On 26 April, 2023 /Wednesday/ the Healthcare Summit 2023 forum, organized by Forbes Bulgaria, with the expert assistance of the Digital Health and Innovation Cluster (DHI Cluster Bulgaria) took place. This year’s edition was centered around the theme “Anatomy of Innovation,” referring to the innovative approach to finding solutions to modern problems in the healthcare sector. The event brought together top leaders in the sector, united by the common goal of initiating and supporting the transformation of healthcare through the implementation of innovative digital solutions to support the creation of a sustainable and efficient healthcare system for the benefit of patients. Among them were more than 10 companies and experts from the DHI Cluster Bulgaria community (FindMeCure, Sqilline, Roche, Ocean Investments, MySynergy, IQVIA, B EYE, Hubis Ltd., NRETIA Health, Medical University-Plovdiv, Dr. Alexander Simidchiev, Dr. Branimir Raduilov, etc.), whose activities have made a significant contribution to the realization of this transformation on a global scale.
The event took place in three parts, each focusing on a different aspect of the healthcare system and including thematic panel discussions, inspiring presentations and real demonstrations.
The first part of the event focused the audience’s attention on next-generation treatments and the opportunities for creating innovative healthcare models and implementing an approach focues on personalized medicine. The panel kicked off with a discussion on “Innovations and best practices in public administration” held between Bogdan Kirilov, Executive Director of the Bulgarian Drug Agency (BDA) and Galina Stoeva, Secretary General of the National Council on Pricing and Reimbursement of Medicinal Products (NCPMP), and moderated by Dr. Rosen Dimitrov, Chairman of the DHI Cluster Board. The conversation focused the attention of the attendees on the better functioning of the Bulgarian administration and the need to create more optimized and efficient processes, as well as a change in mindset to implement innovations and best practices that work for the benefit of the patient.
In this context, Kirilov said that the main goal of the BDA in recent years is “to become an increasingly modern institution,” meeting the standards and level in developed European countries. According to Kirilov, “digitalisation is an inevitable path that the institutions have taken and it is a matter of time before it happens on a larger scale.”
“The Bulgarian Drug Agency is an open and transparent agency for communication, which enables us to identify real problems faster and therefore find solutions for them in a timely manner,” Kirilov said.
The importance of openness and good communication in the context of building a more sustainable health system was also highlighted by Stoeva. According to her, “all the successes of the National Council on the Pricing and Reimbursement of Medicines are due to good inter-institutional communication, as well as the “boutique and innovative” team responsible for the introduction of modern technologies, also recognized at European level as best practices in the sector.
Luka Chichov, IQVIA’s General Manager for Central and Eastern Europe, addressed the topic of innovation in personalized medicine and the penetration of so-called “advanced therapies” into healthcare practices. He presented the global trends related to various innovative therapies, the opportunities and challenges associated with them, and what can contribute to their wider access both in the region and within Bulgaria. According to Chichov, “taking into account the dynamic times we live in and the unprecedented advances in innovative therapies, looking holistically at the underlying factors, Bulgaria is well on its way in the context of best practices in healthcare.”
Maya Zlatanova, co-founder of FindMeCure, introduced the topic of clinical trials and positioned them as a key to hundreds of new therapies. She pointed out that the FindMeCure platform is designed to connect patients seeking treatment with industry in need of people to join clinical trials. In this way, the platform is “the bridge between innovative solutions and the patients who need them.”
The focus of the presentations and discussions during the second part of the event was on the future of medical education. Among the topics addressed during this part were the methods to transform education into one more relevant to our times and the prerequisites for physicians to develop new competencies that will better prepare them for the real practice and future management of different healthcare structures and clinics.
Prof.Blagoy Marinov, MD, Deputy Rector of MU-Plovdiv, and Director of the Medical Simulation Training Center at MU-Plovdiv, presented the advantages of simulation medicine. According to prof. Marinov, a paradigm shift is needed in health training, which today relies on the principle of learning “at the bedside of the patient,” which is unthinkable in the context of the technological advances of the 21st century. Prof. Marinov pointed out that “existing training programs need to adapt to the realities of the new world by engaging more in simulation-based learning.”
In a discussion held between Dr. Alexander Simidchiev, Head of Department at the Central Clinical Base of the Medical Institute of the Ministry of Interior, Darina Stoyanova, President of the Association of Medical Students in Bulgaria – Sofia, Prof. Arman Postadjian, Deputy Dean for Postgraduate Studies at the Medical Faculty of MU-Sofia, moderated by Dr. Branimir Raduilov, health expert, the importance of relevant medical education that stimulates the application of non-innovative approaches and solutions by future health officials was discussed.
“For there to be innovation, there must be people who understand it and apply it in their daily lives,” Raduilov stressed.
The third part of the event was dedicated to the topic of data and technology.
Desislava Mihaylova, co-founder and CEO of Sqilline set the tone for the topic by drawing the attention of the attendees to the important role that data collection and analysis play in providing valuable information regarding patient health.
The topic of the ecosystem approach in the context of health data and innovation was also touched upon in a conversation between Hesham Sabri, General Manager of Roche Bulgaria and Eneya Georgieva, Editor at Forbes Bulgaria.
When we talk about data in the context of healthcare, there was no way not to touch on the topic of quality data collection, analysis, and protection. This was the direction of the discussion held between Yordan Iliev, co-founder of MY Synergy, Stoyan Terziev, manager at B EYE, Krasimir Kotsev, founder of SoCyber, moderated by Mira Ganova, CEO of DHI Cluster. Participants agreed with the statement of the director of MY Sunergy that “without digital data, there is no medicine.” Moreover, according to the discussants, this data can only serve us if it is properly entered and analyzed by the person assigned to this task, which also raised the question of the human factor in the process of structuring, standardizing and analyzing health data.
The last discussion, held between Hristo Buchkov, founder of Hubis and Dr. Atanas Peltekov, doctor at our Arctic base on Livingstone Island, and moderated by Zlatina Georgieva, editor at Forbes Bulgaria, took the attendees beyond the world they now, namely to Antarctica. During the discussion, the topic of telemedicine and its contribution to healthcare in the remotest parts of the earth was touched upon.