EIT Health Investigates Innovation In the Latvian Healthcare Ecosystem
Recently, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Health Community (EIT Health), represented in Latvia by Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU), began investigating the status of innovation in the Latvian healthcare ecosystem. One of the goals was to gain an understanding of the experience of advanced-stage start-ups in developing healthcare solutions, with a particular focus on projects that require the cooperation between start-ups and Latvian healthcare institutions.
After receiving the preliminary results, the EIT Health Hub in Latvia invited more than 10 partners to an online roundtable discussion. These partners included start-ups and representatives from their supporting associations. The discussion revolved around the most common challenges faced by Latvian start-ups, such as the complexity of the healthcare industry, the at times insufficient support from key stakeholders, incomplete knowledge about certain areas of operating a start-up, and the lack of a coordinating institutions in Latvia that cover the entire ecosystem.
‘RSU’s collaboration with EIT Health is part of the Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) framework that facilitates innovation in European regions classified as moderate innovators. Latvia is one of those regions. EIT Health provides key actors in the Latvian healthcare ecosystem with education, funding, mentoring and networking programmes. This investigation was conducted to better understand the needs of the Latvian healthcare ecosystem and to ensure that EIT Health meets those needs,’ explains Baiba Pētersone, Director of the International Department at RSU.
‘The opinion that technological start-ups and healthcare exist in two separate worlds is still prevalent. But this is not the case. Patients’ needs are rapidly changing. They evaluate medical services critically and set new criteria for those services – these services need to be fast, accessible and adjusted to their needs,’ says Marina Petrakova, representative of VREACH and Riga TechGirls and the moderator of the discussion, assessing the role of the start-ups in the healthcare ecosystem.
‘Healthcare specialists have also changed their approach to how medical services are delivered. New healthcare models stress the importance of teamwork and coordinating patient care, effective measurement of patient outcomes, clear and transparent communication and possibilities for patients to monitor their own condition,’ continues Petrakova. ‘I have listed only a small number of areas that could be improved by start-ups and technological innovations. Monitoring a patient’s condition, or ensuring the best treatment options are not just healthcare issues; often they involve IT and innovation as well.’