What IN-4-AHA has achieved so far…

As the final months of IN-4-AHA are approaching fast, we would like to take a moment to showcase how far we have come! While we are working on an inspiring conference for 7 December (save the date!) to conclude the IN-4-AHA project, there is lots of material available already for AHA stakeholders. Discover below!

As you may be aware, the past months were filled with participatory workshops for the development of the scale-up model and informative webinars on how to leverage different financing opportunities, examples of technology in assisted living, cases of successful public-private collaborations, and the challenges of data regulations. You can review all the online workshops and webinars here. IN-4-AHA launched its second call for twinnings and its second online matchmaking event, both in early 2022, to help facilitate networking and knowledge transfers between AHA stakeholders. The twinnings are currently well underway and a more detailed report will be published in the coming months.

We disseminated the report of the roundtable organized by EIT Health Scandinavia and IN-4-AHA on the potential of the German DiGA framework, and organized a second roundtable to discuss the challenges in scaling up innovation for active and healthy ageing. To offer a spotlight for good practices, we held IN-4-AHA Best Practice Month in April, during which we invited all stakeholders to share their good practices in Futurium – Active and Healthy Living in the Digital World. Two good practices were then selected to be showcased during a webinar in June: WellCo, a virtual health and wellbeing coach, and I-MANO, a training program on innovative management and organization of homecare services.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of deliverables is becoming available here on the IN-4-AHA website, such as our recommendations for public/private collaboration, data governance guidebook, investment readiness assessment of the European AHA market, and much more to explore! In addition, our IN-4-AHA participatory design toolkit is now available to support SMEs in their understanding of the process of participatory design. This toolkit interactively guides the user though the participatory design process, potentially helping not only SMEs but also policy makers and investors empower innovation for active and healthy ageing and living.

Other materials will be added over the course of the next four months, keep an eye on our social media channels for any updates. And… don’t forget to block 7 December 2022 in your agenda for IN-4-AHA’s final conference in Estonia!

Co-creating policy recommendations & building the European Active and Healthy Ageing Coalition (EURAHL) – recap

Drafting policy recommendations for active and healthy ageing

IN-4-AHA’s focus is on the development of a scale-up model for innovation in the field of active and healthy ageing, but aside from that the consortium also works on drafting policy recommendations to help facilitate the right environment and market conditions for active and healthy ageing solutions to be scaled up and implemented effectively throughout Europe. EUREGHA, the reference network for European regional and local health authorities and leader of work package 7 is responsible for the development of these policy recommendations, supported by inputs and feedback from the other work packages.

After exploratory, semi-structured interviews with work packages 2 through 6, a first and second draft were developed based on the information collected. To allow for a more dynamic and fruitful exchange of thoughts, EUREGHA hosted an internal workshop for consortium partners at their office in Brussels on 20 June. Director Michele Calabro’ guided the partners through 7 draft recommendations, covering issues such as early-stage funding mechanisms, health data challenges, digital skills, community building, and more.

The third draft of the policy recommendations will be sent to partners for feedback by the end of July, and a fourth draft by mid-September. The goal is to finalize IN-4-AHA’s policy recommendations for the active and healthy ageing field by mid-October.

It was a pleasure to be able to organize this meeting in a hybrid format to ensure maximum participation from the partners, even from those unable to travel to Brussels, and to brainstorm together about how to overcome challenges to upscaling innovative solutions for active and healthy ageing.

 

Building the European Active and Healthy Living Coalition

Speaking of the relevance of building a European AHA community, which will also be reflected in the policy recommendations, there is an interesting initiative in the works to connect quadruple helix stakeholders active in the AHA field from all over Europe through formation of a European Coalition for Active and Healthy Living (acronym: EURAHL). Leading partners are University of Porto and EUREGHA, who have invited all IN-4-AHA partners and external stakeholders such as the Reference Site Collaborative Network, ECHAlliance, EHTEL, Estonian Connected Health Cluster, More Years – Better Lives, and a few others to work on this initiative together.

