December 4, 2023

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System sustainability includes integrating digital health

System sustainability includes integrating digital health

Opening from AI, to the Metaverse, telemedicine, virtual reality, cybersecurity challenges, value-based healthcare, or digital skills. As Jaime del Barrio, President of the Association for Digital Health (ASD), explains, “For people working in health, digital transformation means uncertainty, and we need to train and improve our digital skills.” However, as José Luis Diez, Senior Health Advisor at EY, explains, “Without digital health there is no sustainability, and the sustainability of the system depends on our ability to define and implement digital health.” According to this expert, the digital transformation must pass Transforming the healthcare model itselfand intelligent exploitation of health data and interoperability. However, the key is to modify the care process using technology, not use technology to continue doing the same thing. Likewise, Diez insisted that one of the current shortcomings lies in… Training of professionals and patients. “All this that is being developed, if the professional does not know how to use it, and the patient does not understand it, is of no use.”

European challenges of digital transformation

For his part, David Novello, Head of Data and Digital Health at the European end of the World Health Organization, expanded the vision to include not only Spain, but also the data currently managed on the European continent, according to surveys conducted in its 53 countries. Hence, he highlighted ideas such as that 83% of countries reported having a digital health strategy. But the problem is that many of these strategies have not been put into practice. And those who have done this do not evaluate how this implementation was carried out. In reality, Only 19 countries out of 53 have investment appraisal alliances In digital health. In line with previous presentations, Novello insisted that another big problem is that neither professionals nor patients are prepared for this digital transformation. Hence, only half of the countries have digital literacy policies. The positive point is that progress has been made in enacting legislation that supports these operations, as 91% of countries have some legislation in this regard.

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Digital mental health and value-based digital health

Regarding more specific challenges, Lucia Halti, Director of the Chair for Innovation and Digital Mental Health at Pontificia Comillas University ICAI-ICADE, presented some Digital mental health keys. It is a concept that could be essential in the face of the increase in mental illness and the lack of resources, to accommodate this demand, but is not currently defined as such. In fact, Halti noted that while this type of strategy has not been developed in the healthcare setting, private companies have seen an increase in startups focused on creating apps around mental health. What may seem like an opportunity is a problem, as the vast majority do not have scientific backing and their market model, based on user attraction, goes against the idea of ​​mental health, which is about the patient managing themselves to be able to do so. “To release him.” However, there are initiatives in countries like Germany where there are apps with proven scientific evidence that help improve depressive disorders and which the primary doctor can currently prescribe, just as they would prescribe medication. On the other hand, the other main concept was the concept Value-based digital health. In this regard, Marisa Merino, Director of the International Conference on Digital Health, explained that it is necessary to stop thinking only about health standards such as cholesterol or sugar, but rather think about everything that affects the patient. “And all this taking into account the costs needed to make the system sustainable.” This is how he brought to the alliance concepts such as “right care”, which involves working with the best available evidence, generating more benefits than harms, and from a cost-effective point of view. “Between 25 and 33 percent of everything we do is useless, of little value, and can sometimes be harmful, no matter the country in the world.” In this sense, it is essential that digital health initiatives do not make the same mistake and add real value to clinical practice.

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