Implementing digital health: value-based healthcare
The appearance of tools such as TRAK skyrocketed with the arrival of COVID-19 and the threat it posed not only to the health of the population, but also to global health and the national systems in charge of this primary right. And we are not referring to apps intended for the consumer, that is, for patients. But to those tools that, like ours, are at least a class I medical device recognized by the AEMPS.
As Jaime del Barrio indicated in our last TRAKEVENT, the pandemic also showed the enormous inefficiency of the processes that are currently carried out in the health systems. And this makes it necessary to search for the value of the work carried out in health institutions and the optimization of said processes in order to offer better patient care, what the president of the ASD called: value-based health care.
Digital transformation, computerization… are terms that revolve around the same concept, but do not mean the same thing and refer to the need not only for the application of technology in healthcare, but also for a necessary cultural change. They refer to a paradigm shift and a reinvention of the processes that are currently carried out in the health field, but without forgetting that we operate within a scientific-clinical framework.
In this way, it is understood that all this disruptive potential in the form of digital tools applicable to health contributes to the generation of this change in search of greater efficiency, an increase in the quality of treatments and, above all, of the search for the sustainability of the systems.
As? Well, through investment in innovative, effective and useful solutions. And just to shed some light on the latter, let me tell you that of the 320,000 existing applications in the current “marketplace”, approximately 83% are unsuccessful or do not fulfill their ultimate goal, the well-being of the patient. That is why investment and the creation of solutions like ours are necessary, which guarantee their usefulness.
WHO: Global Strategy on Digital Health 20-25
Without intending to mention Rehab 2030 again, more aimed at telerehabilitation, we would like to refer to another budding WHO strategy that works for the correct implementation of digitization in healthcare.
The draft global strategy on digital health has been prepared based on data and resolutions approved by the UN General Assembly and the World Health Assembly. Some reports to highlight, both global and regional, would be the two-part report of the ISO Technical Committee on health informatics and eHealth architecture, the eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) or the current situation and condition of the Member States in terms of digital health, its measures, strategies, policies and investments.
As early as 2005, the World Health Assembly urged Member States “to consider developing a long-term strategic plan for designing and implementing eHealth services […] to develop infrastructures to apply to health information and communication technologies […] and promote the universal, equitable and affordable enjoyment of the benefits derived therefrom”.
The digital transformation of healthcare can be disruptive; However, we have already mentioned in other entries that technologies such as the Internet of Things, virtual assistance, remote supervision, artificial intelligence… within the health ecosystem, giving rise to continuity of care, can improve health outcomes by improve medical diagnoses, therapeutic decisions based on data, digital therapies, clinical trials, etc. They lead us to what we know as digital medicine.
Despite the considerable progress made by some countries, many are still lagging behind and need institutional support to develop and consolidate a strategy for the digitalization of global health and to implement their action plans. But, which are the most advanced countries in terms of digitization?
Digitization in global health: the top of digital health
The United States is the leader in this sector and has registered high growth in the market. Being one of the main technology producers, it is not surprising that digital transformation has also extended to the field of health. It is estimated that in 2024 it could mobilize almost 40% of the world total, some 150,000 million dollars.
Some of the main technology companies in this country (and the world) such as Apple, Amazon or IBM, have opted to invest in digital health.
The Chinese economy is considered the second largest in the world behind the US. It’s a market that has grown at a rapid pace over the past five years, and in 2019, it reached $1.1 billion. The intense state control of the country, the application of digitization and artificial intelligence have made the Chinese economy and society better adapt to the implementation of this methodology.
The growth of companies such as MGI and ICarbonX stands out.
Germany is a world leader in innovation that is also a major player in digital health advancements. An example of this is the company Siemens, which has focused on redirecting its technology towards Artificial Intelligence (AI). The multinational’s intention with these projects is to facilitate the tasks of doctors and diagnostic experts by developing a portfolio of more than 60 AI-powered solutions that automate hospital work.
What is the situation in Spain?
Spain is one of the Western European countries with the most solid public health system and, despite the vast challenges still pending, also one of the most digitized.
In the public sphere, the National Health System is a universal coverage system, but its management is decentralized in the communities, a circumstance that increases the heterogeneity of the various internal systems of the country. Even so, the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index (Desi), carried out by the European Commission, places Spain in second place in the provision of digital public services.