Test beds where hospital premises are replicated for health care device testing purposes, have become common facilities in the Nordic university hospitals. Test beds serve both companies and health care professionals hoping to test the suitability of their innovative health care ideas or devices.
At its best, test beds provide health technology companies and startups means to faster product development times and access to wider markets and improved implementation of the solutions, which truly are needed in the hospitals.
“The size of market for a specific health care product is limited. Nordic cooperation has helped us to widen our contacts to other Nordic countries, and to find potential new customers,” says Mikko Savola, CEO of Monidor. Monidor´s novel intravenous therapy solution was one of the solutions tested in collaborative network of Nordic University hospital test beds formed in the Nordic Test Beds project. Currently the company operates in Finland but will probably enlarge its operation to other countries.
15 cases evaluated and tested in the Nordics
In the project, 15 healthcare solutions were selected for further evaluation and testing in suitable test beds in a collaboration network of Nordic hospital test beds, including the university hospitals of Aalborg (Denmark), Lund (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Oulu (Finland) and Uppsala (Sweden).
“The solutions tested range from simple hang-on box for patient's personal belongings to complex diagnostic systems,” project coordinator Kalevi Virta says. “For example virtual reality solution for surgery planning, cast replacement and fast hemolysed blood sample identification tool were tested.”
In addition to decreased development times and costs and enhanced quality of the products, the long-term goal of the project has been to create common Nordic practices for health care test bed activities.
“Clear rules would make it lot easier for companies to test their products. Both companies and patients benefit in the long run”, says Virta.
The project partners now invite other Nordic actors working on Nordic health care test beds to join collaboration around Nordic health care test beds.
The project has resulted in a user guide on how to assess value and benefits of innovation, an evaluation of the benefits of cooperation between Nordic test beds within health care, and guidelines for testing in clinical environments.
“The report on the evaluated benefits of health care test bed collaboration, Health Innovation Assessment Tool and guidelines for testing created in the project are freely available. I think these are useful tools for both health professionals and companies in the field”, says Virta.
The Nordic Test Beds project has joined experiences and know-how of Nordic university hospitals and innovation centers in order to create an efficient Nordic test bed cooperation ecosystem and common best practices. The project has evaluated or tested 15 concrete health care product and service idea test cases in five Nordic university hospital test beds.
Developing a Nordic ecosystem for health innovation
The project is one of the seven projects funded under the Innovative Nordic Health and Welfare Solutions call that was launched in 2014. The aim of the call was to unite and strengthen efforts across the Nordics to develop a Nordic ecosystem for health innovation and create opportunities for Nordic businesses through a closer connection between developers, demanders and test environments.
The call is part of the lighthouse project Innovative Nordic Welfare Solutions initiated by the five Nordic ministries of business through the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Business and Innovation Policy 2014-2017. The project shall contribute to making the Nordics a leading region in developing and exporting innovative health and welfare solutions.