Researchers stimulate new e-health services

Researchers hand out program code to those who want to build e-health services. Nina Sellberg, researcher in health informatics at Karolinska Institutet and head of R&D at Stockholm County Council, explains why.

Nina Lundberg Sellberg. Photo: Private
Nina Lundberg Sellberg. Photo: Private

Why are you handing out program code?

"Spotify was not developed by the music industry. In the same way, we don't believe that traditional IT developers of healthcare solutions will be the driving force behind changes in e-health. We would like to broaden the market with this offer and release the forces which can create new services for healthcare. The idea is to help new players by providing information and tools, such as ready program code, to manage issues that must operate in a certain manner - logging in, blocking, consent and connections with journal systems, for instance.

In this way, different developers don't need to produce code for this every time since they can re-use our quality-assured solutions. This saves both time and money. If development companies make use of this in the right way, they can focus on the leading edge of development - what we really want to achieve - and everything else is free.

How will this contribute to better health and healthcare apps in the future?

"Since healthcare solutions are surrounded by strict security and confidentiality requirements, it has been difficult for new entrants to establish themselves on the market. Thanks to this initiative, the threshold is lowered without the requirements being relaxed. New developers can access quality-assured security solutions, quite simply, and we believe this will lead to innovative solutions being created faster and cheaper than in the past. This will benefit all users.

Can anyone start to develop health apps now?

"The main point is that these new tools are free to use. This applies in particular to the parts which focus on open data, where anyone can download and use tools and data. When it comes to patient data, however, there are important issues to consider. Developers who are working in this area must be professional and meet certain basic requirements on safety and working methods, as specified on our website."

Text: Fredrik Hedlund, first published in Medicinsk Vetenskap no 2, 2015.