Many of the meetings have been online but coalition partners had a finally enjoyed the first opportunity to work together in person during a meeting on the 21st of June, where the Terms of Reference were finalized and accepted by all. Next steps are to conduct a gap analysis, draft a communication plan, and show our presence online and at events, so you will likely see more of the EURAHL coalition soon!

Project IN-4-AHA insights into state-of-play with investments into Active-and-Healthy ageing

As the worldwide number of elderly people is rising and causing a fundamental shift in demographics, it is key to think and act long term – and tackle the invisible drivers of long and high-quality living. It means rethinking prevention, treatment and rehabilitation as core early levers so that the burden on healthcare that deals with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, declining cognitive acuity and mental health can be mitigated. 

This is where the active and healthy ageing (AHA) market comes in, focusing on extending access to healthcare and scaling up innovative products and services. It contributes to the long-term sustainability of health, care and social service systems by fostering innovative and cost-effective technologies, services and policies to address the needs of an ageing population.

Project Innovation Networks for Scaling Active and Healthy Ageing (IN-4-AHA), funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme Coordination and Support Action (CSA), Grant Agreement No. 101017603, seeks to develop a practical, validated innovation scale-up model to facilitate the scale-up of innovative solutions across EU in active and healthy ageing.

One of the important steps in creating such a scale-up model is to investigate the current investment landscape of the active and healthy ageing (AHA) market, including investment readiness assessment of the AHA market, identifying current gaps and proposing potential solutions to mitigate them, at the same time structuring a how-to checklist for start-ups preparing to raise investment in this sector.

With these aspects and areas of focus in mind, research under the scope of the IN-4-AHA project was carried out, mapping the current investment landscape based on insights from companies, investors and ecosystem facilitators. Secondary research focusing on the investment landscape and past transactions was also used to provide context and quantification of the trends and insights into the experiences of individual entrepreneurs and ecosystem players.

Based on the analysis, a map of available private, public and blended investment sources (options) for entrepreneurs to finance the development and scale-up phases of their AHA businesses were identified, having in mind also product and technology readiness and company development stage. An evaluation of relative availability was also performed. 

It is evident that the availability of sources is not uniform, and special emphasis was placed on understanding the main reasons behind the situation so that the scale-up model can be built to prioritize interventions to create an impact. 

Five key gaps were identified and potential solutions to mitigate those were proposed:

Gap no. 1: The AHA market is deemed as being highly fragmented in the EU, causing less innovation and start-up activity in this market as well as challenges when trying to scale.

  • Solution 1: Initiatives on both national and EU levels.
  • Solution 2: Measures for the Innovators to be better prepared to navigate the complexities.

Gap no. 2: Innovators lack understanding of AHA market stakeholders.

  • Solution 1: Government-backed sandboxes.
  • Solution 2: Comprehensive ways to engage with the stakeholders.

Gap no. 3: There is a stigma associated with getting old/the older generation, causing overall reluctance to develop and use solutions and in turn – limited attractiveness to investors.

  • Solution 1: Initiatives to change the attitudes via education and intergenerational contact.
  • Solution 2: A move towards needs-based solutions, rather than aged-based, shifting from healthy ageing to healthy living as a key message of the emerging industry.

Gap no. 4: Lack of business support for AHA start-ups in the early stages.

  • Solution: Specialised accelerators and sandboxes for AHA businesses.

Gap no. 5: Lack of investor activity.

  • Solution 1: Implementing initiatives that encourage investor activity in the AHA market.
  • Solution 2: Utilising the ESG movement to foster investment into the AHA market.

 

Read the full report here.

 

IN-4-AHA publications and deliverables

We often invite you, our stakeholders to provide feedback on tools and materials that are being developed by the IN-4-AHA project to support the scale-up of innovative health solutions , but what about the final results?

