Medical students see innovation as a solution to the bottleneck issues facing medicine

27 August 2020

President of the Estonian Medical Students’ Association Helen Kasemaa and Treasurer of the Estonian Medical Students’ Association Neeme Ilves explain why medical students are interested in innovation and why they decided to join the Connected Health Cluster.

According to Kasemaa and Ilves, the Estonian Medical Students’ Association (EstMSA) primarily expects the cluster to allow them to have a say in things and be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to deciding how and in which direction medicine might change and which technological solutions might prove useful. “We hope,” say Kasemaa and Ilves, “to be given the chance to take part in various events that address the connections between medicine and technology and innovative solutions to problems in the medical system. Our members include many young and enthusiastic students who are interested in the innovative side of medicine and want to seek different solutions. Joint discussions and events are another way to reach various technological solutions that would help us as an association move forwards with our agenda and secure sustainability, even when the world is facing a crisis and the solutions and courses of action applied in the past no longer prove efficient.”

Students admit that in some ways, medicine is extremely conservative and will likely remain so to an extent. However, they still see room for innovation. “There are areas that work just as they are,” say Kasemaa and Ilves, “areas that have already been improved on and areas where change is absolutely necessary. In the latter case, there are either not enough good solutions, dedicated people and financial resources or something else is lacking. Medical students see the challenges and also want to find solutions.”

As today’s students are young people who have had close contact with various technological solutions from a young age, they can see how those solutions could be applied in medicine and also know which limits to push and where those limits could be taken even further.

“95% of people have some type of smartphone on them,” they highlight, “but the information held on those devices is not used to prevent illnesses. For example, monitoring activity levels and giving recommendations based on step counting; detecting breathing anomalies and pauses during sleep that have a significant impact on our quality of sleep; filling in surveys on health and mental health that give a better overview of the person and allow us to take action sooner if anything troubling appears.”

EstMSA does not include every single medical student, but members regardless feel that they will soon introduce a great number of future doctors to the medical system who have their own vision of how medicine should work and are not willing to tolerate the problems that have persisted over the years. “Medicine and technology are becoming increasingly more entwined,” stress Kasemaa and Ilves, “new solutions replace old ones and we hope that young students can have a say in the changes that lie ahead and provide input as to what the medical system might look like by the time they enter it as practicing doctors. For this reason, we want to provide our members with an environment in which they can think and talk about medicine, technology and innovation and help shape the future of Estonian medicine.”

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