The digital health ecosystem in Bulgaria offers solutions to tackle the epidemic crisis
During COVID-19 pandemic, patients, their doctors and the entire nation are at risk while seeking or providing healthcare in the country. Thus, with the increasing risks of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has become an effective solution to ensure the safety of patients and physicians.
Already at the end of 2018, the Digital Health and Innovation Cluster Bulgaria was founded. It is a non-governmental organization that supports digital solutions in Bulgaria by building an entrepreneurial ecosystem for collaboration among all stakeholders in the sector. Over the last year and a half, the Cluster has been actively supporting its members and encouraging the development and integration of digital solutions in the country in search of a holistic approach to digitizing the health sector.
Telemedicine is a major focus in digital healthcare development with remote diagnostics and patient monitoring capabilities, as well as recording online reviews, videos and written communications with physicians across the country. It allows people to access basic health services at home while maintaining social exclusion or quarantine. This in turn significantly reduces the risk of exposure of COVID-19 to vulnerable groups of people in society, especially people with chronic and rare disease who need regular monitoring.
Several Bulgarian companies, part of the Bulgarian cluster for digital solutions and innovations in healthcare, are making great efforts and developing successful and effective telemedicine solutions.
Check Point Cardio is one of these telemedicine companies, who patents and produces the world’s first intensive, personal-use monitor that monitors more than 10 vital indicators online in real time. It successfully launched the first crisis monitoring center for patients with coronavirus symptoms. It operates in Bucharest and is already monitoring all Romanian citizens who have symptoms of the virus, as the device may replace equipment used in a hospital environment. The company expects a decision by the Bulgarian Crisis Centre to implement the technology in Bulgaria, since the introduction of such a measure will actually ease the hospital system in the monitoring and treatment of quarantine patients.
In terms of primary diagnosis, the pandemic puts enormous pressure on doctors, specialists and emergency centers who are overwhelmed and have difficulty answering phone calls. There remains the risk of many people clustering in front of doctors’ offices. The interactive medical platform Consento and Healee offer – other two telemedicine companies, enables real-time communication between doctor-doctor and physician-patient. With the applications, patients can consult physicians online, with access to specialized medical care quick, easy and timely, but most of all without the risk of epidemics. There is also the possibility of access to specialized pediatric care, which is of particular importance to children and young people aged 0 to 18 who currently need timely pediatric consultation.
Dr. Alexander Simidchiev, Pulmonologist, Head of the Department of Non-Invasive Diagnostics at the Medical Institute to the the Ministry of Interior, and digital health expert who has supported the Cluster since its establishment, is clear that the use of reliable telemedicine platforms at the time of a pandemic is an accessible and effective way in compliance with quarantine measures and limitation of infection in the country: ‘Telemedicine minimizes direct contacts related to exposure to the coronavirus and other potentially infectious micro-organisms. Telemedicine platforms allow for reliable and secure communication between doctor and patient and allow the transmission of any type of medical data, which ensures the health of both patients and protects that of physicians at high risk during an epidemic.”
The DHI Cluster Bulgaria supports its members in dealing with the crisis and urges all to comply with the official recommendations of the World Health Organization, which are actively using telemedicine applications, so that the infection is maximally controlled in countries and to avoid the risk of mass contamination. Enhanced measures on a global scale include the increasing involvement of physicians in telemedicine applications so that healthcare professionals are protected to the maximum, whilst managing to provide quality care to citizens in need