The Bennet professorship an investment in health innovation
Through support from the industrialist Carl Bennet, who is the owner of, among other things, the medical technology company Getinge, the so-called Bennet Professorship was established in 2014 with a focus on health innovation. The investment has so far made it possible for Halmstad University to recruit four well-qualified researchers as visiting professors for research in the field.
“To be able to use new technologies in healthcare, we must become experts on what makes people actually use new research results.”
Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for research and doctoral education
Healthcare is, and has always been, facing extensive challenges – an aging population, various chronic diseases, pandemics, changing patient expectations and limited resources. The technical development around data collection, data storage and data processing makes it possible to try to find solutions to these challenges using data-driven methods – so-called information-driven care.
Within the University’s focus area Health Innovation, researchers in healthcare and in artificial intelligence work on common issues, and this is also where the Bennet professors are active.
“The work coincides with the national care reform God och nära vård, which aims to make primary care accessible and adapted to the individual”, says Jens Nygren, Professor of Health Innovation and former Programme Manager for the focus area Health Innovation.
New technology and implementation equally important
The Bennet professorship focuses on how new technology can contribute to better healthcare, and above all on the implementation of innovations.
“The complexity often lies in the system in which the technical solutions are to be implemented. Basically, it is about changing organisations, structures, cultures and hierarchies”, says Jens Nygren and continues:
“Our strength here is that we not only carry out research on the technology itself, but also the socio-technical innovation – that is, how the technology is woven into the rest of care.”
Currently, a framework for the implementation of artificial intelligence in healthcare is being developed.
“It is partly about developing evidence-based support to help businesses implement new solutions, partly about identifying hindering factors, and evaluating the implementation in a meaningful way”, says Jens Nygren.
"The complexity often lies in the system in which the technical solutions are to be implemented. Basically, it is about changing organisations, structures, cultures and hierarchies."
Jens Nygren, Professor of Health Innovation and former Programme Manager for the focus area Health Innovation
“To be able to use new technologies in healthcare, we must become experts on what makes people actually use new research results”, says Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson, Professor of Computer Science and Deputy Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for research and doctoral education.
“There are researchers who have developed very good algorithms for information-driven care, but ten years later have had to realise that these despite this still have not been used. ‘We know that this is better at making diagnoses than the average doctor, so why isn’t it being used?’ they ask themselves”, says Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson, and continues:
“One reason may be that the systems in which they are to be implemented are not particularly changeable, another is that there are agreements linked to healthcare equipment that make it difficult to change working methods or to release the value in research.”
Today, researchers are starting to get access to very large amounts of data through various healthcare facilities. According to Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson, it is precisely this amount of information that means that in the long run, society can become better at providing individually adapted care:
“For example, artificial intelligence can quickly and accurately go through mammography images to identify possible breast cancer, and today there are systems that are said to be better than the best doctor at finding such abnormalities. Even if you have systems that are ‘only’ as good as the best doctor, these can still act as good support in making decisions for doctors.”
According to Jens Nygren, knowledge about the implementation of artificial intelligence in healthcare is still limited internationally:
“Here there is an opportunity to be at the forefront, if universities, healthcare and businesses continue to invest in developing the working methods needed to be able to implement innovations.”
Collaboration the key to success
The foundation for the Health Innovation focus area, which was established in 2014, was laid in the early 2000s. At that time, the Health Technology Alliance was launched in Halland, and here municipalities, regions, and the University together with the business community took a joint approach to innovations in health care. A few years later, the initiative led to the University starting the Health Technology Centre Halland, which then developed into Leap for life – an innovation centre for information-driven care.
In 2021, the research profile Centre for Research on Applied Intelligent Systems in Healthcare (CAISR Health) started, and the following year it was supplemented with the multidisciplinary research programme Information-driven Care (IDC), whose focus is to investigate and develop information-driven care solutions. A large part of the research is carried out in collaboration, for instance with Region Halland.
“The contact we have gained with the AI research and the implementation research conducted at the University is very rewarding. For instance, it enables us to structure data in an efficient way.”
Magnus Clarin, Head of Research and Education at Region Halland
“The contact we have gained with the AI research and the implementation research conducted at the University is very rewarding. For instance, it enables us to structure data in an efficient way”, says Magnus Clarin, Head of Research and Education at Region Halland, and continues:
“I think that we will see a number of concrete results shortly. By bringing together AI researchers, implementation researchers and clinical expertise in multidisciplinary teams, we enable practitioners to create change that contributes to patient and resident benefit.”
Today, Halland is referred to as a forerunner in information-driven care, and Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson hopes that the fruitful collaboration will continue.
“By continuing to work in collaboration with the region, businesses and municipalities, the quality of healthcare can be improved without it having to become more expensive”, he concludes.
Text: Karolina Bergström and Christa Amnell
Photo: Halmstad University