The digitalisation of health services greatly strengthened through the pandemic

The Directorate for e-Health in Norway has published its annual report on development trends and trends in the health and care sector. On that occasion, they arranged a webinar on e-health trends on March 10.

Heidi Blengsli Aabel and Cecilie Løken

Cecilie Løken, director of technology at Vestre Viken, and CEO of CheckWare, Heidi Blengsli Aabel, participated in the webinar as speakers on the topic «Digital remote patient monitoring makes everyday life easier».


Cecilie B. Løken says- «It is important that there is a good and close collaboration between technologists and health personnel and between suppliers and health services. In this way, we who operate in the health service industry, can offer more and more innovative solutions faster. We learned how quickly it was possible to achieve this in March 2020. In 14 days, a solution was developed for registration of the employees’ quarantine status.


Here is Heidi's post:


At 4 pm on Thursday 12 March 2020, the corona virus hit Norway at full speed, and the Norwegian prime minister at the time, Erna Solberg, gave one of her most important speeches. Four hours later, there were empty shelves in the grocery stores in Norway.

The next morning, everyone in CheckWare were in their home offices. At the management meeting that day, we decided that:

  • CheckWare will ensure that existing customers are still satisfied and feel that we are working with their best interest in mind. We must be there for them, all the time, all the way.

  • CheckWare should emerged strengthened from the pandemic.

Turnaround


One of the directors in one of the health regions called us on behalf of all the Norwegian health regions.


"Can you help us?", he asked.


"Yes, of course, but how can we help?" we replied.


"I don’t know," he replied. No one in the health services industry knew what the situation entailed, but the contingency plans had been implemented, and CheckWare was to contribute.


Then a manager from Vestre Viken called: - «We need help to get an overview of available health personnel. We need to know who is in quarantine, who has corona, and who can come to work».


CheckWare was already very suitable for this purpose, although this time the issue was self-reporting from healthcare professionals and not from patients.


Thus, we understood that this was the time for us to step up provide our help wherever it was needed.


It was an incredible turnaround. We divided the organization into two parts: One part worked with existing solutions in production, the other part with new solutions intended for covid.

In 14 days, we developed a covid solution together with Vestre Viken, and it was an incredible drive, collaboration, spirit of service and effort at Vestre Viken and among our colleagues from the home offices.


And we just kept going.


We received agreements on standard use of CheckWare with the last three health regions in Norway in 2020. Implementations were completed in record time by the summer of 2021. Several municipalities procured CheckWare and Emestring was initiated by Health Southeast and Health Mid. We also received our first contract in Sweden in June 2021.


Vestre Viken acquired CheckWare for digital remote patient monitoring within the somatic fiels before the epidemic, but now many others also came on board. This gave us a strengthened belief in, and proof of, that what we do is in demand and makes sense to achieve a sustainable health service.


A fundamental change


It actually changed our whole company!


CheckWare has always been a software company that has laid down brick by brick. This has led to us becoming the market leader in Norway within solutions for digital patient participation. We would probably also have been this without a pandemic.


However, digital health services and digital remote patient monitoring undoubtedly had a breakthrough with the pandemic. Finally, the market demanded what CheckWare had believed in for many years!


Before, customers requested CheckWare as a tool for obtaining information from the patient so that the clinician would be more prepared when the patient arrived on time, and thus be able to follow up the effect of the treatment.


This is still in demand, but now customers are much more concerned with finding out if the patient really needs to have an appointment, as well as finding out if the patients to a greater extent can help themselves.


Forward-looking customers have been important to CheckWare


Our customers have been incredibly forward-looking all the way, and together we really gained momentum in several digital health services that are much more sustainable than today's solutions. User-controlled outpatient clinic for epilepsy, Remote treatment of gambling addiction, Digital remote monitoring of patients with COPD, Virtual home hospital for newborn sick children and User-controlled outpatient clinic for IBD to name a few.


CheckWare is a standard off-the-shelf software; a platform for digital patient participation, where customers can establish new health services on their own. Before Christmas, we learned that one of the health trusts had used CheckWare in 40 new areas within the somatic area in 2021. And we also just heard that another customer had created a post covid solution, without CheckWare needing to be involved at all.


Applied the principles of a sharing economy


Health services that are developed in one place can easily be used by other customers. The main idea with CheckWare is that if a customer has developed a health service, it should be easy for others to use the same service. It should also be easy to share the costs of developing and maintaining the services.


The evidence that digital health services are good for patients, good for health professionals and good for the health economy is constantly growing. It will simply be a health service where more people can get good health care.

13 times more patients with epilepsy can be followed up than before. With the help of online treatment programs, 3-5 times more patients with the same quality can be treated, without increasing the use of resources. Then it almost goes without saying that this makes sense.

Now, financial subsidies have also been introduced to offer digital solutions in several areas, and this helps a lot and contributes to more people wanting to use CheckWare as a solution for digital patient participation.


Digital health services benefit the entire health sector and the health technology industry, and not least it is important for patients.


Digital health services with great growth potential


The report E-health trends: Development trends 2022, which the Directorate for e-Health presented on 10 March, reaffirms that digitalisation offers great opportunities for developing sustainable health and care services.


What is new is that the report contains references to the business community, such as CheckWare, and that the Government wants innovative e-health solutions, in addition to contributing to a better health and care service, to also help create a domestic market for Norwegian suppliers.


This means that both CheckWare and other Norwegian health technology companies can develop robust companies and create an export industry that benefits Norway.

Health services will change in the coming years, and we believe in the power of patients being able to take more responsibility for their own health.


The areas for digitisation of health services have a very large growth potential, both nationally and internationally. Although more than 430,000 patients have used CheckWare and although the increase in use was over 40% in 2021, the potential is infinitely greater.


Norway needs international success stories


Together we must create internationally successful companies. Norway needs international success stories. This is absolutely necessary, as Norway as a market on its own is too small to create the best and most competitive solutions in the future.

Nor does it create the export revenues and jobs on which we are completely dependent.


And when we go out into the world, the UN's third sustainability goal must be our target:

"Ensuring good health and quality of life for all"