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Health technology meeting

The field of health technology is developing rapidly, setting new premises for development and cooperation at HiOA.

Olav Johan Øye, Jørgen Lie Furuholt Published: Updated:
Gro Jamtvedt og Egil Trømborg

On 16 February, the faculty councils of the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Technology, Art and Design met to discuss common competence and how to contribute to innovation.

‘Egil came to me and said: “We have to collaborate! You have the problems and we have the solutions”,’ says Gro Jamtvedt, Dean at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

‘Therefore, we need to talk to each other and collaborate, despite what I call the “Pilestredet barrier”, referring to the street and the few metres separating our buildings,’ adds Egil Trømborg, Dean at the Faculty of Technology, Art and Design.

Bilde av Erik Fosse

‘Actually, we have a unique opportunity here: We are located close to each other, and few others take the same applied approach as we do.’

‘But it’s not enough for us deans to agree; someone must do the actual work,’ says Trømborg.

‘It’s not like this is something that the two of us came up with on our own. A great deal had already been done before we started,’ says Jamtvedt.

The Faculty of Technology, Art and Design is now in dialogue with potential external partners in the field of technology. They have high hopes for this collaboration, which may also benefit the health field.

Bilde av Tarje Bjørgum i presentasjonen på fakultetsrådsmøtet

The two faculties brought in Erik Fosse, the famous surgeon and Head of Department at the Intervention Centre at Rikshospitalet Hospital, to kick-start the bilateral faculty council meeting.

Fosse praised the initiative, but also urged the parties to be patient.

‘This is not just a perfectly natural partnership. In my opinion, it is also a completely necessary one. It would almost be foolish if it didn’t exist, but be prepared: these things take time,’ says Fosse.

‘It works when you manage to release all the energy that arises from the opposites, the big differences, and channel it into the work; then you can reap huge benefits.’

‘The health service is facing a tsunami of technology that no one has really addressed. We see that patients have great faith in technology. They want the newest and best technology available, and that completely changes the patient flow.’

New technological solutions are changing medical treatment through the use of imaging, digitalisation, IT, miniaturisation and biomolecular medicine.

‘And current developments are largely technological developments rather than the development of drugs,’ Fosse emphasises.

The use of robots and automation will increase, and it is only in recent years that the development has really gathered speed.

Robots are now involved in the treatment in connection with heart surgery, urology and gynaecology, among other areas.

For example, a da Vinci robot enables Orkdal Hospital to treat prostate cancer much more efficiently, giving the hospital a leading position in this type of treatment in Norway.

More patients can undergo surgery in a shorter space of time, at the same time as the newest technology is expensive and will therefore perhaps have to be limited to fewer hospitals.

Fresh thinking is needed as regards teamwork and collaboration on surgery, the division of labour between hospitals and how hospital buildings should be designed.

Technological developments are also changing who does what in a hospital, and Fosse underlines that more dialogue is needed across disciplines and professions.

It is also important to introduce new technology in a safe manner. Keyhole surgery is a common procedure nowadays, and Fosse uses it as an example. When surgeons first started performing keyhole surgery, it caused complications because they were not used to using the equipment.

The potential is huge going forward. Enormous quantities of data processed by computers can make it easier to find good treatment for patients, and the computers are increasingly becoming capable of learning new things.

So what does the digital health revolution mean for HiOA? That was the topic of Tarje Bjørgum’s introduction. He is a Senior Policy Strategist in the area of climate and health in the employers’ organisation Abelia.

Like Fosse, he underlined that a lot has started to happen in the past few years, and he compared the transition we are now facing with the start of the 1900s, when we went from horse-drawn carriages to cars in a relatively short space of time.

Now, an iPhone contains enough computing power to run 120 million 1960s lunar missions, and sensors and other equipment have become much cheaper.

This opens up new possibilities. In many ways, Norway is well prepared for the transition, since we are far ahead in the private use of technology.

In the labour market, digitalisation is less advanced, and the world’s most expensive health service needs modernisation. People want better and longer lives, at the same time as digitalisation and medicine are merging.

This generates a need for new growth industries, and it is also imaginable that health solutions can become an export.

‘The future is created through interdisciplinary cooperation,’ underlined Tarje Bjørgum, like Erik Fosse.

Professions can merge and roles change.

‘A relationship of trust must be created between different professions, and we must find a way to prevent the study programmes from having a conserving effect on developments.’

‘We have bold thoughts about technology, but not about roles. It is easier to speculate about technology that supports today’s tasks than about changing roles.’

When a 3D printer makes food in your kitchen at home, mum and dad are no longer in charge of the kitchen in the same way as they used to be.

Erik Fosse and Tarje Bjørgum’s presentations formed the backdrop for items to be discussed at the faculty council meeting.

What should be the faculties’ goal for collaboration in five years? How can we facilitate development of the partnership, and how can we involve the world around us?

Ongoing projects involving cooperation between the faculties were presented in the form of posters.