You can find the list of all envisioned public deliverables from the IN-4-AHA project under the website section for tools and resources > project outputs.  On this page, you can also find all our recorded events available for replay at any time you like. Additional follow-up materials such as presentation slides can be found on the news section of Futurium – Active and Healthy Living in the Digital World.

IN-4-AHA public deliverables are added to the webpage in order of publication and a few interesting ones are already available! For example, you can find out everything you need to know about participatory design workshops and the innovation scale-up process in the health and care sector from the similarly named report. You can also explore possible methods for evaluating your innovative solution by reading through our review of evaluation tools used in the field of active and healthy ageing. We have also suggested an evaluation framework to help assess person-centeredness of innovative solutions, because innovations focused on person-centeredness are likely to have better and wider uptake. This could even help you increase validation of your solution and secure funding!

To discover more about the European investment landscape for the active and healthy ageing market you can check our investment readiness assessment. This report identifies market and investment gaps and proposes potential mitigating actions for innovators to improve their strategy for attracting investment.

You can find additional information and examples on how to obtain public and/or private funding in the recorded webinars from 8 and 9 March, respectively. Click here for the session on public funding, and here for the session on private funding.

Public deliverables that have not been published on the website yet are to be expected in the coming months leading up to the IN-4-AHA final conference on 7 December 2022, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. You can also submit comments or suggestions anonymously through our feedback survey.

Best Practices Month is back! [extended]

The IN-4-AHA consortium is looking for the best practices in active and healthy living, developed by Europe’s leading SMEs, entrepreneurs, networks, regional health care officials, and R&D expertise in the field.  

Futurium – Active and Healthy Living in the Digital World, is a forum-like platform where all stakeholders are free to share their projects. It also features subgroups based on the main topics of interest of the AHA community: Wellbeing and Health promotion, Ecosystems and Reference Sites, International Cooperation, Silver Economy & HealthTech, Age-Friendly environments, and, Digital Health Literacy. Not only can users advertise their events and share news, but also post on the Best practices section. Best practices can broadly be defined as innovative technologies, methodologies, projects, or programs, developed to solve a problem, or address a need regarding active and healthy ageing (AHA). 

Having doubts on how to use Futurium? See this useful guide (Futurium User Manual | Futurium (europa.eu) developed by its team, and download a Q&A (https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/active-and-healthy-living-digital-world/forum/eip-aha-action-groups-are-transitioning-futurium) prepared by the IN-4-AHA that answers some of the most common questions and presents an overview of the website. 

Between the 1st of April and the 13th of May [deadline extended], post your best practices in Futurium! 

How to participate? 

  1. Make sure you have a futurium account  

  1. Post your good practice in the Best Practices section of the main forum or subforums, following the posting guidelines is recommended (Length – 10 lines; TRL level of the developed solution; where, by whom and how the solution has been created, tested, and deployed; link to full information, video, or other graphic material) 

  1. Use the one IN-4-AHA hashtag (IN4AHA or IN-4-AHA) to let us know you want to share your work with the consortium  

  1. Done! 

Three participants will be invited to present their project in one of our webinars, in early June! 

4th Call for Reference Sites OPEN!

Active and Healthy Ageing Reference Sites are alliances or partnerships of health and care stakeholders within a region, major metropolitan area, or geographic locality that can implement or develop innovative and person-centered solutions and digital technologies, to address the life-course health and care needs and priorities for active and healthy ageing in their region.

By bringing together all health and care stakeholders across Public Authorities, Health and Care Providers, Research, Academia, Industry, Civic Society and Patient Groups, Reference Sites can ensure there is a common understanding of the policy, organizational, technical, and financial challenges facing the region, and shared efforts are undertaken to deliver a life-course approach to active and healthy ageing. Working together the stakeholders can develop, test, implement, and scale-up new approaches, innovative solutions, and digital health technologies to improve health and care outcomes for patients and their communities; enhance the sustainability of region’s health and care systems; and create increased opportunities for research and innovation. Collectively, this can bring benefits to the region that have a multiplier effect at national and European levels for sustainable development.

