The key principles for Healthcare Digitalization
The global situation in 2020 and 2021 has made one thing clear: the evolution of the healthcare sector towards a digital and sustainable model based on three fundamental pillars: patients, data, and investment.
During the pandemic, the Spanish National Health System has seen its entire organization blurred and plunged into the chaos of urgency. After overcoming the most difficult moments, it is time to carry out a real analysis of the sector’s needs in order to create a long-term sustainable system that is capable of responding in an orderly and efficient manner to situations as extreme as those experienced, without harming medical professionals.
An analysis in which it is vital to establish the basic principles on which the leap towards the ‘Hospital of the future’ must be made. When we talk about healthcare digitalization, it is essential to have first established three essential elements: patients, data, and investment in ICT.
For digital transformation to be efficient and effective not only within the hospital and its employees but also for patients, it is necessary to be aware of the figure of the empowered patient.
It is about citizens taking control of their health by assuming some of the leading roles within the healthcare system. So that patients are able to take an active part in the whole process by keeping themselves informed, active, and involved with all the new developments and changes that not only help to improve their state of health, but also facilitate and increase the efficiency of the whole process.
The pandemic has shown that data are essential to raise awareness of the health situation and establish the necessary measures. In fact, the entire health strategy has depended on data, not only nationally, but globally. A situation that has once again shown that, without data, no digital transformation is possible. Without this element, it is difficult to generate value, evolve processes and optimize the entire current healthcare structure.
To achieve this, healthcare must manage to extract the full potential of data, increase the transparency of its processes and results and rely on technological elements that ensure its protection and responsible use.
• Investment in ICT
To achieve a true digital evolution of the healthcare sector, both private and public, there must be a social and governmental awareness of the need for investment. This awareness has begun to take on importance during the pandemic, as shown in the SEIS 2020 Index report, with an increase of more than 10% in the ICT budget of each Autonomous Region in Spain.
This investment is expected to continue thanks to the European Union’s Next Generation funds. These funds will be used to finance projects that facilitate the digital transformation of, among others, the Spanish public health system.
Undoubtedly, we seem to be at the perfect moment to make the leap towards true healthcare digitization. For this reason, it is important to establish these three fundamental pillars for a real transformation to take place. If any one of them fails, it is possible that digital tools and systems will be adopted, but not a real and sustainable transformation in the long term. A structural change must take place not only in processes and structures but also in the mentality of society as a whole, which must be able to visualize the added value that digitalization brings.