Digitalising health and welfare in Scandinavia

With large public health systems, ageing populations and greater expectations than ever, Scandinavian countries are actively searching for ways to use digital technologies to deliver even better services to all.

Seniors are healthier and live longer than ever. Breakthroughs in medicine and technology help extend lives and fight diseases that used to immobilise or confine people to nursing homes or hospitals. At the same time, advances in ICT make it possible to deliver higher quality healthcare at lower cost, helping to stretch funding to help more people get better and earlier treatment.

In Scandinavia, where healthcare is largely delivered via public health systems financed by welfare states, the introduction of digital technologies in the health sector is a significant opportunity to deliver more and better care for less – and a means to reduce inequalities. Telenor in Norway and other Telenor Group companies active in the Internet of Things (IoT) space are developing solutions to help accelerate the digitalization of health and welfare in Scandinavia and beyond.

Healthcare represents 10,5% (NOK 326 billion in 2016) of the Norwegian national budget and is the country’s largest industry with 350,000 employees. Only 23 % of 140,000 employees in hospitals, primarily administrative staff, use mobile phones as a work tool. To help connect and digitalize the sector, Telenor is focussing on three areas: Mobile Workflow, Remote Patient Monitoring and Smart hospital buildings.

Demo of mobile patient records by Naeem Zahid, Telenor’s own surgeon who works on e-health initiatives for Telenor Norway (far left), to (from right to left) Tor Arne Viksjø, CEO of DIPS, Paul Martin Strand, CEO of Nordland Hospital and Sigve Brekke, Telenor Group CEO.

Mobile workflow

Making critical patient information accessible on mobile devices in hospitals

While hospitals have introduced electronic health records and patient administration systems, many of these systems remain confined to stationary terminals. This leaves medical staff running between patients’ beds and dedicated PCs to search records, check medical results, or to review patient treatment plans. Together with DIPS, the e-health software company that serves 80% of Norwegian hospitals with electronic health records, Telenor is helping bring this information to health workers’ mobile phones. This will increase efficiency and help focus efforts on treatment and follow-up.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Extending the impact of traditional safety alarms through immediacy and involvement

Working closely with more than 150 Norwegian municipalities, Telenor is already the country’s leading provider of digital safety alarms and sensors used by seniors and patients who need the extra safety of being able to easily call for help.  Tryggi is an app for the next of kin of patients with a digital safety alarm. The app checks whether the equipment is connected and gives a notification to a family member or neighbour if the alarm has been activated. Tryggi provides increased safety and more freedom for both users and next of kin.

Read more about Tryggi (in Norwegian)

Enabling patients with non-communicable diseases to avoid travelling for treatment

Patients with chronic diseases are in need of frequent contact with hospitals, and many are required to visit their hospital regularly for treatment – often in addition to an already extensive regimen of logging blood pressure, weight and other vital measurements, and keeping track of medications used or alarms logged in their home equipment. One example is patients with kidney failure receiving dialysis at home, but other chronic diseases affecting lungs, the heart, or diabetes have similar characteristics. These cases represent a significant opportunity for digitalisation, where data can be recorded and transmitted automatically to the hospital. Using a mobile app setup with weight and blood pressure, dialysis patients in Nordland county in Norway can now record their vital data and share them immediately with the hospital. The solution gives a better experience for patients, better overview for hospitals and reduces the risk of human error in the registration process.

Read more about distance treatment

Helping seniors stay at home for longer with smart home solutions

The development of smart home solutions represents a significant opportunity not only for tech-savvy families and geeks: it also means that relatively healthy seniors can continue active and independent lives in the comfort of their own home, knowing that the house remains safe and cared for by smart IoT solutions. When lights, locks and temperatures are controlled digitally and can be activated for instance by voice control, smart home solutions become tools of empowerment.

Smart hospital buildings

Telenor is the main telephony provider for all Norwegian hospitals, and works with partners in the IoT and smart building sectors to make the running of hospital buildings smarter, safer and more sustainable. At present, smart building projects are piloted in regular office buildings in Norway. Using big data and analytics to accelerate health

Supporting healthcare professionals in predicting and diagnosing disease using big data

Mobile networks contain vast amounts of information. With sufficient anonymisation, this data can be turned into movement patterns and – combined with other data sources – provide powerful prediction models for disease spread and outbreak. Telenor has piloted such studies with local authorities and academic partners, such as Harvard University, in a study on the spread of dengue fever in Pakistan. A similar study is under way in Thailand, Bangladesh and Myanmar on multi-resistant malaria. Further applications of our mobility analytics platform are being explored.

Read more about big data for social good