Knowledge is power: the data-driven future of health care

first_imgHealth systems are facing a major challenge in responding better to people’s needs. Whether it’s keeping people healthy for longer, offering more personalized treatment, or providing better care for older people in their own homes, disruptive innovation presents opportunities to transform health care delivery.As part of POLITICO’S Outside, In series of events with Philips, policymakers, patient representatives, and industry leaders met in Brussels to discuss how, together, they can harness the potential of disruptive innovation. It’s a process that calls for new players and attitudes, with a shift in mindset for everyone from politicians to patients.Introducing “Transforming Health Care through Disruptive Innovation”, Mario Huyghe, CEO of Philips Belgium, explained how his company focuses on innovating to enable healthy living, fast diagnosis, effective treatment and connected after-care. The industry’s efforts need policymakers to back up these innovations with legislation. Good data is the source of good analysis, and though we carry the necessary means around with us every day, in our smartphones, there remains a reluctance to share our data. We’re undergoing a tectonic shift from reactive health care to proactive, preventive care, Huyghe said, and fear must not be a barrier to this move.“As a patient, I want my doctor to talk to me about quality of life, not about data” David SomekhAndrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, discussed data localization, in which countries store their citizens’ data within their own borders. He believes this is bad for business, for citizens, and for the progress of e-health. In the example of rare diseases, for a country with just a handful of cases each year there is no opportunity to find useful patterns among the data, patterns that could lead to better treatment and prevention. “We have to allow free data flows,” he said, “but we have to guarantee that it’s safe.”Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, talks to Zoya Sheftalovich of POLITICOOvercoming such resistance to free data flows – at national and individual level – is one of the biggest obstacles in the adoption of e-health, and the word that surfaced most often during the debate was ‘trust’. Be it trust in the motives of those with access to the data, or trust in the abilities of those collecting it to protect it from security breaches, it’s absolutely vital to the process. If people don’t have faith in internet services, they will never use them. The cloud, Ansip pointed out, is much safer than servers in basements. “Banks can be robbed, but we don’t advise people to take their cash out and keep it under their mattress.”“We have to allow free data flows, but we have to guarantee that it’s safe” Andrus AnsipAnsip’s homeland, Estonia, is a shining example of e-health done well, and Ain Aaviksoo, Deputy Secretary-General for E-services and Innovation at the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, explained how they’ve made such progress. “The people trust their government and private companies’ services, but it didn’t come overnight,” he said. “It’s been constant work for fifteen or twenty years. The problem is not that companies or governments are using their data: the problem is people not knowing who is using the data.” So in Estonia, in a drive for transparency, every citizen can see exactly who has access to their information.Michal Boni MEP was the first minister for digitization in Eastern Europe, and experienced conflicts with the health ministry in Poland, which, he said, wasn’t ready to start e-health development. “Now there are many interesting activities being done by business; we are ready to start with telemedicine platforms, and legislation gives us the possibility to establish it,” he said. “We need to discuss European issues, to harmonize, not to turn back to fragmentation. Estonia is a fantastic reference point for us all. If we want to achieve our digital goals, we need to make Europe like Estonia.”“The problem is not that companies or governments are using their data: the problem is people not knowing who is using the data” Ain AaviksooTim Jürgens, Head of New Business Models and Emminens Healthcare Services at Roche Diabetes Care, explained how 6.5 billion data points are generated by diabetes patients through glucose monitoring, but most of them go unused. Now, due to technology and communications interoperability, it’s easy to transfer this data to a central database and create insights relating to glucose control. The key, he said, is controlling data flow, to the benefit of the person generating the data. Businesses, the individual, the politicians creating the framework: all will benefit from resulting lower costs and better health outcomes.According to David Somekh, Network Director at the European Health Futures Forum, there’s a clear crossover between the potential for e-health and the need for empowered patient citizens with higher health literacy and more active involvement in their own health. “We need to shift from sickness care to a focus on health,” he said. “We agree on what we can and should do, but we don’t know how to do it. And at grassroots level, do you really care about data security? You just want the right devices to help you manage your condition best. As a patient, regulation doesn’t matter to me; what I want to know is how to use what’s available most effectively. I want my doctor to talk to me about quality of life, not about data.”“The one who has the data has the power,” Aaviksoo concluded. “And when we talk about people, if we empower them with their data, they will make health of it.”last_img

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