The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights the potential of technology to accelerate progress, bridge economic and societal divide, and build knowledge societies where high-quality public services can be enjoyed by all. Accordingly, and with healthcare foremost among the critical public services enabled by the deployment of emerging technology, the vision of the Digital Innovation Hub, Its4Health HUB is to support digital transformation of healthcare in Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing about a system that delivers medical services in a manner that is safe, secure, transparent, efficient, and effective.
In its work, the Hub will therefore be guided by the following principles:
1. Accessibility, with universal access to affordable healthcare the paramount consideration;
2. Efficiency, with value for money continuously pursued to minimise wastage and secure the greatest level of care possible; and,
3. Quality, with technology utilised at all levels to ensure optimal health outcomes.
The Hub’s partnership framework, bringing together the University Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, BiH Society for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Institute of Metrology of BiH and the Institute for Standardisation of BiH, pools vast research expertise with industry and policy know-how and experience relevant across all stages of the digitisation process.
In line with its mission and resources, the Hub will provide support to multiple stakeholders, public and private, across the following key service lines:
4. Reinventing business models for service delivery in healthcare
Under this heading, the Hub will stimulate, and meet, provider demand for transformative assistance targeting greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness in service provision, boosting competitiveness, as well as improving the overall quality of both back-office and patient-facing operations. Illustrative activities include awareness raising of benefits and opportunities offered by digitalisation in health; institutional restructuring and workforce development based on comprehensive needs assessments; on-site support for individual SME clients, to include tailored product development in areas such as virtual care, inventory and big data management, and data-based treatments; enabling access to finance for digitalisation; and other areas. These services will also be offered to public sector clients where the potential gains in quality of service and cost-effectiveness are considerably greater.
Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in health
4. Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in health
Here, the Hub will look to spur engagement with healthcare innovation and start-up development across the stakeholder community, while fully acknowledging the barriers to entry for emerging healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators. The focus will be placed on encouraging greater public and private investment in the country’s fledgling medical research community, helping bring viable ideas to maturity, and incubating start-ups emerging from market-ready innovations. This component will rely heavily on both emerging, as well as long-standing partner relationships, with relevant line ministries, international foundations, and other enablers of research and development activities.
5. Supporting laboratory certification, standardisation and innovation
Under this service line, the Lab will offer a host of services to the country’s laboratory and testing facilities, aimed at bringing these facilities into the digital age. This will include support to data digitalisation and management, to include use of big data; access to international certification regimes; reengineering of workflows, processes and structures; and lab automation, among others.
With Bosnia and Herzegovina one of the few middle-income countries not benefiting from a national health digitalisation strategy, the work of the Lab will likely be a hugely significant trial balloon for the coming process of digitising the country’s healthcare sector.