Digital transformation of healthcare ecosystem

Belgrade, December 09, 2021. – Digital Health Strategy 2022-26 and Action Plan 2022-23 of the Republic of Serbia are now being finalized with the aim of ensuring a healthier future for local citizens. The public-private dialogue is much needed to further advance the digital healthcare transformation. With this in mind, the online round table ‘’Digitalization of healthcare ecosystem – one year later’’ was organized by the Swiss Serbian Chamber of Commerce, together with Roche Serbia, one of the SSCC Founding members, and it was opened by His Excellency Mr Urs Schmid, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia and to Montenegro. He welcomed the round table as another step in trying to understand the implications of digital transformation in healthcare and in discussing how this transformation can be further advanced to the benefit of a more effective and client centered healthcare.

H.E. Schmid also underlined that Switzerland is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative countries of the world with the existence of some 900 healthcare start-ups working on various endeavors such as digital therapeutics, block chain-based data exchange solutions and process digitalization. ‘’Based on the close economic and social ties between our two countries, we stand to gain a lot from cooperation in the digital realm. The Serbian ICT industry and digital transformation of more traditional sectors bear an immense potential. Swiss investors play a leading role in supporting the digitalization of the economy through their investments in innovative solutions, the creation of highly qualified jobs and contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth. ‘’

President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce Majo Mićović and General Manager of the company ‘’Sky Express’’ emphasized that in the mainstream activities that have been following overall digitalization of global healthcare industry, general business and healthcare services, we have advanced to another stage where digital standards, communication and ICT resources are made available, e-government structures proved to be working and efficient, leaving both healthcare industry and citizens to test it, redefine it where necessary and utilize those immanent benefits towards the next generation healthcare digital services. He mentioned that Serbia now generates about 10 percent of its GDP from the ICT sector, now among the top four export sectors, along with steel, cars, and agriculture.

Mr. Mićović also emphasized that according to the Government’s Commission for Protection of Competition, there were over 2,800 firms in Serbia’s ICT tech sector in 2021, employing cca 35,000 people. ‘’Following that stream of development, dozens of Swiss based companies have already established local presence in Serbia, either outsourcing for their global customers or creating a development centre in Serbia. We can suggest and we strongly believe that this is just a start of a very promising and successful economic cooperation between our two countries, and we are looking forward to more and newest developments in this field.’’

Ana Govedarica, CEO Roche Serbia and Montenegro, and SSCC Vice-President stated the following: “The data, which we have obtained today is enormous and can help us improve the treatment significantly. Today, data is collected through so-called Real World Data, which includes data from electronic health records, hospital registries, data that we obtain through various applications… Healthcare Data Management is the key task. If we learn to do it in the right way, we will significantly improve the treatment outcomes and save costs! The next step could be making of more interconnection between local databases and world databases regarding different illnesses and usage of powerful AI tools which can analyse huge amount of data and help doctor to find the most efficient solution for each patient. This approach means more efficient healthcare, but also optimized money spending.”

Mr Dejan Kovačević, Digital Health Advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, has said the following: ‘’Digital Health Strategy 2022-26 and Action Plan 2022-23 that Serbia is now finalizing envisions a healthier future for our citizens, more efficient healthcare and data-driven decision-making, supported by the innovative use of technology. The strategy represents the joint vision and priorities of public, private and non-profit organizations. One of the top priorities is enabling patients to access their health data securely and simplify access to healthcare. Over time, citizens of Serbia will experience many improvements supported by technology and more integrated healthcare.’’

Dr Nick Guldemond, senior researcher at the Leiden Medical (The Netherlands), I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and Roche partner worldwide explained that tools such as ‘The future proofing healthcare index’ can help to understand what are the strength and weaknesses both at a health system level and for specific disease areas. ‘’Also this is helpful for collaboration with other organisations and countries when working together on improvement and innovation. Despite the consequences of COVID19, we worked very effectively together in building an outstanding international project on implementing personalised healthcare in Serbia.’’ 

Prof. Branko Radulović, Full Professor of Economics and Economic Analysis of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade presented the key benefits of digitization in the Serbian healthcare industry, including the automated administration, improved patient-doctor coordination and interaction and safety of medical data. ‘’Depending on the assumptions, there is a potential to switch several millions of regular examinations to telemedicine examinations (provision of health care services using information and communication technologies).’’

Mirko Jokić, Board member of the Serbian Hemophilia Society, emphasized the importance of mobile apps for the patient treatment optimization since it enables better and more frequent communication between the patient and the healthcare center; quick access to therapy and patient’s bleeding data as well as more efficient data collection.