Founded in 2015, Swedish KRY (known in LIVI in the UK and France) operates both digitally and on the ground in five European markets. With 500 staff members and close to 2000 clinicians within its own service, KRY is the largest digital healthcare provider in Europe. Johannes Schildt, CEO and Co-Founder of KRY, sees a ‘fastforwarding’ of a megatrend against the backdrop of the Covid-19. Efforts that originated in Sweden are now emerging across the globe to digitalise healthcare.

‘During this crisis, you have more people realising that: ‘Wait a minute. This thing that the Swedes have been doing for some time now – it may not be a bad thing after all.’

Covid-19 specific initiatives: CareConnect and Covid-19 Symptom check

In response to the crisis, KRY has launched two Covid-19 specific initiatives. The first is Care Connect – a free, scaled-down version of KRY’s existing healthcare platform. The platform enables European healthcare professionals to see and treat their patients remotely via video. With digital tools, health workers can offer services to citizens without risking the spread of disease at clinics. ‘It makes no sense for patients to go to a practice if it can be avoided’.

The second initiative is a Covid-19 ‘symptom check’ feature within the KRY platform. The feature enables home monitoring of Covid-19 positive patients during quarantine. It also serves to offload traffic from heavily stretched support channels such as government landlines. By working closely with major healthcare providers, KRY can support citizens remotely and offer up-to-date information and advice. ‘It’s a huge responsibility. No one is ever prepared for a crisis, but we are in a good position to help.’

From remote care to mental health services

With several European countries in lock-down, the response to Covid-19 has become dual in nature. Self-isolation prompts not only the potential need for remote care but also for access to digital mental health services. Traditionally, patients in Sweden are required to request a referral via their local GP. With KRY, patients have instant or same-day access to a psychologist. In digitalising a healthcare system, Schildt emphasises the importance of addressing the needs of patients in the early part of a negative curve. ‘It’s about making the healthcare system proactive and keeping people healthy’.

Old frameworks in the new digital reality

Platforms such as KRY draw attention to a discrepancy between outdated reimbursement systems and the new, digital reality. In the old, highly-localised domestic framework, a doctor would reside in a single clinic and attend only to patients within a particular proximity from this clinic. In the new reality, digital healthcare providers such as KRY run tests remotely and send medicine directly to the home of the patient. Notably, KRY has even seen an uptake across generations, including what Schildt describes as the ‘new old population’.

The surge in adopting digital tools among healthcare providers suggests potential for services to digitalise ‘at an unprecedented speed’. However, Schildt adds that nothing is a given. ‘There are different levels of maturity in different markets, and various domestic regulatory borders prevent us from delivering a mass-market solution and even nationwide support.’

Across borders: a European model for digital healthcare

KRY operates in five different European markets, but Care Connect is currently being deployed globally in ten different languages. For Schildt, overcoming domestic barriers aligns with the establishment of a fully European model. ‘In Europe, the quality of care is generally high, but access can be difficult’. Lack of access is partly due to the immense pressure on primary care and the subsequent spillover effect in emergency care. By pooling resources digitally, healthcare providers can equalise access and offer services to patients across the country – and across borders.

‘Why shouldn’t we be able to scale resources between countries within the European Union? Then we can really get together and help out. We need all the help possible.’

Read more about KRY Care here: https://www.kry.care/

Read more about KRY COVID-19 Symptom Tracker here: https://www.kry.se/din-halsa/symptomkoll/