Every prolific project deserves an equally prolific conclusion. The COOP4HEALTHCARE project planned to conclude its successful run with an exciting meeting in Klagenfurt, Austria, spanning an afternoon in late March 2020 organized by the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS). Invitations had already been sent out – but then Corona happened. With restrictions on events and travel put in place by both the Slovenian and Austrian governments, realizing a cross-border conference with up to 80 people became an impossibility. So, with a heavy heart the event in March had to be cancelled and planning was put on hold. But not for long! Soon the organization team set its mind on reconceptualizing their project’s concluding meet-up in the form of an online event. Microsoft Teams was chosen as the most suitable platform, invitations were re-sent and finally, the COOP4HEALTHCARE Online Final Event took place on 7 May 2020 between 14:00 and 16:00.
A total number of 44 participants from diverse backgrounds, such as SMEs, institutions of higher education or public administrations, were presented with a program chock-full of exciting and innovative ideas and technical solutions. After a short presentation of the day’s agenda by moderator and co-organizer Sandra L. Lattacher (CUAS), the proverbial floor was given to Daniela Krainer, who is responsible for the COOP4HEALTHCARE project on the part of the project’s lead partner CUAS. She gave a warm WELCOME to all present and stated that with a lot of hard work and dedication, many pilot projects had been triggered, started and finalized in the preceding two years, always with one main goal in mind: the provision of high-quality healthcare for all. However, already at the start of the project in 2018 it had been obvious that the work would not be done after two years. Therefore, this day’s event would not only finalize the project but also be the start of a Healthcare Think Tank, which is set to meet biannually in order to discuss hot topics and issues related to healthcare in the cross-border region.
After handing back over to moderator Sandra L. Lattacher, she gave the audience a short INTRODUCTION to the COOP4HEALTHCARE project, including a listing of all its partners: University of Applied Sciences Burgenland (AT), Graz Ragnitz Private Hospital (AT), evolaris next level GmbH (AT), University of Ljubljana (SL), Technology Park Ljubljana Ltd. (SL), Innovation Technology Cluster (SL) and Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (AT, Lead). She also described the project in impressive numbers: Over the course of 2 years, 7 partners collaborated with 9 European mentors to kick-off 21 pilot and demonstration projects which were able to provide > 5,000 people with improved health services. Overall, 60 institutions were involved, and 3 public events as well as 3 policy learning labs were organized. A roadmap 2020-2026 had been established and 42 pilot and demonstration projects are planned during its run. One of the highlights of the project’s two-year run was one of its public events, the Smart Living Forum 2019 taking place in the scope of that year’s Innovation Congress in Villach, Austria. Researchers and institutions active in the field of smart living were invited to present their latest findings to an international audience. All accepted and peer-reviewed short papers are in the process of being printed in the form of a proceedings book at the time of writing.
Next up was the first SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION of the day. Robert Ofner, junior researcher at CUAS’s School of Management, gave a highly interesting insight into Interregional Challenges and Opportunities in Healthcare, taking a closer look at similarities and differences of Slovenian and Austrian health statistics and the countries’ healthcare systems. The second spotlight presentation by Simona Hvalič Touzery, assistant professor at University of Ljubljana, addressed Outcomes of the Use of Different Functionalities of Telecare Solutions on Slovenian Family Carers of Older People, highlighting the many positive (psychological) effects telecare solutions can have.
After a 10-minute break, it was time for the LIGHTNING DEMOS. Three success stories of telehealth applications in the cross-border region were presented in the span of 15 minutes. First up was Julia Aldrian from Exthex, an Austrian SME. She presented EMMA, a voice-controlled assistance system primarily aimed at older people who want to maintain their independence and autonomy. Next was Christian Kittl from Evolaris, an Austrian Innovation Center, who presented the company’s Evocall Medical solution which comprises video assistance via smart glasses, smartphone or mobile device deployed in the cross-border region. Finally, Elena Nikolavčič from Telekom Slovenije presented a smart system of integrated health and care at a distance.
Then it was time for the final and most exciting point on the agenda: kicking-off the HEALTHCARE THINK TANK. This format is meant to serve as a space for discussion with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare services in both Slovenia and Austria. Participants of the Healthcare Think Tank’s leadoff session, which was moderated by Daniela Krainer, were Gabriele Hagendorfer-Jauk, university lecturer at CUAS with a focus on qualitative social research and gerontology, Gregor Cuzak, co-creator and co-organizer of HealthDay.si, the Slovenian eHealth ecosystem, Drago Rudel, CEO of MKS d.o.o., an SME specialized in telecare solutions for frail and disabled people living at home, and Uli Waibel, general secretariat of AAL Austria. All four participants contributed highly interesting points to a very fruitful discussion about the challenges of ensuring high quality care for all in the future and of implementing innovative healthcare solutions in the cross-border region.
To round off the day, both Daniela Krainer and Sandra L. Lattacher expressed a standing invitation to all present to join the Healthcare Think Tank, which is set to meet biannually to discuss the most pressing issues in healthcare and healthcare services.
Download section for our readers:
The 2020-2026 Roadmap for Integrated Health Solutions – the long-term strategic outcome of the COOP4HEALTHCARE project, which will be used to coordinate the development of future activities while the performing the evaluation and improvement of the pilot projects, taking into account stakeholder perspectives in order to generate long-term, sustainable collaboration beyond the official project life time.