The Swedish healthcare system is one of the highest ranked in the world but there is more to be done in today’s increasingly digitalised world. Other industries, such as finance and retail, have also undergone similar shifts over the past few decades, resulting in higher levels of effectiveness and customer-centricity thanks to the implementation of new technologies and ways of working.
Healthcare in Sweden has begun to embrace such developments as well, with the Swedish government and Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions recently launching a joint vision for digitalisation in health.
Moving at the forefront of this change is Geras Solutions, a project born from Swedish Care International. Geras Solutions is a mobile healthcare app that allows for distance based dementia assessment and clinical referrals, making it more efficient to provide healthcare to those who do not usually have access.
Today at Swedish App Scene, we are privileged to interview Haza Newman, the CEO of Geras Solutions. He shared with us the future of how digitalisation in healthcare can go, especially in the dementia sector.
Firstly, why does the world need Geras Solutions?
Dementia is today a global epidemic with more than 47 million diagnosed cases, and a global cost of almost 1 trillion dollars, effectively making it the 18th biggest economy in the world. These numbers are expected to soar in the next 30 years.
Geras Solutions essentially brings the entire hospital procedure for dementia care to the digital platform. In a world with no medication for dementia, this is all we have.
It is a serious problem indeed. What can Geras Solutions do to help?
With an early diagnosis, there are some actions that can be taken to greatly slow down the progression of the disease. Lifestyle changes and regular treatment can be started earlier as well, allowing the patients to live independently for longer.
Healthcare systems and hospitals would also be able to save considerable sums. It is estimated that at Karolinska Institutet alone, 40% of referred patients do not show any sign of dementia. Identifying them correctly before referring them could allow savings between 700 thousand to 2 million Swedish Kr. per year, just in that single hospital.
When time is so valuable to these patients, you need to actively help them as fast as possible.
How does Geras Solutions help with an early diagnosis?
In Geras Solutions, we digitalised the diagnostic tests for dementia on our platform. This is extremely useful because there are certain questions that are more accurate with the documentation of how you answer your questions, and the time you have taken to complete them.
With this digital data, we will be able to plot graphs with analytics and analyse our data with greater accuracy. This provides us with greater insights into risk assessment and diagnosis.
These digital cognitive tests are based on scientifically proven and widely acknowledged cognitive tests used in memory clinics worldwide. Users are then able to have a video-based consultation with a dementia-certified nurse, before having an expert physician to go through the results of their test with them. If a risk for dementia exists, the patient will be referred to a memory clinic for a necessary face-to-face consultation before a final diagnosis.
On average, Geras Solutions will help to save three clinical visitations, which takes about two months in Sweden. On a global average, this takes about two years because of instances when patients get misreferred. Geras Solutions hope to mitigate this problem by providing good, fair and accessible care to the world.
I see a promising future that Geras Solutions want to spearhead. Where will you start?
Currently, we are working very closely with Karolinska Institutet to ensure scientific validation, testing and reliability of the app. Guiding the Geras Solutions team, there is an advisory board composed of some of the world’s leading experts in the dementia field, as well as health policy and industry experts.
The next step will be to pave the way for clinical trials, before getting the approvals from the Swedish Food and Drug Administration and Karolinska Institutet’s Ethics Board. Once we have acquired all the necessary administrative process, we will launch the app.
Our launch market will be in China. It is extremely important for us to establish Chinese market if we want to help the most number of people in the shortest time possible. This is due to the sheer size of the Chinese market being equivalent to the rest of the dementia market in the world, which is about 7% of the global population.
Apart from the huge market, the healthcare system and available resources in China are not as accessible, which is why they need more help. Nevertheless, the Chinese community is very well-versed in technology, especially mobile applications, which is why we feel that Geras Solutions will gain traction quickly. The Chinese society is one that adopts and adapts fast.
China is an incredibly different market. How do you plan to penetrate the market?
Thankfully, our parent company, Swedish Care International, has been in China for 6 years now. We have other partnerships and of course, all services will be localised to the native language as well and tested through Chinese FDA. Though there are many differences between the east and the west, the Swedish branding in healthcare is something people aspire to and we hope that connection makes us attractive.
Thank you, Haza! One last question – What is the meaning behind Geras Solutions?
That is a very good question. In Greek Mythology, Geras is the god of old age. It is considered a virtue, whereby the more geras you have, the more fame, excellence and courage you are considered to have. We like the wisdom behind this concept of graceful ageing. It is also the root word for geriatric professions.
As for the logo, we focus on design for dementia patients, so we have to use high contrast colours that do not hinder recognition. This means that we want to avoid pastel shades and colours such as blue and neon. We eventually chose green because it stands for innovation. It also gives off a relaxing and trusting message while making it easy for people to see, falling within the guidelines for our colour palette.