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DIGITAL HEALTH TRENDS – REPORT FROM VITALIS 2022

May 31, 2022

Vitalis is the leading conference and trade fair on eHealth and the future of healthcare in the Nordics. Representatives from municipalities, regions, private care providers, authorities, academia, and industry meet to discuss future challenges and solutions within healthcare.


Opticom was attending this year´s event in Gothenburg and took the opportunity to ask Maria Falconer (Business Development @ Dynamic Code AB), Wilhem Gatenbeck (Digital Innovation Lead @ Roche) and Denise Luxenburg Stuifbergen (VD @ Find Out Diagnostics) their views on the biggest trends and challenges within digital health.

But first, what is eHealth or Digital Health? WHO (World Health Organization) defines eHealth as ‘the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research.’ In 2005 the World Health Assembly urged Member States to ‘create a consistent eHealth vision in line with a country’s health priorities and resources, since then more than 120 Member States have developed such strategies and policies.


So, what are the biggest trends in Swedish eHealth?


Swedish healthcare can be at the forefront

The trend is clear and revolves around self-monitoring with a focus on increased patient involvement. The pandemic has contributed to an acceleration in the development of digitalisation, and it is obvious that ‘the regions are more open to test and to implement new solutions in healthcare’ comments Maria Falconer. Moreover, ‘the power of innovation in Sweden’ as Denise Luxenburg Stuifbergen emphasizes ‘is greater than ever, which paves the way for healthcare to be at the forefront’. But nothing would happen without collaboration and as Wilhem Gatenbeck says, “I think I see a trend here at Vitalis that more players are starting to come together to offer the regions a broader solution.”


But challenges are paving the road

So, there is a strong drive to further develop digital health in Sweden and a good ground to work from. In 2021, Sweden ranked number 3 (out of 64 countries) according to the IMD World Digital Competitiveness ranking. But some challenges are paving the road and moving forward there will be a need for even more collaboration between stakeholders within and across regions but also a standardization – while keeping the patient in focus.


Denise Luxenburg Stuifbergen finds it challenging that ‘the patient does not always come into focus and discussions are rather based on the current organization, available finances and existing systems. While Maria Falconer emphasizes that ‘Healthcare must have a digital backbone to which different solutions can be integrated to achieve maximum benefit.’ And today there are numerous innovative solutions and technologies available, and more to be developed which is not necessarily to the benefit of all.


There are gaps between the offering and what the healthcare wants and can prioritize, as Wilhem Gatenbeck comments ‘there is also a trend for everyone to develop their own platforms, which will be unsustainable in the future, where I see that there will need to be fewer platforms but which more people can integrate into.’


And this may be the greatest challenge to come – the standardization of digital health and the question remains as to who can achieve such an ambitious task?


Positive energy from this year's Vitalis?

Vitalis is also a platform for skills development, exchange of experience and inspiration and we ask our interviewees what they bring with them from this year's Vitalis. Overall, a lot of positivity and confidence into the future! Maria Falconer is thrilled to see that “There are many fantastic and visionary companies in place here, the conditions for digitization exist, challenges are to implement and scale up solutions in an effective way in healthcare”, while Wilhem Gatenbeck can see clearly how “the regions have become better and faster at adopting new solutions through collaboration and partnerships.” Just as Denise Luxenburg Stuifbergen, he is happy to see “that the patient was in many cases a driving force when it comes to digitalisation.”


At Opticom, we are also positive about the future of digital health, and we aim at supporting our clients by gaining better understanding of the market and help them transforming insights into concrete business decisions. Do not hesitate to contact us should you want to learn more about how we can help you in the transition to digital health with the patient in focus.