TALLINN - Functional digital solutions must be designed in cooperation between health care professionals, developers and the state, Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Riina Sikkut said.
In her opening remarks at the conference focusing on digitization in family medicine, Sikkut said that digital solutions in health care should stem from the needs posed by day-to-day work activities and grant doctors more time to communicate with their patients, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs said. In order for digital solutions to be of help to doctors and nurses, health care professionals, developers and the state need to cooperate, Sikkut said.
The time a doctor has with a patient is a limited and valuable resource, which has to be used effectively, Sikkut added.
"Thus, doctors, nurses and their teams need digital solutions, which should help make the best possible use of their time to ensure their patients are healthier and happier," she said. "Health care professionals need functional digital solutions to help assess risks and prevent diseases, make decisions regarding treatment and ensure the consistency thereof. In order for digital solutions to actually be of help to doctors and nurses, cooperation between health care professionals, developers and the state is essential," the minister said.
Sikkut pointed out as a good example the creation of a general medicine IT development council made up of general practitioners, nurses, software developers and representatives of the state. The council was set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs at the start of January. The purpose of it is to determine the requirements general practitioners and nurses expect for a piece of software to meet if they are to use it in their day-to-day work as well as to set development priorities in cooperation with all relevant parties and the state, she said.
The minister said that patients' expectations should also be taken into consideration when developing new digital solutions.
"People are used to managing their whole lives on their smartphones -- health should not be an exception here," Sikkut added.
The conference on digitization focuses on IT solutions in the health sphere and seeks to determine how to ensure the best possible medical results in a situation where resources are getting increasingly sparse.