Digital health transformation takes center stage at HIMSS Europe
- Posted on July 15, 2022
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
As more of us are learning, gathering again with colleagues in person is more meaningful than ever, after the last few years of virtual conferences and long-distance collaborations.
I had the chance to experience this again myself a couple of weeks ago at the HIMSS European Health Conference & Exhibition 2022, held in mid-June in Helsinki. It was such a positive experience to see everyone again: great conversations, inspiring presentations, demonstrations of ground-breaking technologies. It felt like the European health and life sciences community was coming back to life.
Digitalization top of mind for health and life science leaders
Without a doubt, when it comes to healthcare, the overall top topic of conversation at the conference was digitization of provider and hospital processes. Closely related to that is the whole move toward connected patient monitoring and remote care. I believe both will set the European healthcare agenda for years to come, primarily because of the many doors that digitization will open for new, more efficient models of healthcare, increased research collaboration and better patient outcomes.
If not now, when?
A main theme at HIMSS Europe was, “if not now, when?” At present, the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare is growing at different paces, depending on geographical region. Adoption is higher in Nordic countries and in countries with smaller populations, which make it easier to enable digital transformations. Compared with other international healthcare systems, Europe’s healthcare systems are a part of the public sector and so not typically among early adopters. Regional legal governance and privacy regulations are still a challenge, but we are seeing more and more solutions coming to the market, which are compliant, using combinations of on-premise and cloud solutions.
Europe is ready for a digital future
Largely in response to the pandemic, the European Union will disburse grants and loans up to €723 billion for “recovery and resilience,” of which at least 26% is targeting investment in digital health transformation. As conference organizers said, that commitment will provide healthcare and IT leaders a larger-than-usual opportunity to advance the digital transformation of their healthcare systems.
Missing: the framework
Central to taking advantage of this commitment will be creation of a governing legislative framework, another top topic at HIMSS Europe.
Patients and practitioners have much more access to digital technologies in their daily lives than they do when it comes to healthcare, in large part because health data is still highly siloed and most records still reside on paper. Although it seems hard for those of us in the technology community to believe, one physician speaking at the conference estimated that in some European countries 80% of their health data is available only via non-digitized PDFs! While data privacy and a person’s ownership of their personal data is regulated and highly valued throughout the European countries, that same conversation is one we are only starting to have when it comes to healthcare, because there is so little digitized patient data.
Conversations focusing on new care models
At the conference, I was particularly inspired by the openness to collaborating across the entire healthcare/life science ecosystem. Conversations are changing. I heard a real willingness to investigate the types of technology that could power new types of data-driven care models: virtual clinics and virtual care; adoption of remote patient monitoring systems that help move patients from care facilities to their own homes more rapidly; and models of research that could result in faster research insights, especially for chronic disease and prevention.
The technologies behind those models, such as AI, connectivity and patient-centered mobile solutions, are available today. Now, hopefully, spurred by technology demonstrations such as those at HIMSS EU and the EU financial incentive, healthcare systems, the pharma and medical technology companies, along with big tech and legislators, will partner to create the underlying framework required to bring this ecosystem to life.
All together now
We at Avanade came away inspired and ready to continue our work. Backed by years of experience, a commitment to innovation and a deep understanding of all facets of the health and life sciences ecosystem and our unparalleled Microsoft expertise, which is leading the way in healthcare and life science digital transformation, my colleagues and I are brimming with ideas that we’re ready to share. Let’s talk.