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PICTA Reflects on the Past and Looks to the Future!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The spring of 2020 has been unlike anything we are used to or have experienced before. Despite the major changes related to social distancing, remote work, etc., we have been operating at full capacity here in PICTA. Of course, clinic-related activities have dropped off substantially, and the Metis Forum originally planned for this spring has been pushed back, but at the same time we have been able to focus on other things, such as a strategies for the future, network development and the development of new projects. Naturally, this also involves reflection on what has been achieved thus far in PICTA's almost 9-year journey, and the choice of direction for the future. We would like to share some of those observations.

Vinnova launched the Challenge-Driven Innovation programme in 2011. At the time, Bengt Sjöqvist reasoned, on the basis of 35 years of experience in research, innovation, entrepreneurship, establishing companies and international corporate leadership within medical technology and eHealth, that the utilisation of new technology in health care progressed too slowly and that it was not due to a lack of technology. Something ought to be done about that problem, and in consideration of Bengt Arne's vast network within prehospital care, it seemed like the right area on which to focus. 

With support from Robert Sinclair, medical advisor in Region Västra Götaland, and Bosse Norrhem at Lindholmen Science Park, a Challenge-Driven Innovation application was developed for project Metis. The applicant was Region Västra Götaland healthcare, with Bengt Arne as project coordinator and project manager. Funding was granted, and with the cooperation of more than 30 organisations and additional financing from Vinnova, there was a foundation on which to establish Prehospital ICT Arena (PICTA), a collaborative arena influenced by open innovation and SAFER traffic safety centre. Moreover, there was a blueprint for an initial PreHospIT project. There was also a forum for the exchange of knowledge on site, Metis Forum. The question that remained, however, was where the arena should be located? After a great deal of consideration, Lindholmen Science Park was chosen despite limited connections to medical and healthcare, because its fundamental ideas of neutral collaboration, innovation and utilisation aligned with PICTA. As a result, PICTA became part of Lindholmen Science Park in 2015. At the same time, Region Västra Götaland Regional Development stepped in as a funding agency. 

The establishment phase was followed by a development and consolidation phase. In parallel with Bengt Arne's work at Chalmers University of Technology and SAFER, he developed a project portfolio, developed Metis Forum and reinforced external communication and collaboration with triple-helix players on a regional and national level. Bent Arne's 'multiple hats' were very important in this connection, because PICTA quickly gained access to many different networks from various spheres within academics, healthcare, industry, innovators, interest groups and public authorities. Moreover, activities within different spheres could be linked easily and naturally and strengthen one another. Eventually, it also became necessary to take stock of human resources in order to consolidate what had been achieved and to secure a long-term future and continued development. With the guiding princple of "passion, competence and credibility", new team members were sought, and in 2019, Hanna Maurin Söderholm and Glenn Larsson joined PICTA. They had both been known since earlier as wearers of "multiple hats" and having good knowledge, networks and experience at their disposal in order help bring PICTA to the next phase.

A third phase has now been initiated in 2020 - expansion and continued sustainable development. This specifically means a reformulation and expansion of the focus area from prehospital to mobile healthcare. Moreover, Hanna is taking over as head of the programme and Bengt Arne is successively winding down the operative work and focussing to an increasing extent on strategy and business development. There are also plans for additional personnel reinforcements, including an experienced project manager and a person with relevant competence, experience and insight into the Healthcare IT market.

The transition from prehospital to mobile healthcare is a natural step in light of the development that we now see coming. On the national level, for example, the report from the "Good quality, local healthcare" inquiry came out this spring, which stresses that more care should be provided outside of the hospital, e.g. in the home. Success factors described for this transition include prehospital and mobile healthcare's role as an integral component in the healthcare chain and the need for interdisciplinary research and meeting places to expand the exchange and collaboration between professional groups and the two key providers of healthcare - regions and municipalities. The need for research on decision-making support, work procedures and methods in relation to increased digitalisation is also stressed. 

In parallel with this transation, a centralisation of specialities is in progress, often linked to acute health disorders, which demands high precision in early decisions in care processes so that the minimum amount of time is wasted. PICTA has an important role to fill here and will be a national resource with respect to digitalisation in this transition. PICTA is already in charge of several projects and is the driving force behind proposals that are entirely in line with this approach. The vision that guides the work, 'good quality, equitable and optimal mobile healthcare for all' underscores this. To be able to offer everyone the most optimal mobile healthcare possible, regardless of age, gender or place of residence, is a major but also easily understood challenge. Well-functioning digitalisation is a necessary condition and PICTA will also be a driving force in this regard.

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