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Will digital transformation save European healthcare?
According to a report by Deloitte, the gap between the demand for and the supply of medical services in Europe is growing every year. On the one hand, it is the result of an aging population, and on the other hand, underinvestment of the system by the governments of individual countries, which results in a lack of doctors, nurses, and other staff. The digital transformation is a factor that can help overcome a long-standing deadlock and ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to healthcare.
Although the Deloitte study was conducted on the basis of data from 7 European countries (Norway, Germany, Denmark, UK, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands) and the results varied between countries, the overall negative trend was the same everywhere.
The rapidly progressing aging of the population means that already in 2019 over 200 million inhabitants of the continent were over 65 years old. At the same time, life expectancy grew, while the average time spent in poor health is 17 years on average. More serious health problems started at around 63.9 years of age for most Europeans. More than 50 million Europeans live with at least one chronic disease.
Unfortunately, the answer to the deterioration of the above indicators, and hence to the increasing health needs of Europe's inhabitants, is not followed by health care. On the contrary, the European health service is collapsing. Hospital beds are falling, and the number of healthcare workers is expected to drop by over 4 million by 2030. One of the main causes is burnout and the increasing burden on healthcare professionals, as demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Benefits of digitizing healthcare
Accelerating the digitization of European healthcare has many advantages for each participant in the system.
For patients, it is:
- empowering patients to monitor and manage their health
- increasing the possibility of access to medical care when it is needed the most
- improvement of the patient's experience - better personalization of the offer
For the healthcare system, these are:
- enabling integration through better coordination of the various paths
- improving the profitability and efficiency of systems and processes
- enabling new models of care, e.g. population health management
For clinics and doctors:
- decision-making support
- release of spare capacity by automating repetitive activities
- improving job satisfaction by enabling clinicians to practice at the top of their license
- better identification and support of staff needs
The biggest obstacles to the digitization
Deloitte also asked study participants what they thought were the main obstacles to the digital transformation of healthcare in their countries. The respondents were quite unanimous because in most cases they mentioned:
- bureaucracy - costs of introducing technologies
- problems with finding the appropriate technology
- training of staff to use the technology appropriately
- comprehensiveness of technology
One of the obstacles may also be the lack of digital skills of a country's societies. The results from the Deloitte report show that the largest gap in the above-mentioned Italians have skills, where about 30% of the society do not have such skills. At the other end of the scale, Norway is with a digital skills' shortage of only 15% of the population.
The results and conclusions of the Deloitte report show that the digital transformation of European healthcare is a necessity, which, although not a cure for all evil, can quite quickly improve the situation in patients' access to medical services and give them the opportunity to manage their health. Some problems in digitization can only be solved by the European Union and the governments of individual Member States, but some of them is the task of the IT industry. It is on the shoulders of companies such as Kogifi Digital that the role of appropriate adaptation of a given technology to the real needs of individual healthcare companies, implementation of this technology, staff training, and subsequent support in the operation of the entire system rests. We are ready for this challenge.
The entire Deloitte report can be downloaded here.