 All existing Active and Healthy Ageing Reference Sites and other regions across Europe that are addressing a life-course approach to active and healthy ageing are invited to apply and be accredited as an Active and Healthy Ageing Reference Site. Becoming a Reference Site not only brings benefits to your region through the collaboration with other health and care stakeholders; it also offers opportunities to collaborate, and share knowledge, learning and good practices to address life-course approaches to active and healthy ageing with other Reference Site regions across Europe.

Further information on the 4th Call for Reference Sites, along with links to the Online application form are available here. The deadline to apply is the 31st of May.

The Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN) will also be organising Information Sessions for those wishing to apply for the 4th Call; further information and dates will be published later.

The DiGAs framework – a model for Europe?

EIT Health & IN-4-AHA roundtable

On the 24th of November 2021, EIT Health Scandinavia organized a roundtable within the IN-4-AHA project to discuss insights related to the German Digital Health Care Act and shed light on the status of digital health applications at national and European level. In particular, the aim was to answer the question of whether this German model could be suitable for other European countries as well.

To this end, 15 stakeholders from the Nordic countries (incl. Estonia) were invited to share their views. This resulted in a diverse panel filled with decision makers and opinion leaders such as regulatory authorities, health insurance providers, healthcare experts, service providers, and developers. They were accompanied by a virtual audience of 30 listeners from all over Europe.

The event consisted of two sessions. Kicking off the first session, Erik Forsberg, previous Managing Director of EIT Health Scandinavia, presented lessons from previous roundtables on accelerating healthcare innovation in the Nordics. Then, Henrik Matthies, Managing Director at the Federal Ministry of Health and Health Innovation Hub in Germany, shared the German experiences with DiGA. Tim Andrews, Co-Founder and COO at ORCHA, contributed the UK perspective on bringing digital health applications to market. Lastly, Anders Tunold-Hansen from the Nordic Interoperability Project provided an overview of achievements under the Nordic cross-border N!P project.

But what do we actually refer to when we speak of DiGA/DiGAs? The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) summarized six characteristics a medical device should fulfil to be called a DiGA:

  • Medical device of risk class I or IIa (according to MDR or under transitional provisions according to MDD)
  • The main function of the device is based on digital technologies
  • The device is not an application that merely serves to read or control a device; the medical purpose must be substantially achieved by the main digital function
  • The device supports detection, monitoring, treatment, or mitigation of disease or the detection, treatment, mitigation, or compensation of injury or disability
  • The device is not for primary prevention
  • The device is shared by the patient or healthcare provider and patient, i.e. applications that are only used by a physician to treat patients (office equipment) are not DiGAs.

The second session consisted of the roundtable discussion with stakeholders, centered around nine related questions:

  1. What are the main challenges in bringing digital health devices to the market?
  2. Does the current reimbursement system cover the patient’s expenses in your country?
  3. Is your country ready to accept digital health devices that have been accepted for reimbursement in other EU countries?
  4. What have been the main challenges in adopting and implementing the new regulations, and who are the most active stakeholders in driving development going forward?
  5. Do you believe that the DiGA regulation from Germany could be a basis for developing regulations in your country?
  6. Do you think we need to harmonize the digital health device market regulation, and if so, what are the next steps?
  7. If you are looking at the best practices of the digital health devices in your country, which of these practices could be used by other countries in the Nordic Region, or across Europe?
  8. What parts should be developed together and what should be developed in the individual countries?
  9. What do you see as the three main challenges in bringing digital health devices to the market?

Access the official event report via the button below and learn more about the outcomes of the discussion of each question.

