01 March 2021
Medical informatics – a chance for the Montenegrin economy

Medical informatics contributes to the improvement of health services while reducing their costs. This was assessed at a meeting held at the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro on 16 February. It was concluded that Montenegrin companies from the information and communication technology sector could find a niche for further development in medical informatics. This event was held within the PHASE project - Promoting e-Health in cross-border Areas by Stimulating local Economies.

The Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Clinical Center of Montenegro, as well as the partners from Italy and Albania, is implementing PHASE project, funded by the European Union within the IPA CBC Italy - Albania – Montenegro program.

The goal of the PHASE project is to create an ecosystem of policies, practices and tools that will act as a stimulus to the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the health sector and e-Health; strengthen the creation and development of digital micro, small and medium enterprises in the e-Health sector by providing non-financial services; strengthen the competencies of small and medium enterprises, raising awareness both in the public sector and among citizens on e-Health issues in the cross-border area; promote cross-border cooperation between private and public actors through the creation of a transnational network; and improve the overall health and quality of life of citizens in the cross-border area by using information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase the self-management of health care and disease.

Tanja Radusinovic, the Director of the Sector for Projects at the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, pointed out the role of this business association in encouraging small and medium enterprises to get involved in creating solutions and applications for healthcare improvement through e-Services, making it more accessible to every individual.

“This improves public and private health services, and contributes to strengthening the innovation and competitiveness of SMEs working in the fields of digital technologies and traditional health services”, Radusinovic said.

According to her, one of the project activities of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro was the preparation of the Analysis of the healthcare system in the field of e-Health, which includes best practices, territorial healthcare services, legal framework and mapping of SMEs operating in the e-Health sector.

Stefan Jovanovic, Project Coordinator at the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, explained that PHASE is focused on the development of e-Health. This is recognized as an integral part of the overall healthcare system, but additional efforts and activities are required to achieve significant progress. The development of such a sector will benefit the whole area covered by this project, not only to improve public and private health services. Also, it could contribute to strengthening the innovation and competitiveness of SMEs working in the fields of digital technologies and traditional healthcare services.

“The basic idea is to identify, create and develop a community of that already work or are willing to do business in the area of e-Health. For that purpose, business partners (Chambers of Commerce from Italy, Albania and Montenegro), carry out specific activities in order to stimulate interest in this area among their members and promote partnership at the local and cross-border level”, Jovanovic said.

Prof. dr Ivana Ognjanovic, external consultant and youth manager at the European Federation of Medical Informatics (EFMI), presented the possibilities of cooperation between the business and healthcare sectors in the field of e-Health, with a focus on successful comparative practice from Estonia, Great Britain, Portugal and Denmark. According to her, the examples given by these countries proves the significant improvement of the healthcare services provided to their citizens and reduced costs. Given examples of usage of medical informatics show that this is a process that needs to be approached in a systematic way.

The field of medicine is an exceptional opportunity for the economy, but the question is how much capacity there is in Montenegro for innovation in this area. Good results, among other things, depend on the role of the educational system, the level of digital literacy, the readiness of healthcare actors to use innovative services, etc.

The PHASE project ends in June 2022.