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Is Russia ready for Health 2.0?

The Wikipedia article about health care in Russia starts like this: “Russia has more physicians, hospitals, and health care workers than almost any other country in the world on a per capita basis. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the health of the Russian population has declined considerably as a result of social, economic, and lifestyle changes.”

The Russian health care system has been going through major changes to improve access and quality of delivery. Currently, health care expenditures account for roughly 4% of the GDP (vs. 15.2% in the US) and this number is projected to grow to 10-14% over the next few years. The reform that started in 2009 will continue through 2015. It is expected that about 40% of resources allocated to health care restructuring will be spend on improving infrastructures, including information technology.

Recently I was invited to be part of the conference “Health Plus Technology: Russia and Global Outlook,” jointly sponsored by the Skolkovo Foundation, Life Sciences Angel Network and viamedix. I was part of the opening panel on ‘Technology Intervention to Healthcare,’ which was trying to answer to the following questions: What is fueling the Health 2.0 movement — in the US and globally? What countries/regions are leading the way? And what are the factors and conditions of the industry’s acceleration? The Russian health care system could use a shot of Health 2.0, and so the underlying question was: Is Russia ready for a paradigm shift from top down to bottom up health care innovation? Is Russia ready for Health 2.0?

At the same time, answering a request to produce a Health 2.0 Russia CIS, I took this speaking engagement as an opportunity to meet a few important stakeholders and potential partners. The question ‘Is Russia for Health 2.0?’ took another meaning for me.

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