In the face of the current COVID 19 situation, the digital immaturity of the healthcare system reveals itself. All of a sudden it becomes clear how important networked patient data and the use of digital health services would be to relieve hospitals on site. But why has it been so difficult to implement appropriate digital solutions for our healthcare system while almost all other areas of life from food and transport to clothing and holidays have managed to do just that?
The development of mankind is characterized by new technologies and innovations that changed our lives forever. The turning points in our history are well known and range from the development of simple tools for farming and weapons for hunting, to the invention of book printing, up until the industrial revolutions of past centuries which brought us disrupting technologies such as electricity, mobility, and the internet.
When it comes to our healthcare system science and technological innovations have always been the driver for innovations such as modern sanitation, penicillin, vaccines, and magnetic resonance imaging. With the advances in technology nowadays we can push back the boundaries of diseases even further:
These are just a few technologies that are currently transforming healthcare as we know it. Harnessing these digital technologies is essential if we want to create a future where healthcare is accessible for everyone around the globe and driving incremental value to our medical status. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at WHO cuts to the chase of the matter:
“Such technologies are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity."
The use of digital tools for diagnosis, treatment, and management, for example, has been modest. The electronic medical record (EMR) is still not integrated into routine care. According to the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, usage ranges from just 3 percent in Europe to 35 percent in the United States. The root of the problem is not the technology itself but rather the cultural-mindset, organizational structures, gorvernment regulatory, skilled personnel, and others.
The annually conducted European e-health survey from McKinsey and HiMSS examined the current challenges in digital health per country. The infographic shows the main challenges European healthcare providers have to face in different countries.
@medudoc based on HIMSS Analytics, eHealth Trendbarometer “Annual European eHealth Survey 2019”, published November 2019
Germany and Switzerland state that both struggle with getting sufficient funding for digital innovations as well as having sufficiently skilled employees. Also among the top three challenges, both countries see IT security as a major threat establishing digital systems and products in their daily business. In the Nordic countries as well as in the Netherlands and Italy the challenge of setting up interoperability standards is considered a major barrier of implementing digital tools.
McKinsey conducted research from over 30 countries and refined a set of conditions that can ease the path toward a successful systemwide digital transformation in healthcare.
Although numerous ountries have achieved promising digital-adoption rates in healthcare, the full power of a digital transformation of the sector remains challenging. Health systems have been incapable to meet quality, access, and financial gaps, even as their budgets continue to grow. More determination and effort are required to achieve success. And last but not least to establish strategic long-term digital solutions in healthcare all respective stakeholders have to work collaboratively.
Mona Ciotta is working as Strategic Business Development Manager at the digital health start-up “medudoc” in Berlin. Coming from a digital marketing background she is now working on bridging the digital gap of evolved patient expectations, arbitrary regulations and economical pressured healthcare providers like hospitals and doctors. Through video animation, medudoc digitizes, automates and standardizes the analog and tedious practice of patient education before a medical intervention. You can contact her via mail (email@example.com) and LinkedIn.
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