The SocKETs project is developing six case studies – called SocKETs Labs – to exploit the potential of co-creation in enhancing the innovation process and aligning innovation to societal needs, with a specific focus on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs).
This blog issue is focused on the Bulgarian lab led by the Centre for Research and Analysis. It deals with KETs-based innovation to develop eHealth applications towards societal benefits.

The report identified some of the most relevant barriers and challenges to the introduction of technological innovation in eHealth:

  • Gaps and uncertainites concerning norms and regulations for ethical issues and personal data collection and protection;
  • Limited innovation culture and digital literacy of both professionals and citizens;
  • Fragmentation in the eHealth innovation system, lack of nomenclatures and standards;
  • Limited attention to sustainability aspects of existing innovative initiatives
  • Lack of reliable data and information sources on the field; voicing of controversial information; distrust in the health system and medics;
  • Scepticism with respect to innovation from all stakeholders.

From the point of view of the interviewees, the opportunities of new technologies in the eHealth systems are outstanding. The use of KETs applications and devices throughout the chain of medical products and services will introduce efficiency, time-saving, accessibility, equality, affordability and better quality of life.

A number of KETs have been outlined for eHealth applications:

  • ICT, including applications such as Telemedicine, Health online Portals, Virtual reality;
  • IoT (Internet of Things), to collect and store data from different types of sensors and for application in remote monitoring devices;
  • Advanced analytics and algorithms (e.g. AI, machine learning, deep learning). Analytics are the new trend in digital health, able to transform data into knowledge, insights, evidence of value and impact that informs new models of care within a digitally-enabled environment. Significant applications include Electronic Health Records (EHRs), Personal Health Records (PHRs) can be filed here.

The stakeholders of the innovation eco-system to engage in the co-creation process include:

  • Research institutions , such as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and its ICT institutes, and Medical Universities,
  • Public bodies , such as the Ministry of Healthcare, hospitals, clinics
  • Business – start-ups, ICT – IoT – AI companies producing/launching software, platforms; manufacturers – producers of medical devices, wearable devices, clothes;
  • Industry and sectoral associations, tech parks, clusters;
  • Non-governmental organizations – doctors’ and medical personnel associations, patient organizations , NGOs specialized in personalized medicine and eHealth and others.

The most relevant outcomes of the co-creation process that we expect are to increase awareness on the importance of KETs and their role in eHealth development and implementation; to involve patients and professionals in the “design, development and testing phases” of new eHealth technologies; to inspire development and innovation ideas for the benefit of the participating stakeholders and the broader public.