IN-4-AHA online matchmaking: Successes from the first edition

The goal of IN-4-AHA online matchmaking events is to connect Solution Providers (supply actors such as companies, start-ups, researchers developing products/services) with Need Owners (demand actors such as care providers, policy makers, potential buyers of products/services). In turn, this facilitates cross-border partnerships that can benefit the scaling up of innovative practices. For example, one of the partnerships that was formed during the first matchmaking event has resulted in a successful application for the IN-4-AHA Twinning program.

The first edition of IN-4-AHA online matchmaking took place on 29 and 30 November 2021, both days from 11:00 until 18:00. Participants had 12 meeting slots each day to schedule meetings as they saw fit, and on day 2 there was also an informative webinar on lessons learned from twinning and matchmaking events. The webinar is available for replay here.

The first matchmaking event was attended by 21 Solution Providers, such as PlatformUptake.eu and GeneratieThuis, and 4 Need owners, such as Atendo and Empirica/Incareheart PCP Project. Out of all meetings, in at least four of them the involved parties committed to another follow-up meeting to potentially build up their partnership. Notably, Atendo and GeneratieThuis joined hands to submit an application for the IN-4-AHA Twinning program and were successfully selected during the first call in late 2021. Read more about the twinning between Atendo and GeneratieThuis, as well as the other pairs selected so far, here.  

IN-4-AHA’s second online matchmaking event is planned from 7 to 10 March, daily from 10:00 to 17:00 with meeting slots, interesting showcases, and informative webinars. Find more information and a link to register here. 

Daniel Kotsjuba: Start with the end-user when designing products or services

Designer of the Estonian Public Sector Innovation Team (Innotiim), Daniel Kotsjuba, spoke at the IN-4-AHA seminar on 18 January dedicated to methods co-creation process in the AHA field, about how co-creation has been implemented in the public sector. The seminar is available for replay here

The Public Sector Innovation Team is tasked with making Estonia’s public services more user-friendly and people-centric in cooperation with ministries and divisions. The team also organises service design trainings for public sector officials. In his introduction of the Public Sector Innovation Team and what it does, Daniel brought out that the end-user is often forgotten when designing products or services and the focus is on the needs of the provider. As a result of such design process, the end-user might not start to use the product or service at all. The main objective of the Public Sector Innovation Team is to represent the interests and needs of the user in the design process.  

According to Daniel, they have been asked repeatedly where service design can and cannot be used. He believes the real question should be about the organisation’s approach to the process. “If you approach things with bias, if you’re not open and have already made up your mind on certain things, you risk not getting the full benefit of the process,” says Daniel. “You shouldn’t be afraid and you should have the support of the organisation. As a team, we have to see to it that the voices of everyone involved are heard, and our very important role in the design process is to stand up for the user’s perspective and needs. The meaning of ‘user’ may vary from project to project.”

Pathway design for cancer patients

One of the first projects of the Public Sector Innovation Team was to design the care pathway of a cancer patient for North Estonia Medical Centre. The aim of the project was to analyse the pathway undertaken by a patient and to make improvements based on the analysis. According to Daniel, the Public Sector Innovation Team took a look at the entire pathway, including the time before and after the patient’s stay at the hospital. The patient’s pathway before the hospital determines what takes place at the hospital.

To map the path, several personas were developed to represent cancer patients. The team tried to map out the various ways people might end up taking the pathway. This part is always very important in projects, as it provides an opportunity to visualise abstract issues in concrete terms and discuss what makes a specific step on the pathway a high or low point for the patient.

The process revealed that a patient’s need for support begins while they are still awaiting a diagnosis. This led to the question: how to offer support to someone who has yet to enter the system, strictly speaking. This period also proved difficult for loved ones.

Another important finding was that patients do not have sufficient awareness and an overview of the care pathway. This might be the first time in someone’s life that they have to deal more closely with doctors and they might not know exactly what they should be doing.

It was also revealed that treatment lacks comprehensive support. People want to be seen as a person in their own right, not just as a cancer patient, because their lives are not defined by the disease. However, as Daniel points out, we often see processes that are designed to treat persons first and foremost as cancer patients and only then as a whole human being.

