Reshaping healthcare through technology to deliver more effective and personal care

ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research- second plenary session at ISPOR Europe 2019, "Shaping the Digital Healthcare System," was held this morning in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Healthcare is changing rapidly with this transformation impacting every area of the healthcare system, including its structures, processes, policies, and practices. One projection estimates that in 20 years, 90% of all healthcare professionals will require some degree of digital and genomics skills to work in this future, data-driven healthcare environment. This panel examined how those working in healthcare are adapting to these unprecedented technological developments to deliver more productive, effective, and personal care for patients.

Panelists for this session included:

  • Petra Wilson, Health Connect Partners, FTI Consulting, Brussels, Belgium
  • Suzanne Schrandt, ExPPect and Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Arlington, VA, USA
  • Pekka Kahri, MSc, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  • Thomas Senderovitz, MD, Danish Medicines Agency, HMA Management Group, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Tristan van Doormaal, MD, PhD, Universitätsspital Zürich, AugmedIT B.V, Zurich, Germany

The panel discussed a number of vital issues related to the digital transformation of healthcare. Several topical themes emerged from the dialogue.

It is not "just" about digital

Dr Senderovitz pointed out that digital healthcare is not "just" about digital. Rather, it is about the convergence of a number of key trends, including new digital technology, new and innovative medications, 5G, etc. The human aspect of medicine was also identified as a critical factor that should not be lost with the digital wave. Ms Schrandt stressed that digital information not informed by human input can result in erroneous conclusions and that digital healthcare can never replace human interactions. The issue of value-based healthcare was raised as health systems move away from "paying for a pill" to "paying to keep patients healthy."

Technology development

Dr van Doormaal noted how important it is to define the problems that need to be solved and then to develop the technology to address those problems. Too often technology is developed first, without respect to a potential need. Another issue brought forward was the small number of digital health apps that are actually evidence-based. The lack of a global regulatory framework for digital apps compounds this problem.

The ethics of digital healthcare

A recurring issue throughout the panel discussion was the ethics of digital healthcare. Dr Senderovitz noted the importance of establishing greater regulatory oversight of digital health. Notably, the ethics of patient data is especially critical.

Patients and digital literacy

Patients should be at the center of digital healthcare and Ms Schrandt stressed the importance of involving patients in the development of digital technology, stating that "you can't involve patients 'too early' in the process." It was noted that everyone is a patient or will be a patient as some point in their life-;this impacts us all. The issue of digital literacy was discussed with a caution that we must be careful to not move to a 2 population-type future as digital healthcare progresses-;with one group of patients who are digitally literate and benefit from the technology and another group of patients who are not comfortable with the technology and so do not benefit.

The new (and big) healthcare industry

The panel discussed how big technology companies (eg, Google, Amazon, Apple, etc) that are moving into health could impact healthcare. Dr Senderovitz stated that not every technology company is the same, but he believes that we need better regulation of these companies relating to both healthcare and their potential to "hack democracy." The panel was in agreement that these new players in healthcare will play an increasingly large role.

ISPOR is recognized globally as the leading professional society for health economics and outcomes research and its role in improving healthcare decisions. ISPOR Europe 2019 expects to draw more than 5000 healthcare stakeholders with an interest in HEOR, including researchers and academicians, assessors and regulators, payers and policymakers, the life sciences industry, healthcare providers, and patient engagement organizations.

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