The Serbian SocKETs Lab

eHealth is the application of information and communication technologies in the field of health care. Although systemetically supported, eHealth in Serbia is still burdened with challenges characteristic of developing areas that depend on the application of new technologies, as well as on the understanding and active participation of decision makers.

The Center for the Promotion of Science (CPN) formed SocKETs Lab – a group of representatives of telemedicine companies, clinics, patient associations, educational and scientific research institutions, media, but also legal experts and citizens – who discussed challenges and possible solutions related to eHealth. 

The social engagement of SocKETs Lab is an example of good practice – how different stakeholders can function as a harmonious team through co-creation. This initiative is also a framework for future cooperation based on responsible research and innovation, and corporate social responsibility.

1. Application of new technologies in eHealth

Software and devices used in eHealth can be categorized by the types of technologies they are based on, but also by the purposes they are used for. Their application is used for disease prevention, health monitoring or rehabilitation of patients, but also for performing operations, as well as in education. The benefits from the implementation of modern technologies in medicine are not only for end users – patients, but also for doctors and medical workers, as well as the health system itself. Doctors are enabled to work remotely and have better insight into the health status of patients, while the key benefits of the system are reflected in cost reduction and increased efficiency.

2. Social engagement – examples of good practice

Social engagement in the field of eHealth implies the inclusion of potential users – doctors or patients – in the process of planning or designing innovative products and services. SocKETs Lab members have different experiences in this regard. The patients’ association has conducted a media campaign to improve the treatment of oncology patients. Our scientists have improved the software of existing radiological devices in clinics, developed assistive technologies and designed devices for the rehabilitation of neurological patients. Technology companies have adapted their services to the needs of different target groups – for telemedicine or educational purposes, and especially during the pandemic.

3. Process and tools for co-creation

Telemedicine makes it possible to provide health care remotely. From the perspective of SocKETs Lab members: managers of telemedicine web applications, journalists and citizens as potential users – the key challenge of eHealth turned out to be the issue of being informed about the possibilities and benefits of telemedicine services. In order to meet that challenge, after two online panel sessions, in the form of a World Café workshop, SocKETs Lab has devised a strategy for implementing a socially engaged campaign in the media. The aim of the campaign is to bring the concept of eHealth closer to as many citizens as possible, to introduce them to available telemedicine services, but also to encourage them to engage in the processes of planning or designing future technological solutions in this area.

4. Next scenarios, what to expect in the future? 

Key Enabling Technologies based on artificial intelligence and IoT (Internet of Things) are mainly applied in eHealth, but various nano materials are also often used, as well as sophisticated technologies from the field of electrotechnical and mechanical (bio)engineering. The application of technologies based on augmented reality with numerous examples of successful practice in the field of medical robotics makes eHealth an even more promising economic and therapeutic area in the future. The aim of the SocKETs project is to highlight the (key) role of citizens – as potential users – on whom the technology-shaped future depends as much as on scientific researchers and innovators.