Easier access to information and faster implementation of medical knowledge in practice – this is the goal of the Digital Innovation Hub DIGI2Health. Within its framework, data from scientific institutions, medical facilities, and commercial entities from all over Europe will be mutually accessible. The project of Palacký University Olomouc and its partners makes the Olomouc region a Central European leader in the use of IT technologies in medicine.
According to the founders of the hub, there is great potential for the development of business activities as well as for the future of patient care in the digitisation and sharing of knowledge and experience. “We have formed this consortium and initiated the creation of the Digital Innovation Hub DIGI2Health to make the results of medical science research available, by means of digital technology, to all who need it – be it in molecular and translational medicine, spiritual health, the health of athletes at Palacký University, or in telemedicine at University Hospital Olomouc,” said Roman Jurečka, Director of the UP Science and Technology Park, which serves to connect the academic environment with the application and commercial spheres.
“DIGI2Health is part of the European platform of digital innovation hubs supported by the European Commission, thanks to which we have the opportunity to access the data of research institutions throughout Europe as well as to offer the findings made here in Olomouc to foreign partners. I am sure that we have a lot to offer and that it will succeed,” he added.
Palacký University Rector, Jaroslav Miller, followed up: “The DIGI2Health project raises healthcare to a higher level and makes the Olomouc region one of the national and Central European centres for using new digital technologies in medicine. Needless to say, this has resulted from the productive partnership in innovation between Palacký University and a number of other institutions and companies.”
Importance amplified due to the coronavirus crisis
The results of their work, experience, and knowledge will be shared within the Digital Innovation Hub of UP workplaces, such as the Department of Geoinformatics which focusses on collecting, managing, analysing, and visualising spatial information in various areas of society, or the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine (IMTM) whose team, among other things, developed the CovIT software solution enabling the computerisation of processes associated with high-capacity blanket testing of COVID-19.
“I have been working in the field of processing and analysing biomedical data for more than twenty-five years. During that time, I have realised the growing importance of this area of medicine. Digitisation of healthcare is also a huge issue, and we have all undoubtedly realised its importance during the coronavirus crisis. New technologies are penetrating medicine, enabling a detailed description of anatomical structures as well as detailed molecular composition of tissues. All these analyses require a completely new approach to data processing and understanding. For these reasons, I very much welcome the creation of the DIGI2Health hub under the auspices of Palacký University Olomouc. It is an extraordinary opportunity for the development of business activities, but also for the improvement of care for our patients,” said Marián Hajdúch, IMTM Director, in regard to the establishment and purpose of the hub.
Collaborating medical facilities – University Hospital Olomouc, the Tomas Bata Regional Hospital in Zlín, and the AGEL Educational and Research Institute – also see the established platform for the digitisation of healthcare as a great opportunity.
“For small and medium-sized enterprises, there are a number of barriers that make it difficult for them to work with a research organisation. The involvement of University Hospital Olomouc in the Digital Innovation Hub will enable us to overcome these barriers and offer these companies cooperation in their telemedicine research projects. The emergence of the hub will further accelerate the development of telemedicine in the Czech Republic, and thanks to cooperation with small and medium enterprises, we will be able to put our innovations into practice faster,” said Roman Havlík, Director of Olomouc University Hospital, which houses the National Telemedicine Centre with its long-term experience in providing health services at a distance using information and communications technology. According to Havlík, the centre’s activities have confirmed the need for cooperation with the commercial sphere and the need to create a quality background for it – and that is what the DIGI2Health project offers.
“The goal of our Educational and Research Institute is, among other things, to acquire new scientific knowledge and expertise in this dynamically developing field. The Institute publicly disseminates the results of its activities in the form of educational events, publications, and knowledge transfer, with an emphasis on the implementation of modern procedures and skills, and of technological knowledge into everyday practice. That is why we could not miss our participation in the establishment of DIGI2Health,” said AGEL Group spokeswoman Radka Miloševská, explaining the AGEL’s involvement in the project.
Contribution to the region, nation, and all of Europe
The founding members of the consortium include the Olomouc Region Innovation Centre, which will primarily focus on identifying the needs of potential clients in the field of digitisation and mediating contacts for experts, and Econet Openfounding, which offers extensive foreign experience with digital innovation hubs and cascade financing.
“The focus of this hub on digitisation and innovation in healthcare will be beneficial not only for our region, but also for the entire Czech Republic, and I believe that over time also for the whole of Europe. The coronavirus crisis has clearly shown that we cannot do without digitisation and innovation in healthcare, without telemedicine, and without the correct interpretation of health and hygiene data. I believe that the DIGI2Health hub will be the place where innovation, digitisation, and support for start-ups and small and medium-sized companies will have optimal conditions for growth. I believe this mainly because I know the founding partners and I know that these are top institutions – not only nationally but also internationally,” concluded Olomouc Region Vice-Governor Pavel Šoltys, who specialises in regional development and European projects.
The newly created Digital Innovation Hub DIGI2Health is part of an emerging network of centres enabling the digitisation of small and medium-sized enterprises and public administration with the use of knowledge and research findings of universities, large companies, and other entities across science disciplines. This network based on mutual cooperation is the result of the European Union’s Digital Europe programme which aims to support the digital transformation of European society and economy.
Further information on the DIGI2Health project is available at www.digi2health.cz.