Jaanika Jelistratov has worked in the field of occupational health and safety for 10 years, and for the last 3 years she has been building a platform called VITS, where companies can manage their own occupational health and safety matters. Having already graduated from the Tartu Health Care College as a health protection specialist, Jaanika is now pursuing a master’s degree in digital health at the Tallinn University of Technology. During the coronavirus pandemic, she has been living, working, and studying in her hometown of Haapsalu.
What exactly is digital health?
Leaving aside the official definition, in my opinion, digital health means using ICT solutions for the more efficient prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases, thereby ensuring a more efficient healthcare system. I am of the opinion that our current healthcare system is not efficient, and although we have made decent progress in regards to digital health, we still have a long way to go.
What attracted you most to this programme?
Obtaining a master’s degree was not really a plan I had from the get-go. I said to myself that I would only do it if I found something that truly interests me. My daily work pertains to occupational health and safety, and I believe that, for each of us, our work should be arranged in such a way that we still have some vitality and joy left in us after we retire. I have always been interested in health and healthcare. When I found this programme, I was excited by the fact that it would allow me to learn about what a forward-looking healthcare system looks like as well as to have a say in the matter myself and influence it in a positive way.
What has been the most fascinating subject for you and why?
It’s hard to say, honestly. The whole first semester was very exciting. Perhaps two of my favourite subjects were ‘Basics of e-Health’ and ‘Health Policies’. Firstly, because the lecturers had structured their subjects in a very exciting and engaging way, and secondly, because of what I learned about our belief that we set a good example as a country in the field of digital health. That we possibly do not know as much as we should about where this success stems from and where we still have a lot of room for improvement. That is what I learned in ‘Basics of e-Health’. ‘Health Policies’, meanwhile, taught me why it is difficult to drive changes in healthcare and what should be considered when you wish to do so.
All of the technical subjects are exciting, too, actually; they just require more effort to grasp.
How has the digital revolution affected healthcare?
I would say that the most obvious development has been the improved availability of health data and various research results. The days of having to bring your medical history along with you on paper when going from one doctor’s office to another or having to tell your story all over again to each doctor have become a thing of the past. Likewise, in the past, you would have had to wait in the telephone queue for hours in order to schedule a coronavirus test or find out the result.
What is something interesting you have learned during your studies that everyone else should also know?
One thing that was fascinating to learn about was what kind of healthcare financing systems exist in the world and what the benefits and downsides of each of them are for the functioning of the healthcare system. Personalised medicine is another very interesting topic: that in the future everyone might be monitoring their own health with various digital devices, which means we will be taking more responsibility for and control over our own health.
Digital health solutions are more important than ever. In addition to an ageing population, we need to adapt to the ongoing epidemic. As a result, the role that digital technologies play in healthcare is increasing, helping to deliver remote treatment, prevent diseases, analyse big data, and predict future health risks. Smart digital health technologies help to make healthcare more effective and accessible. TalTech’s Digital Health study programme is aimed at training healthcare change leaders: people who know how to develop and successfully deploy new digital healthcare technologies. The international programme provides students with interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in innovation and the implementation of digital solutions. This is where new technology start-ups and cutting-edge research are born. Our graduates have gone on to found businesses, pursue a career in research, or work at start-ups, healthcare institutions, or the public sector. Our graduates are united by the mission to make health care future-proof through smart digitisation! The programme is taught in English. View the programme here: taltech.ee/en/hct