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A clever shortcut to useful innovations in healthcare

A new innovative model allows health organisations across Europe to access new technologies through collaboration with IT companies. Some 22 solutions improving healthcare staff and patients’ daily lives have been developed using this model by the EU-funded inDemand project. And more will come soon, promising an even bigger boost in the drive to provide citizens with high-quality healthcare.

© sasun Bughdaryan #291080348, source: 2021

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Public services such as the healthcare sector constantly face new challenges and, with these, the need for innovative solutions. Say you’re a nurse providing prenatal guidance to future mothers in the context of COVID-19. How do you ensure that they get all the information they need as hospitals near breaking point? Similarly, how can healthcare professionals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases send seemingly recovered patients home, while keeping track of their respiratory rate remotely?

In both scenarios, potential innovations need to come fast. Usual go-to solutions such as Pre-Commercial Procurements and Public Procurement of Innovation would be like killing a fly with a sledgehammer: They’re useful for very large projects but don’t cover all types of procurer needs, especially not low-budget ones. Smaller companies could help, but they usually have only limited contact with public entities and do not know enough about their needs to risk investment.

Enter inDemand, which proposes co-creation as a means for the private sector to quickly meet public entities’ needs. “By applying inDemand’s new model, policymakers can help hospitals and company managers mutually understand available opportunities for a small budget. Now, small-scale innovation procurements finally have a model of their own,” says Myriam Martin, coordinator of inDemand on behalf of Ticbiomed.

Concretely, inDemand creates a win-win process in which healthcare organisations and IT companies collaborate closely to develop new, innovative digital solutions. The companies get privileged access to end users and get to fully understand their problems and needs. Meanwhile, healthcare personnel can actively participate in a development and co-creation process that will eventually make their daily work easier while improving patient care and services.

“There are three main benefits,” Martin explains. “Firstly, a demand-driven co-creation process ensures shorter development time between problem definition and solution adoption. Then, this raises healthcare organisation staff’s awareness of the benefits of digital health solutions. Finally, this contributes to accelerating the digitalisation of healthcare organisations.”

From theory, straight to practice

The new process was extensively tested in three pilot regions – Murcia in Spain, Paris in France and Oulu in Finland – and implemented in another 12 regions that have joined the inDemand community.

The project has already led to concrete achievements which resulted in 22 innovative solutions, with two noteworthy cases regarding pregnant women and patients needing respiratory monitoring. Buddy Healthcare is a mobile app that provides pregnant women and new mothers with important information related to breastfeeding while being able to send questions and images to healthcare professionals. Meanwhile, the NE Device SW can monitor patients’ respiratory rate and pulse remotely. Clinicians, who can get results in real time, have already widely accepted the new system and are looking forward to upcoming pilot deployment.

“inDemand has really brought a cultural change in all participating healthcare organisations,” Martin notes. “We now see more expert engagement with innovation and new skills arising. Likewise, 21 selected companies have successfully developed meaningful solutions. We received over 110 proposals!”

Whilst completed in November 2020, the EU-funded inDemand project is still very much alive. The three pilot regions continue to use the co-creation model, and several EU projects are implementing the new methodology. In Paris, a follow-up initiative called InnovUp was recently launched to “dynamise the deployment of innovation in health organisations across the Ile-de-France region.”

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Spain
Project participants:
Total cost
€ 2 499 940
EU Contribution
€ 2 499 940
Project duration

See also

More information about project inDemand

All success stories