In autumn 2015, as the political agreement on nationwide deployment of telemedicine for people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) became a reality, I said that "Denmark has now also moved up in the international league of healthcare IT." Obviously such a promotion is followed by some reflections on how to cope with the new task we now face.
Northern Jutland shows the way
I cannot help but think of the stalwart North Jutlanders from Hobro, who last year became Denmark's darlings as they - with simple solutions, hard work and above all cooperation - managed to be remain in Danish football's finest football league. Despite all experts' predictions of their downfall.
Also in telemedicine Northern Jutland has led the way with the Telecare Nord project which has set a precedent for the deployment of telemedicine for COPD patients. The project was based many of the same virtues as the Hobro football team. As in the football success in the Danish Super League, simple solutions, hard work and above all cooperation have paid off in bringing telemedicine to COPD patients.
We should not make it harder than it needs to be
With nationwide telemedicine, we have put a huge ship at sea and we have to recognise the extent of the project. It is not an easy task and therefore we must - to put it in good north Jutlandish "not make it harder than it needs to be". We should make use of the experiences gained in the Telecare Nord project. And although there must be room for local adaptation, we should not re-invent the wheel in each of the 98 municipalities when deploying telemedicine. That would jeopardise both the quality and the economics of the project.
Calculations show that it makes economic sense to disseminate telemedicine. The big economic gains we cannot deliver immediately. But the experiences that are now being gained across the country will pave the way for both better and cheaper digital welfare in the future.
More of a collaboration project than an IT project
It is important to have an eye for the key challenges of the project. Telemedicine is based on IT, but it is not the Telecom kit that poses the challenge - the challenge is cooperation. 98 municipalities, five regional programmes, a joint government portfolio steering committee and many curious citizens must work together to make it hang together. It is a great and exciting task.
And so we're back at Hobro Football Club .. Currently, they are not doing so well in the league table. But they continue to believe in simple solutions, hard work and cooperation. We should stick to the same sort of approach when we meet resistance and when we have to keep many balls in the air at once.
I wish all the parties behind the nationwide dissemination of telemedicine best of luck. Nationwide telemedicine for people with COPD should be implemented by the end of 2019. In the Agency for Digitisation sits a joint government secretariat with staff from both the Agency and the other parties. The Secretariat shall service the portfolio steering committee responsible for monitoring the implementation across the country. The Agency for Digitisation will do everything we can for the project to succeed. I am sure that with Northern Jutland role models - both on and off the football pitch - we will reach the goal together.