Inside the Minds of Digital Health Innovators: Assoc. Prof. Kalev.

08 Nov 2022 - 3 min read Prof.D.Kalev

We have a purpose – to transform health to a digital future. The only way that we can leave a mark on the world, at the scale that we dream of, is through our clients and partners. Each one of them is an inspiration to us and we want to tell the world why.

We present to you one of the most influential names in oncology in Bulgaria and Europe – assoc. Prof. Kalev. We met him not long time ago, but we knew from the first sight he is an innovator and visionary leader. A medical doctor who has the whole analogue knowledge of his discipline wanted to build a digital solution that enables oncologists to make evidence-based decisions for their patients that results in better care for them. It was a privilege for us to co-create their e-Guidelines digital platform together.

Can MORE Darzalas’ e-guidelines be a step toward global healthcare digitization?

Let’s find out!

Prof. Kalev, why is your organization here today?

The MORE-Darzalas project began in 2010 as an ambitious initiative to compensate for the most sensitive deficits in Bulgarian oncology, namely those fields and functions that are completely neglected by state health institutions. We developed a philosophy that prioritizes expert knowledge and activity over bureaucratic norms, and we set out to cultivate modern, evidence-based oncology thinking.

What kind of impact do you want to have on people’s lives?

MORE-Darzalas and Bulgarian Joint Cancer Network (BJCN) aim to influence, above all, the expert thinking of Bulgarian clinical oncologists. If you look at the published expert documents and conference events from 2010 to 2022, you will notice how the mental models from empirical and narrative (typical of Bulgarian social medicine) are gradually transformed to Western European concepts for evaluating evidence quality and grading recommend ability.

What emerging technologies and trends do you believe will have the greatest impact on healthcare?

Healthcare, in my opinion, requires science combined with spirituality, and spirituality combined with science, i.e. a new common sense, which, of course, cannot be local but must be universal. I’m referring to digital ecosystem technologies that are populated with structured data from real-world clinical practice and machine learning that connect all oncological institutions – research, expert, clinical, administrative, political, and so on. We believe that the digital toolkit for online compilation, updating, and use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines is at the heart of such an oncology ecosystem. As a result, we created and implemented the original MOPE e-Guidelines digital platform in collaboration with BGO Software.

MOPE e-Guidelines are a technology collaboration tool that connects doctors, data, and technology to create scientific medical guidelines.

How would you describe your mission to devote yourself to what you do?

Our mission is motivated by the persistence with which BJCN experts perceive the obvious backwardness of modern Bulgarian oncology, both in terms of organization and the lack of prevention, screening, palliative care, and modern innovations. We believe that our non-governmental expert projects would hasten the adoption of many modern European standards and provide Bulgarian state institutions with ready-made models for political decision-making and financing.

What is the measure of success of your project?

MORE-Darzalas’ oncology ecosystem, like any other, has many parameters for assessing its effectiveness – technological, scientific, medical, educational, social, political, and so on. However, the only metric of its success is the focus on the cancer patient – on his or her personal treatment effectiveness and quality of life.

What solution would you develop if you had an unlimited budget and a 100% success rate?

Without hesitation, I would build a digital comprehensive cancer center, which Bulgarian patients desperately needs. Bulgaria is the only European Union member without such centers, and thus no providers of modern and standardized oncological care. Organizing a center that connects and coordinates Bulgarian clinics and experts in response to European quality and accreditation bodies, based on digital tele oncology principles, would be the most realistic and cost-effective solution for our national circumstances, in my opinion.

What advice would you give to a digital health entrepreneur starting out today?

On one hand, today’s digital health entrepreneur must have the intuition of a “diagnostic” master about the most sensitive areas of healthcare, which cannot and should not function in the traditional manner, and place his creativity there. On the other hand, he must find and attract medical experts with the most unconventional, even extravagant, thinking as consultants who will constantly inspire his visionary direction.

What did you learn from the most difficult challenge you faced while developing your project?

I learned to think with my partner’s thoughts in front of me. After all, in this type of relationship, the highest virtues are curiosity and love for the other person’s thoughts.

What is the most important business compliment you’ve ever received?

“Your idea is brilliant, but no one will buy it.”

More about MORE Darzalas & Bulgarian Joint
Cancer Network (BJCN)

MORE project was founded on the creative energy and collegiality of the most experienced Bulgarian oncologists, it naturally evolved into the Joint Oncology National Network (JNCN) in 2022. It is a cutting-edge horizontal cluster of 18 industry oncology societies and 55 top oncologists.

Assoc. Prof. Kalev is the President
of BJCN & MORE Darzalas

He is an internal medicine, pulmonology, and medical oncology specialist. Long-time lecturer in pulmonary diseases and oncology at the Medical University of Varna, as well as the head of the Medical Oncology Clinic at UMBAL “St. Marina” in Varna. He is currently the Director of the Medical Oncology and Radiation Therapy Department at Varna’s “Dr. M. Markov” Hospital.

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