the point of delivery – is the cornerstone of just about every UK and European belief that healthcare is a public right – not something that you only get if you can afford it.

Fair enough.

The problem is when you put that into practice for the ordinary lives of people like you and I. The principle might be ok but – well, if other places are offering something better, and its within our price range, we are going to choose whatever that something else is.

And so they do.

At the recent Employee Benefit Fair in London just a couple of weeks ago, of the 115 Exhibitors, some 30% were all offering private walk in Doctors facilities.  And the services they were offering were better, than their NHS counterparts, particularly in areas that can be monitored remotely by smart technology on the wrist of all of us. As the provision of healthcare moves away from hospitals into a more community based environment, if for just a few bucks a  month, say you can have your diabetes monitored every day, in real time – or your heart and blood pressure similarly managed – does it matter that you never get to see a real Nurse?  All you want is the Nurse to call you when things look wrong – and for you to be able to drop by as you pass thru the local train station en route to work.

So why do so few NHS Hospitals and CCGs want to adopt similar practices?

The problem is twofold; if we can  solve a specific problem, with  technology, using half the nurses – then we can schedule the remaining nurses somewhere else where there is a greater need. Except that clinical grass roots staff have a fear of change and a fear of losing their job. And Managers have a fear of losing their nurses – and their silo based budgets.  As long as they have lots of people coming through those hospital doors – the money will keep rolling in.

And second – we regularly get emails and responses from NHS senior Managers saying;  “Sure, come by for a conversation, but not for a conversation that means we have to do something”. There is this misplaced belief among so many NHS Managers that as things have always been done this way – then life will continue to be done this way.

Not any more.  

We are seeing already that the public is voting with its feet. Sure, its a small beginning – but its a beginning none the less. As a senior more enlightened NHS Director told me – “we cannot keep trying to squeeze 100 appointments into the time reserved for only 40”.

There will become a time, sooner rather than later, when the public itself will start to wonder why they are paying any money for public healthcare at all. By then of course, it will be too late.

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Charisma. Either you’ve got it. Or you haven’t.

We look at the growth of the Park Annual healthcare forum in Gothenburg and ask – why is it so successful?

It’s a question of how you measure success. There are talking shops, and there are talking shops. For Iris Ohrn, Investment Advisor at Business Region Goteborg, the emphasis is as much on the “shops” (ie the actual business quotient), as it is on the “talking”. She is eager to support all companies interested in the Gothenburg innovation system. Although she can have a chat with anybody she certainly prefers and enjoys discussing concrete business and investment opportunities in Gothenburg – based companies. The chat – is not the end, but the means to an end.

It is a subtle distinction that can easily be lost in the informality of the Park Annual event itself. There are many “Life Science”. Forums out there. The secret sauce of Park Annual is not focusing on trade, investments or scientific research as such. It focuses on gathering all groups ex. entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators, companies and investors in the heart of Göteborg and get them to network and be inspired in a very relax by effective way. Entrepreneurship and innovation are one of word that best describes the event and that could differentiate it from other also good events. Usually start-ups and innovators are the starts of the event.

What Iris says is; “It provides a great forum for debate. You leave the event with a very positive feeling. With that feeling that you are not alone and that is great fun to be part of the Innovation system.”

And it is indeed true – there are indeed similar events. The NJ Pharma Hub; and PACT in Philadelphia come to mind, where both of these have the advantage of zillion times larger population. But that may not be an advantage. Sweden is a small and export dependent country. It is home, so to say, to just 0.13 per cent of the global population. Which means that, in order to succeed, its companies need to be born global and more focussed.

Iris continues: “ Our products compete on the global market from day one as our internal market is very limited, despite our purchase power. We top most lists when we talk about innovation and competitiveness. We do not compete by market size but by the quality of our products. Our formula is collaboration, collaboration at all levels, small and large companies, public and private sector, universities, hospitals and patients. Most of our success relies on our capacity to collaborate. Now, more than ever, cross-sectorial collaboration is our focus. Digitalization and the rapid technological development are disrupting most industries.”

But probably the key missing ingredient is not just the mix of University supporting industry backed by Government It is more the qualification of what constitutes success that we mentioned above. And it is two fold – sure, there are commercial yardsticks, performance indicators. But underlying all of that is the understanding that Park Annual is a healthcare forum. The basic raison d’être is eradicating diseases. Park Annual has its heart in it.

Park Annual is on the 27th Sept 2018 at Sahlgrenska Science Park Sweden.

A Better Way To Get To Hospital…

Here’s a clever idea, sent to us by Susan Lewis on behalf of the Formativ Health  company, the beauty of which is its simplicity. You wonder why nobody else thought of this.

If you’ve got to go to hospital – then you want the simplest way to do it. It is reasonable to assume that you are probably sick.  The one thing you don’t want is the hassle of parking the car. Hospitals have volunteers for this sort of stuff, to get you there. But what if you could just dial a ride, so to say, from someone who is already going? Have a read of this great announcement:

“Formativ Health, a technology-enabled health services company focused on transforming the patient-provider experience, announced today it has entered into an agreement with Lyft, the fastest-growing rideshare company in the U.S.

