Digitizing Healthcare: How Digital Technology Is Evolving Healthcare Systems Worldwide

Published Nov 4, 2019

Copenhagen, Denmark—4 November 2019—ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research—opened its ISPOR Europe 2019 conference with its first plenary session, “Healthcare Digitization: Instant, On Demand, and Always Connected,” this morning in Copenhagen, Denmark.
ISPOR Europe Plenary 1 Panel

New technologies are driving change in healthcare systems; influencing the way diseases are prevented, diagnosed, and treated. Experts predict that future changes in healthcare will relate to both technology (eg, robotics, AI in decision support) and the way care is organized and delivered (eg, telemedicine, hospital redesign). Additionally, the focus is beginning to shift from the treatment of illness toward prevention and sustaining health. Digitalization is considered the primary influence for how healthcare systems will evolve. The panel explored the issue of digitizing healthcare and how this is impacting healthcare and health systems globally.

Panelists for this session included:

  • Moderator: Bogi Eliasen, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Elena Bonfiglioli, Microsoft, Brussels, Belgium
  • Alexandra Goncalves, MD, PhD, MMSc, Philips Healthcare, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Julian Isla, Microsoft, Foundation 29, Madrid, Spain
  • Peter Knox, MPP, The Life Raft Group, Wayne, NJ, USA
  • Ernst Kuipers, MD PhD, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Rebecca Miksad, MD, MPH, Flatiron Health, New York, NY, USA

Mr Eliasen opened by noting that while healthcare has made great progress; the healthcare system is still broken. He pointed out that today we pour new technology into an old, unintegrated system when we need to move from the treatment of disease to promoting wellbeing. Eliasen discussed the Pan-Nordic 5/5 Aspiration that by 2030 seeks to have 5% of GDP go towards preventive healthcare (vs 0.3% in 2017 across Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) and only 5% of GDP go towards sick care (vs 10.2% in 2017).

Mr Isla used aircraft as an analogy for the changes needed in healthcare. He compared the extremely complex cockpit of the Lockheed Constellation (the first aircraft to fly coast to coast commercially) with the more current Airbus 350 (that has a significantly simplified cockpit). He noted that healthcare needs a similar evolution to simplify its system and that it also needs measurement and a closed feedback loop to become a learning system.

Dr Goncalves stressed that our global health systems are near a breaking point with healthcare spending projected to increase at an annual rate of 5.4%--from USD $7.724 trillion to $10.059 trillion. Additionally, it is estimated that $3 trillion in healthcare goes to waste every year. Dr Goncalves identified 5 powerful trends that are shaping healthcare: (1) consumer centric (to increase consumer engagement in their own health), (2) value-based (to reduce waste and improve outcomes, (3) networked (to shift to lower-cost settings and the home), (4) digital (to connect patients and care providers 24/7), and (5) consolidated (to better integrate providers and payers).

Ms Bonfiglioli pointed out that 95% of all health records are now digitized. She stressed that we need to look at what digital tools can do, as well as what they should do. She also noted in the session that she considers data privacy a human right.

Mr Knox spelled out the “who, what, when, where, and why” of digital healthcare. He believes that it is important for researchers, clinicians, industry, regulators, and payers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of new data; for educators to help champion data literacy; and for technologists to address privacy, security, and infrastructure issues. Knox also stated that patients must see what is “in it for them” in order for them to contribute.

Dr Kuipers stated that over the past 25 years, healthcare innovation has occurred at a very fast pace. Increases in life expectancy, however, have come from the disease treatment and not from disease prevention. To change this, Kuipers believes that we need to look at the incentives in healthcare. He also commented on how global events, notably climate change, can impact health.

Dr Miksad noted that digital health brings together people, processes, and innovation by democratizing expertise, automating drudgery, optimizing resources, and pushing frontiers. She also stressed that it takes a community to achieve the potential of digital health, including a common data model, linked datasets, and a shared vision with privacy and ethical alignment.

A common theme through the panel discussion was how digital health leaders can be ambassadors for humanity.

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.

Additional information on the conference can be found at:
Conference Information | Program and Presentations | #ISPOREurope | Sponsors | Exhibitors | News and Press



ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), is an international, multistakeholder, nonprofit dedicated to advancing HEOR excellence to improve decision making for health globally. The Society is the leading source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE®-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration, and tools/resources in the field.
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