Hungarian Dr. Bertalan Meskó — aka The Medical Futurist — and his team have been our big inspiration around all things digital health. Here is a summary of their latest take on the state of national digital health strategies around the world.
Public expenditure on health and long-term care in OECD countries is set to increase from around 6% of GDP today to 14% by 2060. The increase is caused by the growing needs of aging populations, the increasing share of chronic illnesses in societies, the rising incomes driving higher expectation – and the introduction of new technologies.
The WHO’s Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 reports that shortages can mount up to 9.9 million physicians, nurses and midwives globally by 2030.
The needs-based shortage of healthcare workers globally is about 17.4 million
193 states have some sort of health strategy already, or policies on science, technology, and innovation. However — Dr. Bertalan Meskó’s team argues — the intersection of technology and health is quite often not materializing in digital health policies, but rather guidelines on health IT, mHealth, wireless health or e-health.
Shared decision-making and the democratization of care are not there yet in most parts of the world
Those national digital health strategies that are currently pioneered across the planet have the following faults:
-Too much of a focus on health IT challenges such as electronic medical records, personal health records or interoperability.
-Cultural transformation and its consequences such as patient engagement, dealing with patient data as well as the utilization of health sensors get a lower priority.
-Social impact of technologies on healthcare and change in power relations that were cemented in healthcare for over centuries are not recognized enough.
-No clear mechanism of urging patients to proactively take care of their own health.
Imagine that a patient living in France asks a Belgian company to sequence the tissue of his tumor. Afterward, another enterprise in precision diagnostics establishes that a Swiss pharma company has precisely that type of clinical trial on a Spanish island, which the patient could use – for free. In case, the treatment proves to be effective, the person will be healed without the expertise of French doctors. Thus, why exactly would he contribute to the healthcare system through his taxes in France? Governments could avoid the appearance of such future scenarios with the careful crafting of national digital health strategies.