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e-Health in Times of Crisis: How Estonia is using technology to combat COVID-19

COVID-19 has taught the world a number of lessons. Many countries now know that more jobs can be done remotely than originally thought. That creative partnerships between public and private sectors can be hugely beneficial and implemented quickly in times of crises. And that digital access is a utility, on par with plumbing or electricity.

Though here in Estonia, we knew most of those things already. Tallinn was named one of the world’s best places for working remotely last year. Public-private partnerships have been a staple in Estonia’s digital society for almost 2 decades, and the reason for the more than 2,777 e-services currently available. And President Kersti Kaljulaid declared that access to the internet is a human right at last year’s Munich Security Conference. 

But that doesn’t mean Estonians are taking it easy during the current pandemic. In fact, the past 2 months of the emergency situation has brought on a number of initiatives, digital solutions, and platforms that have been useful in combating COVID-19. For a full rundown, we’ve prepared a factsheet with all the ways that Estonia is helping to quell the current crisis. But this article will go a bit more in-depth on a few of the recent changes in the area of e-health, and what benefits they can provide to their users.

Evaluate your risk of infection with the Coronavirus questionnaire from Koroonatest

Koroonatest was launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs. It’s a quick questionnaire that lets users assess whether they are displaying common symptoms of coronavirus. Available in Estonian, English, and Russian, users can answer short questions and share their location with the Estonian Health Board. Koroonatest will then offer recommendations based on the users’ answers as to the next steps. This is an easy way for potential patients to assess their risk, get some much-needed answers about what to do if they are at risk, and helps the Health Board make predictions about the spread of the virus in Estonia.

Get a letter of sick leave without visiting a doctor from TEHIK

In Estonia, the emergency situation was called out on March 12th. And by the 16th of March, the automatic sick leave letter feature was added to the country’s e-health Patient Portal. Launched by TEHIK, the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, in collaboration with Heisi, a software company, this feature allows patients to temporarily open a notice of sick leave themselves. This letter is forwarded to the patient’s employer as well as their GP, who within a week will contact them for a follow-up. Not only does this alleviate stress on health care workers, but it keeps people who might be sick with coronavirus at home and out of the office.

Telemedicine app helps social-distancing with Viveo Health

Viveo Health is a telemedicine startup based in Tallinn. Their app allows patients to quickly connect with health care professionals to get a diagnosis, a specialist’s referral, or e-prescription via a video call. In the wake of COVID-19, Viveo Health raised €2 million in funding for their e-health platform. Modernising medical help via a digital diagnosis helps ensure social-distancing practices, keeps people out of the waiting room, and prevents sick people from putting themselves at risk.

See a transparent overview of the daily COVID-19 situation by Koroonakaart

Created in the Hack the Crisis Garage48 Hackathon by OKEE, Koroonakaart is a virtual map that gives an overview of the COVID-19 situation in Estonia. Updated daily with data from the Estonian Health Board, Estonian Land Board, and demographic data from Statistics Estonia, Koroonakart helps bring citizens up-to-date with current cases of coronavirus. It also provides a transparent view of the amount of administered tests, the number of patients in treatment, and an estimate of active cases, which can further be broken down by county. This app gives a quick summary of the current situation and lets citizens make more informed daily decisions.

These solutions are just a handful of what’s been developed by Estonia’s digital society in just a few short months. They demonstrate how technological innovation can be our biggest ally in times of crises. And even if coronavirus knows no borders, neither does e-health.

Today, e-governance and e-services have become a necessity in every country. e-Estonia Briefing Centre – the gateway to Estonian expertise in e-governance, invites you to connect with the Estonian IT companies directly responsible for the successful functioning of the e-state even during a pandemic. Get in touch with us to set up your custom virtual programme with the best partners you could get: business.e-estonia@eas.ee

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