Over the past couple of months Optimov has been a learning playground for 2 groups of students, from CBS and University College Copenhagen. The innovative field (MedTech) we operate in is interesting for both healthcare students, but also business students. In the following article, we are going to share the experience of 2 students from the Nutrition and Health education from University College Copenhagen.
Practical Placement in a MedTech Startup
Anne and Christian had their internship with us for a couple months. They heard of Optimov from the university and thought that “the project sounded very interesting, innovative and relevant to a lot of socio-economic discussions/challenges in regard to our health care system. COPD is one of the biggest burdens of the Danish healthcare system”. Anne believes that medtech such as telerehabilitation can be of great use when solving some of these challenges and she gladly took upon the challenge to get to know one of the tools.
During their internship the students were working with nutritional e-learning content (video format). “The material we made for the platform was not individualized to one certain user’s needs. We chose topics that are particularly relevant to COPD patients and their daily challenges, and tried to create general information, which can be used for a larger group of people. This included topics such as: fruit and vegetables recommendations; anti-inflammatory diet; protein guide; specific guides for both weight loss, maintenance of weight and weight gain”. The quality of the created videos definitely exceeded our expectations. Anne and Christian impressed us with their work and professionalism and we are going to use their videos in future tele-rehab programs. You can see one of the videos below.
It is great that it was a win-win situation for both us and the students both in terms of going up the learning curve and getting something useful in the long term. Spreading awareness of COPD is another important mission we have been having and were not surprised to learn that “there is not much attention on the nutritional aspect of COPD-treatment in general, even though it is such an essential part of healthy living” (Anne). Just like any other needs, “nutritional needs are very individual” (Anne), and should be addressed when treating COPD.
We were also very pleased to hear that both of them found the program really user-friendly. Anne and Christian share that after a quick introduction, they could easily navigate around the system. Anne was also participated in interviewing 8 patients for the project of the CBS students and “from interviews with the patients, I understand that none of the users had any significant difficulties navigating it either”. This is all good news for us and confirm that we are developing the platform in the right way.
When asked what the best part of the platform is, Christian’s opinion was that “it’s a very good thing to have when patients are not coming to the hospital. It definitely has great potential and the more perspectives it covers, the better it will get”. Anne finds best that the opportunity to personalize the rehabilitation in a way that would otherwise take up too many resources. She also adds that “it is really easy to adjust the workout schedule in a way that the patient can decide what time they want to train, for how long and also which exercises they like and are comfortable with. This also goes for educational content”.
Anne’s general impression is that “a platform like Optimov can be a great alternative to traditional rehabilitation, which usually takes place in local hospitals. With a gradually increasing number of elderly people in Denmark, as well as prognosis showing that there will be more citizens living with chronic illnesses in the future, I do think that e-health will play a much bigger role in the future”. This also supports our believe and the faster the current healthcare system adapts to new technologies, the better the treatment will be for the citizens.
However, we agree with Anne that telerehabilitation cannot completely replace traditional treatment, “some citizens will have greater benefit of treatment that is not in a digital form, due to for instance the wish/need for the social aspect or the lack of technical skills. But for many, a tele-solution means flexibility, a feeling of control and also that many more people can receive rehabilitation than now, because of a potentially lower cost (especially if it can be done through the patient’s own touch screen devices in the future).
I also believe that digital services like Optimov could contribute to prevention of exacerbation in some cases. Only around 60% of ambulant patients are referred to rehabilitation in Denmark. Optimov could be an alternative to patients who are not “sick enough” to get referred to rehabilitation. Furthermore, I can see a platform like Optimov as a tool for ongoing treatment and maintenance when the rehabilitation period has ended. It is a great way to keep the new and improved lifestyle going, mostly for patients who prefer to train at home”.
One more recognition of the need for a tool like Optimov. There are so many possible applications for it and so many potential benefits. All of those represent a great drive for our entire team to make the introduction of the innovative MedTech and the traditional healthcare.
Innovation and MedTech Tools at University College Copenhagen
What we found surprising was that it is not just the healthcare system that is a bit behind when it comes to new technologies. The University College Copenhagen is not using such tools either. The lack of those is recognized both by the students and their teacher and they believe that such novelties should be part of the curriculum. Christian thinks that they would definitely benefit of a course teaching them how to use innovative tools, like Optimov. Introducing innovation and cross-functionality to the educational system is the way to go, but unfortunately would take time to implement. We are working hard to make it happen and are lucky to have the support of the students and teacher.
An interesting point was that both students and their supervisor thought that the platform could be used more multidisciplinary, with both physicians, nurse, nutritionists, psychologists, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, etc, all contributing to the content. This is also what Christian would improve in the platform – make it more cross-disciplinary by involving different specialists: “the different specialist have all their strengths and a holistic treatment can give the citizen a better result. The more eyes on the same case, the better the outcome. Health is both physical and mental and if your body is good physically you are also good mentally, most of the time – healthy body – healthy mind. Health should not be seen from one perspective, but as a whole”.
When talking about the future, both students see themselves using digital treatment tools: “depending on what my occupation will be, I can definitely see myself working with digital treatment tools like Optimov. As of now, Optimov is primarily for COPD patients, but I could see a platform like this expand and include different landing pages for different patient groups”.
It has been great to work with the students, see them use our platform, support and challenge our findings, learn a lot and expand their horizons. Opening new research topics and challenging the status quo is another passion of ours, so we will find a way to introduce MedTech innovation and cross functionality to the educational system.