How Big Pharma Leverages Sweden’s Booming Digital Health Startup Scene

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Sweden is considered a world leader in technology, and its innovative electronic health records system is in high demand by international researchers. Two key leaders of multinational pharma companies in Sweden share how their companies are leveraging digital technology to empower patients.

 

We know that startups are developing the technology which will shape the healthcare of the future, and we are excited to be part of this revolution.

Malin Parkler, Country Manager, Pfizer Sweden

 

Digital health is the convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery. The internet has been transforming the way we think about personal health and well-being over the last decade, with a multitude of digital services being developed that inform and empower patients.

 

Sweden is considered among the most tech-savvy nations in the world; its highly skilled engineers are thinking outside the box to develop practical healthcare apps and its citizens are readily adopting these apps to improve their well-being. In the first half of 2017, health tech attracted 10 percent of all Swedish tech venture capital investment, according to a report by Industrifonden. The country has an ambitious objective that “by 2025, Sweden will be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitisation and eHealth to make it easier for people to achieve good and equal health and welfare.” (Source: Swedish eHealth Agency) The country already boasts several digital health services such as ePrescriptions, personal online health accounts, electronic birth registration, digital doctor appointments via video chat, and online booking systems.

 

Big pharma companies in Sweden have taken note of the rise in digital health services and are jumping on board to create their own technologies and collaborate with other tech startups, with the goal of increased awareness and patient empowerment. According to an interview with Iddo Leshem, general manager for the Nordics region at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), “Lately we have been dedicating energy and time to better understand and plan for what we see as a rising trend in healthcare: empowered patients. A growing number of patients are becoming more involved in decisions about their health and treatment. These patients are connected, tech savvy and have better access to information, especially in a country like Sweden. In Sweden, we have a unique opportunity to think about this topic and are trying to bring it to the table every time with get the opportunity. In order to do so, we have initiated a collaboration with WarOnCancer AB. This Swedish tech company was founded by Fabian Bolin who was diagnosed with cancer at age 28 and started documenting his battle on a blog that quickly garnered global attention. As a result, he created WarOnCancer, a social network where cancer patients can share their stories. Together, we have organized four roundtable discussions with close to a hundred KOLs about how to better empower patients. The fifth will take place during Almedalen Week, one of the most important forums in Swedish politics. It will be followed by a report on the implications for the healthcare system.”

 

Leshem continues, “Moreover, we have developed an app for cancer patients treated with immuno-oncology, in collaboration with leading physicians and a digital health company designed to support patients outside the clinic. Through this app, patients are able to report critical information such as side effects. The information is aggregated and made available to physicians.”

 

Malin Parkler, country manager for Pfizer Sweden, told Pharmaboardroom that “Pfizer is now leveraging Sweden’s burgeoning digital health startup ecosystem. Globally, Pfizer has a network of Healthcare Hubs in cities with a dynamic startup scene in the area of healthcare, such as New York, Berlin, London and Tel Aviv. Stockholm is one of them. The goal is to identify, interact and support the startups that can provide solutions to our patient’s most challenging problems, solutions that can help us produce the best possible outcomes with our medicines, including better diagnostics, monitoring, treatment follow-up and patient support tools. We know that startups are developing the technology which will shape the healthcare of the future, and we are excited to be part of this revolution.”

 

Parkler added that “one interesting initiative we are involved in is the Dream Catcher, a collaboration with the Young Rheumatics (Unga Reumatiker) patient organization, Department of Pediatric Rheumatology at Karolinska University Hospital, Centrum for Rheumatology, Pfizer and the communications agency Gullers Grupp. The initiative aims to develop the Dream Catcher app, an innovative digital tool for young people with rheumatic disease and has received support from Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency. The purpose of the app Dream Catcher is to inspire children, young people and young adults with rheumatic disease to achieve their dreams and not be limited by their disease.”

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