Published in Helsinki Times 18.9.2014
The ActiveMEDI service together with an emergency card was developed to make the health care system more efficient in situations where the medical staff urgently need to know the patient’s medical history. The innovation aims to empower people with Alzheimer’s or other memory disturbances and help them in maintaining a better life quality after the diagnosis.
In Finland, there are approximately 130 000 people with memory-related illnesses, and at least one million Finns are indirectly affected by them. As it is currently the national Muistiviikko (Alzheimer’s Week), a number of events have been planned that discuss how the quality of life of those with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related illnesses could be improved and maintained.
Forming a part of Muistiviikko events, a new innovation called ActiveMEDI was launched last week. Behind the innovation is Solarch Oy, a Finnish startup company that was founded in 2012. During this autumn, the members of Muistiliitto (The Alzheimer Society of Finland) are able to utilise the service first. Later, it will become available to everyone.
Along with the service comes an emergency card, containing all the essential data of the patient’s medical history and the nature of their illness. This is all the information medical staff need to know in a situation where the patient requires treatment immediately and is unable to give that information themselves. The service is launched first for people with memory-related illnesses but there are plans for expansion to include people with other illnesses too. The main idea behind the innovation is to support people in taking an active role when diagnosed with a serious illness.
“We want to empower people to take control of their own illness and lessen the effects of the unpleasant situation in their lives”, says Alireza Hasanpour, the founder and CEO of Solarch Oy.
He was inspired after witnessing closely his own family members and relatives falling ill and the next of kin struggling to come to terms with the situation:
”The thought behind our innovation is to reach into what happens after people come out of the doctor’s office, and how we could help people amidst that confusion.”
Apart from providing the patient with additional security in their changing circumstances, the emergency service also improves the medical staff’s working abilities in a confusing situation. A QR code on the card enables all the vital information to be easily read. It helps, for example, the paramedics to gain special access to the medical information in cases of emergencies, and for them to know how to best treat the patient.
“Dealing with patients who are unable to give the medical staff the information they need, can be life-threatening. Helping us through the journey and bringing first-class scientific advice to our disposal, our team of advisors and board members include renowned senior authorities within the health sector,” Hasanpour says.
One of them is Tom Silfvast. He is a member of the board of medical expertise, specialising in the developing of Emergency Medical Services in Finland. Silfvast has been a vital part of the developing process of ActiveMEDI, helping Hasanpour and his crew to build the solution for different illness areas, including heart diseases and diabetes, as well as Alzheimer.
Finland as starting point
MP as well as the chairperson of the board of Muistiliitto Merja Mäkisalo-Ropponen, who has initiated an Memory club at the Parliament, says that the service also provides an opportunity for great savings in the societal level.
“The fact is that nearly 70 million euro would be saved annually if as little as five per cent of those currently in institutional care could stay at home or live in communal housing where professional help is available for them when needed. This service helps us to achieve that. Institutional care should be the absolute last resort, it is the most expensive option as well as the most unpleasant from a human point of view,” Mäkisalo-Ropponen says.
Apart from the card, the patients are given a sticker with the same QR code on it. The sticker can be attached on, for example, one’s KELA card. In an emergency situation, anyone with a mobile phone with the code reading abilities can scan the sticker and find out for example who the emergency contact is and call them.
To Solarch Oy, the privacy and security of those with emergency cards is of great importance. The patient or their next of kin can decide themselves what information they want on show when their card is being read through the QR code. Secured servers, SSL secured connections and data encryption ensure that the most private information remains private.
The emergency solution is starting its journey in Finland but the aim is to make the service a global system. Therefore, for example an Alzheimer’s patient will feel more secure in travelling, too.
“I think this country is the perfect platform for an innovation like this because of the high standard of data storage and the diligent following of regulations here. Launching the service in Finland does not require that much effort as people are used to processing data systemically and in a secure manner. Bringing the service to other countries will be easier as per Finland’s good reputation with the handling of private data,” Hasanpour says.
The service will be free for everyone in Finland. During the launching period this autumn, the emergency card can also be obtained free of charge – later on, a small fee will be introduced. The first point of information for those interested in learning more about the service is Muistiliitto where the staff is also happy to help with the process of obtaining the card.