Formativ, whose technology and services support physician practices, hospitals, and health systems, will work with Lyft to integrate Concierge into its Patient Engagement Platform (PEP). Through this integration, Formativ’s 250+ Patient Engagement Specialists can schedule non-emergency Lyft rides for patients directly through its PEP platform to provide Lyft rides in 40+ States. Lyft rides can be ordered on-demand or in advance, and patients don’t need to be a Lyft user to take advantage of the service.

The PEP, which leverages the Salesforce HealthCloud, is the core of Formativ’s technology offering, enabling improved patient-provider experiences when combined with their team of highly trained Patient Engagement Specialists. Formativ’s PEP solution includes enterprise-wide scheduling functionality that enables improved appointment inventory visibility and features automated waitlist, online self-scheduling and many other key practice management capabilities.

According to a 2017 study by the American Hospital Association, nearly four million patients per year miss out on care, due to lack of available transportation options related to cost or geographic barriers. These missed appointments make it difficult for patients to get the care they need, and this partnership is one way to make it easier for provider organizations to cut that number down.

“For many patients, access to reliable transportation can be the biggest hurdle in getting them to the doctor’s office. Formativ partnered with Lyft to enable our team of patient engagement specialists to book on-demand or scheduled rides for the patients we serve on behalf of our clients, addressing some of the negative social determinants of health, decreasing barriers to care and making life that much easier for patients,” explained David Harvey, chief technology officer at Formativ.

Lyft was founded in June 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. Lyft is the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S. and is available to 95 percent of the US population as well as in Ontario, Canada. Lyft is preferred by drivers and passengers for its reliable and friendly experience, and its commitment to effecting positive change for the future of our cities, as the first rideshare company to offset carbon emissions from all rides globally.

New York City-based Formativ Health is a technology-enabled health services company focused on transforming the patient-provider experience. Their services help health systems, provider groups, and payors respond to the rise of consumerism by combining powerful technology with an empathetic approach to customer service. Formativ helps clients enhance their patients’ experience, adapt to evolving risk-based payment models, improve financial performance, increase practice productivity, and elevate physician satisfaction and patient loyalty. For more information, visit http://www.formativhealth.com or on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180907005060/en/

CARE ON OUR OWN TERMS.

We look at how patients are becoming consumers and are driving the growth of virtual technology in healthcare.

One of the most relevant discussions for the future of UK healthcare, was not taken in any formal setting. My colleague was not visible on my Skype screen, and I was some 500 miles distant, sitting on my sofa, drinking tea.

It is an irony that is not lost on either of us. At a time when the key assumption of the benefit of the HIMSS  2018 Conference, is face to face interaction, my counterpart Kaveh Safavi of Accenture is eloquently discussing the essential benefits of his Presentation on virtual healthcare, that he made just a few hours earlier sitting in Barcelona; and I am nowhere to be found.

“Virtual healthcare” has taken over as the buzzword from the more difficult term “A.I”, which nobody could understand. And it is not before time. If the WHO is saying that by the year 2030, we will have a shortage of some 15 million healthcare professionals – the one thing we don’t need is to carry on putting in place more and more clinics, with longer and longer waiting times, for an ever increasing number of patients, with nursing staff that we do not have. Better option is first enabling our existing resources to work optimally.

We have reached a critical moment where the population (that’s you and I) – are increasingly comfortable using our smartphones, our Apple Watches, our connected meters, etc – to deliver our our health data to responsible health people who can manage this. But our health service providers are standing still in their acceptance that things have to change. And so, if this remote interaction works – and the technology exists to bring health data remotely into the distant screens – why is the rate of traction in Europe and certainly the UK – so slow?

The answer is many and varied, and it comes from not communicating the benefits – and also a myopic fear on the part of our providers, of losing their jobs or reducing their salaries. From experience of automation in the commercial sector, neither of those latter scenarios actually would take place.

So far, virtual healthcare has been limited in its explanation, to automatically registering a patient appointment – to go to a clinic, let’s say. But this misses the point. The real benefit is far deeper than that. If we associate virtual healthcare with long standing conditions, let’s say Diabetes for example – (where remote tech is now starting to get traction) – patients and providers will get the immediate benefit of more rapid diagnosis, more motivated and engaged patients, far less cost per patient in monitoring. And they need never visit a clinic at all. In some clinics, holograms have taken over from even seeing a real person.

In short – virtual healthcare is convenient. It also increases the “quality” of the service provided; Because sure if things are wrong and your data is untoward – only then do you go to your clinic, and your Nurse will have far more time to see you, and your discussion will already be personalised and entirely based on the health data you have already sent, in real time, through the very technology you are already wearing on your wrist. You will not be rushed out of the door.

I take a pause in my dialogue with Kaveh and glance at my Apple Health app on my watch – my heart is beating a bit quicker, apparently. I think I’ll take another cup of tea.

COCIR launch new Healthcare Roadmap in Brussels.

