NordicBaltic.Tech tracks the technology response to Covid-19 across the Nordic-Baltic region. The platform is made in partnership between the Nordic Council of Ministers and PUBLIC. In this video interview we spoke to Thorbjorg Vigfusdottir, CEO of Kara Connect. Tune in to hear more about how Icelandic startup Kara has been using their online therapy platform to support patients’ mental health and wellbeing through the pandemic.
Hi, I am Thorbjorg Vigfusdottir the founder and CEO of Kara Connect.
What problem does Kara Connect solve and why did you embark on this venture?
Kara Connect is built as a digital workstation for professionals in health and welfare. Kara is a digital platform that is secure about the ways both professionals and clients Go through signing up, putting themselves on a waiting list, paying, online video meetings and all of the administrative things that the professional needs to do.
So we are providing each and every individual practitioner or a practice a solution that they can use in their own workflow.
We embarked on this journey because we saw that a lot of money was increasingly going towards help but data on the returns and how things progressed were missing. So we started out working with speech therapists and they delivered help online to children and schools. And then we provided a service for these speech therapists to embark on more kinds of therapy and we designed the platform for their needs. So that’s how we started.
We have been challenged by a lot of things, digital change is always difficult but in this sector of health and welfare it is a bit far behind. So we had challenges just designing the idea towards the users. We also had challenges regarding security because people are sceptical of the security of online sessions which is understandable. So we had a whole year of working with government agencies to build a secure flow of things between the client and the professional. And also for the professional and the payment systems involved and how the data was kept and the security of the data.
How has Kara adapted to face new challenges?
We have adapted by listening. We listen to the voices of those that are asking questions that they are worried about as well as the government and lawmakers. During Covid-19 we adapted, we had already set up most of the things that were needed to help professionals go online.
Has the demand for online therapy changed since the pandemic started?
We saw 16 fold increase in sign up. Most of the enterprises that came on, charities and practices, were concerned about security and at this point Kara Connect is the only platform that is securely tested to the directorate of health in Iceland. The pandemic which is not gone yet is providing a lot of change in therapy and all kinds of services.
Future-thinking leaders see that this has implemented a change of thinking which is helpful for the change of digitalisation in general. So they are using the opportunity to implement further and asking for better on-borarding services from us which we are adapting to. So the demand has definitely increased, we are focused on helping the professionals do online services in their own temple and comfort zone. So we are trying to talk about etiquette and what the challenges and benefits are.
There are many benefits for the client of course. We are little by little getting them to trust how the flow changes from being face to face to online. Which I think and the Kara Connect as a team thinks is the most important part of digitalising therapy.
Looking forward, what are your plans for the future?
Looking forward we are a software as a service platform. We want to be a global option for all kinds of professionals that meet their clients repeatedly. We are planning on expanding, now we are in Denmark and in Ireland and we hope to expand to bigger markets in the next two years coming. We are here if anyone wants to know more just go to karaconnect.com or direct emails to us from the webpage.