For the first time in the Baltic states a digital therapeutics has received a reimbursement code. It is assigned by the National Health Service in Latvia. It means that in the future the costs of using this therapy can be covered by the state.
-This digital therapeutics is the rehabilitation programme for stroke victims and created by Latvian start-up, Vigo Health.
- The start-up Vigo Health has developed with the support of the EIT Health.
The digital rehabilitation programme Vigo, created by Latvian start-up Vigo Health, which helps patients after a stroke in recovery process, has become the first digital therapeutics in the Baltic states that the state will be able to reimburse. The Vigo app is included in the Latvian National Health Service's manipulation list and has been assigned a reimbursement code. It means that in the future the costs of the therapy for patients can be covered by the state.
Vigo is a digital rehabilitation programme for stroke victims. It is available in the comfort of their own home to anyone with a tablet and it is suitable for users with no technological knowledge. The rehabilitation guide, developed in collaboration with the Latvian National Rehabilitation Center Vaivari, helps people to recover faster and more efficiently from a stroke by providing therapeutic guidance, practical assistance and tools based on cognitive behavioural therapy, in a tablet interface.
“This is a step forward in the development of digital therapy in Latvia and in the whole Baltics. Even though different digital therapeutic solutions are used in patient treatment in the Baltic states, currently, their costs for patients are not covered by the state. However, state support for using these solutions would significantly widen the opportunities for patients to use them for a more effective recovery and rehabilitation process,” says the co-founder of Vigo Health, Kristaps Krafte.
“As soon as the state will decide to cover the costs of this digital therapeutics from the state budget, hospitals, insurance companies and other health institutions will be able to offer it to stroke victims in Latvia without a fee”.
The start-up has been developed with the support of EIT Health
The Latvian start-up Vigo Health was a semi-finalist of the 2019 EIT Health InnoStars Awards. The company received complex support from the EIT Health starting from education in the EIT Health labelled programme MSc Innovation in Health Care at Copenhagen Business School, through advanced business training and access to the EIT Health network and funds thanks to the InnoStars Awards.
“EIT Health programmes – InnoStars Awards and EIT Health RIS - have become a genuine pillar of innovation in healthcare. I am delighted about Vigo success and that EIT Health programmes could help to develop it. There is a big room for development of digital solutions and AI in healthcare, but we see the results of tremendous work of our partners, EIT Health Hubs – Riga Stradins University in Latvia-, as well as a range of innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and healthcare professionals to improve the patients’ life in Europe. And it is very welcome that national governments are also taking steps to make these solutions more accessible to the people,” says Tamas Bekasi, RIS Business Creation Manager at EIT Health InnoStars.
He emphasizes: “There are a lot of talents in Latvia and the Baltics that have skills to create and develop healthcare innovations. InnoStars Awards provides start-ups with funds to further validate their health solutions, education on how to create a business plan and a chance to talk with investors and connect with expert mentors in other European regions that can share their network and experience.”
Digital solutions – important for accessibility and quality of health services
Kristaps Krafte acknowledges that “in the situation of insufficient medical personnel in Latvia and elsewhere in Europe, different digital and artificial intelligence solutions are very important - both for the quality and the accessibility of health services for the population”.
Stroke affects 17 million people worldwide each year and it is a leading cause of adult disability. Survivors face significant physical challenges including impaired movement, vision and speech, as well as psychological challenges, such as depression and anxiety. In Latvia, every year at least 8,000 stroke patients are admitted to hospitals.
Krsitaps Krafte explains that at the moment stroke patients mostly have access to rehabilitation programmes of 2 to 3 weeks in rehabilitation centres, but afterwards the recovery process lies fully on the patients’ and their relatives shoulders. It is a difficult time with many physical and psychological challenges. The Vigo programme is like a guide, which helps the patient and the family members to continue the rehabilitation at home. Please find out more about Vigo and its development in a video interview with Kristaps Krafte.
About EIT Health
EIT Health is one of the biggest European public-private partnerships in the field of healthcare innovation. Comprised of approximately 150 Partners, EIT Health is a unique European network of top companies, universities, research, and development centres, as well as hospitals and institutes. EIT Health’s role is to build an ecosystem that enables the development of healthcare for the future, so that European citizens can live longer and healthier lives. EIT Health upgrades the skills of healthcare professionals throughout Europe, investing in Europe’s best talents, and facilitates the commercialization of innovative health products/solutions within the EU. It is one of the largest publicly funded health initiatives and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of European Union. For more information visit: www.eithealth.eu.
About EIT Health InnoStars
The InnoStars cluster is one of the seven geographical areas of EIT Health. It covers half of Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Italy, and Portugal, as well as additional regions included in the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme – the Baltic States, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Greece, and Romania. This is a group of countries qualified by the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) as moderate innovators. InnoStars is focused on promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and education in the domain of healthcare, healthy living and active ageing in the region and closing the gap between regions that are leaders in innovation and those regions which are progressing.
About EIT Regional Innovation Scheme Programme (EIT RIS)
The EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was created by the European Institute of innovation and Technology (EIT) to close the gap between regions that are leaders in innovation and those regions which are progressing. The programme is implemented with the involvement of local Hubs. In the field of healthcare, the programme has been developing since 2016, and it is coordinated by EIT Health InnoStars. The programme incorporates 13 EIT Health Hubs located in 12 countries across Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. These Hubs serve as access points to a pan-European network of the best universities, companies, and their projects. The programme aims to incubate the regions where it operates, discovering their unique innovation assets and to engage local innovators to participate in pan-European programmes and competitions.