There is a great deal of benefit from being connected with our nearest neighbours and being aware of and part of their healthcare initiatives on a broader scale.  We are pleased to publish the latest announcement.

The Integrated Care Alliance (ICA), of which COCIR is a founding member, has launched today its ‘Multi-Stakeholder Digital Health Roadmap’ in support of Integrated Care. The Roadmap is being launched at the 18th International Conference on Integrated Care in Utrecht hosted by the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC).

The Roadmap follows up on the ICA’s successful Call to Action ‘United Towards Integrated Care’ launched in the European Parliament in June 2016. The ICA partners have worked through the points identified in the Call, recommending measures in four key areas; health policy, new care models, skills and training as well the use of digital care technologies. It also identified the need to build capacity to execute these measures at all levels – European, national and regional. The partners are also inviting those other stakeholder organisations that play critical roles in the integrated care value chain to become part of the initiative.

The publication emphasises the vital role that integrated care will play in reorienting healthcare delivery, creating systems designed to meet the needs and demands posed by an ageing population. At a time when budgetary and human resources are becoming increasingly scarce, an integrated care approach directs resources to where they have the greatest impact. Using the principles of integrated care systems engages citizens, makes provisions for patient education and allows primary and secondary prevention along with early diagnosis and intervention. Digital technologies and services can help ensure appropriate care is readily accessible outside the hospital setting.

Nicole Denjoy, COCIR Secretary General, said; “This Alliance will be key to accelerating the successful transition and scaling-up towards an integrated care mode. The multi-stakeholder approach brings the variety of approaches and insights that we need. It also provides the partners with an ideal platform of communication to share best practice and adds to the existing momentum provided by the ICA’s 2016 Call to Action. As one of the founding members of the ICA, COCIR is committed to making the work of this Alliance successful.”

The ICA is committed to strengthening and expanding integrated, sustainable health and care services across the EU Member States. The Alliance is made up of multi-stakeholder experts dedicated to sharing their experience and expertise while providing direction, advice and guidance for establishing and consolidating integrated care schemes.

By 2021, the Alliance aims to make innovative and interoperable digital care technologies central to healthcare delivery and to harmonise sharing of data plans routine in daily practice. The Alliance’s future work is fully aligned with the objectives of the Digital Single Market and Digital Transformation of Health Care in Europe.

For more information, contact:

Nicole Denjoy
COCIR Secretary General
Tel: +32 (0)2 706 8961
Opens window for sending emaildenjoy@cocir.org

IF A.I. IS SO IMPORTANT… CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IT WILL ACTUALLY DO?

We look at some examples of the  new focus in healthcare and ask; really?

The recent announcement of the upcoming HIMSS Impact 2018| Leading Digital Transformation and Big Data in Medicine – conference in Berlin later this year, coincides with an announcement in the uk from the Government, that it is now investing zillions into “AI”, to combat various troublesome diseases.

In theory,  and indeed in reality, a new focus on a different way of  handling patient information, will save time, not necessarily save money, but enable our services to do lots more. And it comes about because there are just too many people, needing too many services. And as one clinical director told me; ‘we can hardly put a new clinic in the hospital car park..”

But  at a time when most Hospitals are still coming to terms about moving from Windows XP, there are three major stumbling blocks, and it is important to spell these out before we all get too excited.

First – if the UK Gov attempts to roll out this Finance in the same way as it has done for previous bjg deals, let’s say such as COGDE or Scan 4 Safety, etc.. then nothing much new will happen at all. Those hospitals that did take up either of the above, have largely  spent money on things they were already doing – so it just became a way of getting finance but not improvement; or they embark on a lengthy process of milestones that alas could have been done cheaper and faster with existing tech in the private sector. 

The result is that those Hospitals that did not make the cut, so to say, have become confused, and do nothing, as opposed to at least try to do “something”. What we have found is that if the management of a hospital wants to advance its healthcare performance, it will do so, regardless of Gov announcements.

Second – AI is not a Hospital process, but a Community process. This means that the data from a patient does not require said patient to come to a clinic or be seen by anybody in a place called a hospital. The data is patient driven and comes from his/her smartphone, his Apple Watch, her Fitbit, etc – without anybody doing anything much. In other words, AI in health is consumer driven,   and there are already plenty of Apps that harness very specialist health data from each and everyone of us, that can already be viewed by our GP or Hospital. The secret to AI health is by increasing patient engagement.

But finally – we need to understand what all this will do to our actual lives. What AI means, is that our diabetes, our heart, our fitness, can be monitored remotely – and we ourselves will take greater ownership of our lifestyle. 

This means that conventional financial models of where money comes from and for what – have to change. The focus will be empowering the community, and paying hospitals to monitor that – rather than get paid only when we physically make a visit.

Because if this does not happen, then health provision will move to pharmacies, etc, who will provide this monitoring for us – and we will pay them money to do so, because it will be immediate and in real time – instead of waiting to see our local GP or clinic appointment.

Which in turn will distance us from the very organisations we already pay money to, to look after us.

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