Digital health: Enabler for innovation and foresight… Leave a comment

As the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry emerges out of the pandemic, companies are strenthening their focus on patient centricity. Leaders across the spectrum are refocusing on both new and existing priorities ranging from human capital, research and innovation, and data and digital initiatives to develop a more robust healthcare framework.

While we have spoken of patient centricity across all spectrums of healthcare — clinical trials, drug development, and increasing access to quality medicine — the need to maintain patient focus has never been more pertinent. Patients are looking for ‘value.’ Healthcare is no longer about one-size fits all, asit is now estimated that non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart illnesses, etc. may cost India $4.58 trillion by 2030.

To address this critical situation, digital health initiatives play a crucial role. Digital health connects and empowers people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by integrated, interoperable digital tools, technologies and services to transform healthcare delivery.

Interestingly, the journey to digital health is not new. It was initiated at the 2005 World Health Assembly through resolution WHA58.28 urging member states to “to consider drawing up a long-term strategic plan for developing and implementing eHealth services…to develop the infrastructure for information and communication technologies for health…to promote equitable, affordable and universal access to their benefits.” This universal access to eHealth in India can be seen as our efforts under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, with. initiatives in the digital health space includingthe issuance of more than 220 million Unique Health IDs along with health facilities and a provider registry and e-Sanjeevani (telemedicine app) addressing 390 million beneficiaries among many others.

Digital health can be used across organizations and operations, from early drug discovery to in-market differentiation. Some of its advantages in the overall care continuum have resulted in:

– Collaboration among All Stakeholders in Healthcare (Government, Pharmaceuticals Firms and Clinical Research Organizations): Potentially transformative changes can be seen through investments made in creating national registries, eHealth records, the use of data analytics and AI. Digital health can help solve some of healthcare’s more challenging problems, ultimately enabling us to move closer to our true goal —improving the lives of patients.

– Transfer of Knowledge by Leveraging the Latest Data and Research: Using patient registries and electronic medical records helps us collect information on individuals and their health conditions, follow their disease progression and document their patient experiences. This knowledge, when transferred and shared among stakeholders, allows for robust research and innovation in the drug delivery process.

– Insight-Driven Innovation: Consumerism in healthcare is complicated, given the emotional charge of illnesses and the complexity of delivery systems. A consumer-focused healthcare industry is inevitable. Digital health integration across the value chain — among AI/ML, data analytics, compliance, research and clinical trials — is necessary to keep pace with patient/consumer needs. Patients should be thought of as consumers and drug development and innovation therefore needs to incorporate a proactive, systematic approach based on consumer’/patients’ needs.

– People-CenteredHealth Systems: The focus is not only on patients and caregivers but also on healthcare providers. Digital health tools provide a holistic view, giving providers access to data and patients more control over their health. These technologies facilitate the convergence of people, information and connectivity to improve and personalize healthcare and health outcomes.

COVID-19 has been a propellant in increasing the engagement of patients/consumers in digital health. Firms are eyeing apps, virtual trials, data management and several other solutions that can improve the treatment experience. Additionally, digital health and technologies allow us to replace assumptions with real insights, ensuring that clinical trials are designed and conducted with patient needs at the heart. Moreover, providers can focus on preventive care as opposed to reactive treatments.

In summary, digital health and technologies allow for practices that are beyond clinic visits, working toward a common goal with patients. There is no doubt that continuing with digital transformation to improve interoperability and fully unlock the potential of healthcare data will take time. However, considering the acceleration of change in the healthcare industry, closing the healthcare equality gap and prioritizing sustainability is an unavoidable task.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.




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