Conclusions made

As a result of the design process, it was concluded that a new post – nurse coordinator – should be created in the medical system. A nurse coordinator would act as a mediator between the medical treatment team and the patient, keeping an eye on what the patient is doing. In addition, it was found that support specialists should be more involved in the care pathway, as this would significantly improve the patient’s compliance as well as treatment results. Third, it was brought out that communication between patients, their relatives and the medical team could be more effective.

According to Daniel, we can now say that this project and others like it have helped bring about a shift to look at things more from the patient’s point of view and, as a result, certain processes have either already changed or are changing.

According to him, the overall mindset is changing; Daniel and his team have increasingly less explaining to do as to why it is important to consider the end-user perspective. “Luckily, we have seen a big positive change in this respect, but we also have to realize that we are dealing with a process and changes take time,” says Daniel.

First selection of twinning pairs

We are pleased to announce the first 7 twinning projects that have been selected to be supported by the IN-4-AHA project! 

Twinnings are cross-border cooperation programs, that allow knowledge exchange and technology transfer between different EU regions, one being the originator (the developer of the initiative/innovative solution) and other being the adopter. Participants establish an action plan to learn and/or implement the innovation, which typically involves in-person meetings between them. The IN-4-AHA consortium can support this activity by re-imbursing travel expenses (travel, accommodation, food in the workday) up to 5.000 euros.

The first call for IN-4-AHA’s twinning selected 7 innovative practices originating organizations located in Spain, Portugal, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands. Partners from Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal will be adopting these innovations. The selected projects are:

  • The Ministry of Health and Families of Andalusia (RMHFA) Reference Site, that will be sharing ClicSalud+, a portal for citizens to access personal health information, for both administrative and clinical purposes, with the Scottish Government Reference Site
  • Lisbon AHA (Actif Age) and the Galician Health Ministry (Atendo) Reference Site will be exchanging another ICT tool for active and healthy aging but focused on developing physical and cognitive exercises for elderly populations – the Actif Age, an interactive digital platform for physical and cognitive activities.
  • Atendo (Galician Health Ministry) enters another twinning, as an adopter of the Smart Library (SlimoTheek) and the My Home Fits (Mijn Huis Op Maat) from GeneratieThuis, a Dutch organization specialized in delivering smart tools that support age-friendly environments, citizen empowerment, health self-management and ageing at home.
  • The Digital Health & Care Northern Ireland (Department of Health of Northern Ireland Reference Site) has developed the apps4dementia library, hosts a selection of safe and trusted mobile apps which provide people affected by dementia and their carers with information and guidance. The technical and operational aspects of this platform will be shared with the Department of Public Health, University of Naples “Federico II” (Campania Reference Site).
  • Also from the same originator – Digital Health & Care Northern Ireland (Department of Health of Northern Ireland Reference Site) within the apps4dementia library, two specific apps to support dementia patients and their careers have been developed, the InspireD Reminiscence App and the CLEAR Dementia Care App. They will be the basis of a knowledge exchange twinning with the NGO Greek Carers Network – EPIONI (Active Healthy Ageing 4 Attica Reference Site).
  • The Northern Spain Region is once more represented by the Galician Health Ministry, via the ACIS- Axencia de Coñecemento en Saúde,  this time as an originator of innovative practice, the Galician Network of Health Living Labs – LABSAÚD, to be shared with a Portuguese NGO Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Riba d’Ave (Porto4Ageing Reference Site).
  • The Ministry of Health Catalonia, Fundació TICSALUT Social Reference Site, via the Rovira I Virgili University was crucial in the development of the SoCaTel Co-Creation Platform  a tool for long care services, designed by a multi-stakeholder coalition based on the quadruple helix approach, including input from professionals, users, researchers, and innovators. SoCaTel will be adapted by the Digital Health Platform of the Usti Region Reference Site, though the Innovation Centre of the Usti Region.