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“Data can help us to understand which interventions in healthcare work, which needs are being met and which ones aren’t, where the greatest burdens lie and where more investment is needed,” says Bogi Eliasen. (picture: Bogi Eliasen)

To Make Healthcare Sustainable We Have To Get Out Of The Silos

How can healthcare systems keep up with the changing face of healthcare to create the health system of the future? At the European Health Forum Gastein, we talked with Bogi Eliasen – Futurist & Special Advisor on Future of Health at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Head of Denmark Unit UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

Do health systems keep pace with the development of digital technologies?

To be honest, most western health systems have a clear focus on digital technologies, but if you compare with other sectors, we cannot say that the health systems keep up the pace with the digital technologies. There are several reasons for that. But the most important one is that the health systems get stuck in their own silos. Health should be a permanent part of everybody’s life, not just when the disease is knocking on the door. The big tech companies are already entering the market with health-relevant services. If healthcare systems do nothing and stay passive, the healthcare domain will not be theirs any more.

The public health systems are in a closed circle: new technologies – no evidence for better outcomes – slow adoption. How to break out of this loop?

We need to find a new way of working with real-time data. It’s time to treat individuals as equal partners in the process of gathering and analysing data. And finally, we need to think about how to use data that is not necessary for clinical applications. I mean health-relevant data. We will also need to think differently about how we estimate outcomes and what we want to measure. Now we control input of resource; besides there is some ticking box system if the intervention worked or not. We need to change our metrics towards the quality of life. But that also requires the development of standards to measure that. These changes will include real-time research, predictive trajectories, and modelling to make a more agile and flexible healthcare system.

How would you describe an innovative healthcare ecosystem of the future?

The innovation will happen in overlapping ecosystems with much broader coalitions of stakeholders. The person/citizen will be in the middle of care. Prevention – or health management – will gain a much more significant role.

We need to find a new way of working with real-time data

Private-public partnership and cross-border cooperation will become a must, especially with the focus towards personalised health, where we will work with small patient groups and individuals to deliver evidence-based care for one. We need to keep the person in the middle and be able to compare large data sets. Health is about persons, not jurisdictions and national borders.

How will the data economy change healthcare?

It’s about time to start to see resources used in healthcare as an investment, not a cost. Also, we need a shift from a focus on clinical incidents towards a complete image of every person during the lifespan. We should emphasise on reducing the combined disease burden each person can face in life. Therefore, data will be crucial, just as we see it in any other industry.

The incentive system has to be redesigned towards outcome-based one. On the other hand, every individual should have appropriate tools to manage health to a certain extent. If we reward prevention, focus on reduction of disease burden and improve quality of life, we can begin to work on constructing a sustainable and personal health model, that gives more value to society than we see today.


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