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Digitalization of health care discussed during EIT Health Morning Health Talks 2021 in the Czech Republic

07. 07. 2021

The digitization of health care has been talked about for many years. Its goal is an effective way to improve the quality of treatment and patient care. It can be done in various ways. The first option is a centralized approach, requiring a large investment. The second option is decentralized, slower and based on the needs of patients, doctors and other health professionals. Experts on digitization and innovation presented their experience during EIT Health Morning Health Talks 2021 series, which is organized in the Czech Republic by DEX Innovation Centre.

In the US, between 2009 and 2020, 98% of hospitals were centrally digitized. The government has set aside $ 36 billion for digitization. The so-called EHR system (electronic health record) is a digital version of a patient's file and thus allows authorized physicians to view medical records independently of the department or location. "Despite successful digitization, doctors face a number of problems," says Josef Dvořák from the innovation agency Direct People. There are many ERH systems and they often cannot communicate with each other. "Apart from the mutual incompatibility of systems, there is also a problem with the administrative burden. Doctors spend up to half of their time entering data into the system. Other problems add to the bureaucracy, such as false alarms and potentially fatal system errors when ordering medication. As a result, EHR contributes significantly to the burnout syndrome of medical staff. " adds Dvořák.

EHR systems that serve people, address their needs and, above all, make work easier. If digitization focuses only on technology, the result may be unsatisfactory. All digital tools and systems should be created in cooperation with end-users, which is confirmed by Tomáš Vavrečka from Phillips. "Customer needs are at the heart of our strategy," he says. In this way, a system can be created that is sufficiently simple and usable in medical practice.

Sofia Couto da Rocha, head of the Transformation and Digital Innovation project in Lusiadas Saúde, Portugal, has a similar view. "Digital transformation is always about people. Unfortunately, this is sometimes forgotten. ” The decentralized digitization of health care was accelerated, among other things, by the COVID-19 pandemic. "People were afraid to meet and we registered increased demand for online medical services and consultations. In just seven days, we developed the #TodosPorUm application, which during the pandemic evaluated the user's symptoms on the basis of a questionnaire and, if necessary, referred him to medical staff. ” adds da Rocha. Almost 400,000 queries passed the application and the functionality of the chat was ensured by 3,800 paramedics. And what is going to happen after  COVID-19? "I hope that diagnostic services will expand beyond COVID and that digitization will go beyond telemedicine," says Teigu Schutte, Mobiguity.

In the Czech Republic, we can mention the open-source application zScanner as an example of good practice. zScanner is an application available on Google Play for private phones of doctors and nurses and provides fast, easy and secure clinical photo documentation (eg documentation of wounds and subsequent treatment). Thanks to the use of their own devices, the application was easily accepted by healthcare professionals.

Data security is one of the most important aspects of digitization. "Innovators and technology providers must design their tools with patient privacy in mind. The protection of personal data from the very initial design is not only a competitive advantage, but it has also become a condition. ” by Ioana Stupariu, Privacy Expert, Healcloud.

The goal of digitization should not be digitization itself, but easier work of doctors and other health professionals, who will be able to work with the help of their tools (smartphones), to which they are accustomed. Successful digitization is one that is easy, technologically secure, user-friendly and does not require high investment.

Learn more about Morning Health Talks

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