During the second webinar of the three-part webinar series, a panel of influencers was organized with the topic The sustainable future of health – are digital solutions the way to a sustainable future? The panel of influencers brought together more than a hundred healthcare professionals. The panel which was led by Jari Numminen (pictured left) and included Katja Rääpysjärvi (North Ostrobothnia wellbeing services county Pohde, population 416.000), Mika Perttu (South Savo wellbeing services county Eloisa, population 133.000) and Annette Kainu (Medzilla Oy) had an insightful discussion about current changes in healthcare.
Value-based-based healthcare is beginning to be seen in need-based prioritization of patient care. However, the role of digitization in increasing the overall impact of healthcare requires a change in the prevailing way of thinking. Digital services should not be an afterthought or an additional burden on top of the workload, they should be an enabler of effective and sustainable healthcare.
Digitalization, when implemented correctly, transforms healthcare to patient-driven care and serves patients in a need-based manner
Digital services change the way care is delivered – the same information is visible to the professional and the patient. The patients’ personal motivation to take responsibility for their own health takes centre stage.
Transition from the traditional hierarchical and healthcare centric model to patient driven healthcare is inevitable. By using digital services that collect relevant information about patients (remote monitoring, patient reported outcome measures etc.) both patients and healthcare professionals are guided in real time to make decisions that lead to balanced and well-controlled care. This enable enables early need-based interventions. As the role of the patients grows so does the need for remote support – this requires changes to care pathway designs that produce sustainable impact and have clear metrics.
The role of professionals is crucial in implementation of new care pathway solutions. Professionals must have the necessary resources, training, and support to deploy new services in daily care practices. It is important to increase the patient’s knowledge and understanding that the services enable better care of their own health, starting from the very first patient encounter. After the patient’s onboarding digital services enable constant access to care and need-based interventions.
Value-based services promote the evaluation and development of healthcare quality
Digital services with proven impact produce reliable information about patients’ quality of care between visits as well as enable better management of care of entire patient population. The information produced by the services is versatile and information can be widely obtained, such as adherence medication, indication specific measurable variables (blood pressure, lung functions, blood values, etc.), symptom monitoring and structural surveys that map the state of the disease. Also feedback on customer satisfaction can be monitored.
The structured production of information that supports the treatment plan, if implemented correctly, improves treatment results – clients can be treated as they should be treated, i.e., according to current care guidelines and prioritizing care. Reliable health status of patients supports the information-based management and forecasting of health prioritization in individual and population level. In this case, the impact and quality of health services can be monitored based on metrics.
As the use of impactful digital services becomes more common, it enables continuous improvement of care quality and monitoring of quality at various levels of healthcare: on treatment pathway, care unit, wellbeing services county and national level. To improve the quality of care sustainably and to obtain solutions that solve health challenges for large populations we must monitor the quality of care systematically and have clear criteria and measures to monitor results on a national level. Part of this process is sharing the achieved results and challenges between wellbeing services counties.
The sustainable improvement of healthcare requires a widespread use of digital services that have been proven to be effective
National guidance should consider effectiveness as the most important criterion in the acquisition of services that support healthcare and their development, because only effective services can promote the construction of sustainable healthcare.
In Finland, this activity is supported by FinCCHTA’s Digi-HTA evaluation activity (Health Technology Assessment, HTA), which evaluates healthcare methods for all new digital health and well-being products. In the Digi-HTA assessment, the best available information is combined to support health policy and clinical decision-making, i.e., the assessment helps wellbeing services counties in the procurement of services.
The five key areas of the evaluation provide information on how well the service supports effectiveness criteria and sustainable healthcare:
- Data protection and security
- Usability and accessibility
Effective services produce increased health in a cost-effective, safe, and easily accessible way, and thus contribute to the sustainable renewal of healthcare – healthcare customers, healthcare professionals and society all benefit from this.