Health Conference 2020: COVID-19 crisis accelerated the use of technology in healthcareAdriatic Journal 29 September 2020
Delo’s business conference Health 2020: New Medicine and Digitalisation, held in Ljubljana on 23 September, highlighted the user’s position at the centre of the healthcare system in a changing society and presented smart solutions and approaches in healthcare systems at home and abroad.
Author: Ana Potočnik
Photos: Jože Suhadolnik/Delo
The key findings of the conference, organised by the media publisher Delo with the content partner the Institute for Strategic Solutions, and the co-organiser the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia, are that the expansion of science and technology offer an opportunity to transform the health system, while the cell and gene therapies will enable new, personalised forms of treatment that will help halt the progression of some of the most complex diseases and reintegrate patients actively into society.
Philippe Vigouroux, advisor in social affairs at the French embassies in Rome and Ljubljana and former director of hospitals in Bordeaux, Limoges and Nancy, said the pandemic has shown that we need more solidarity and better organisation of health systems. France, he added, was not properly prepared for covid-19. In the future, countries will need to devote more efforts to cross-border cooperation, including coordination and implementation of traceability. There was also a need for better organization of hospitals, which, in addition to investing in human resources, also includes investments in digitalisation.
According to Krzysztof Nojszewski, director of Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Slovenia, there will be ground-breaking cell and gene therapies in the future, which are significantly different from conventional therapies in that it will be a one-off treatment tailored to the individual patient. Such therapies promise greater treatment effectiveness and can completely change the patient’s prognosis – for the better.
Marjan Sušelj, director general of the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (ZZZS), is also convinced we can expect great effects from personalised medicines. As he pointed out, as much as 40% of classic drug treatments are ineffective. “Last year in Slovenia we spent EUR 520m on medicines, most of them for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and nervous diseases. The illusion is that we will give less for healthcare costs in the future. We will give more, but it will also stimulate and help the country’s economic development. If this is clear to us, then politicians, businessmen as well as trade unions will understand that more needs to be spent on healthcare.”
"Last year in Slovenia we spent EUR 520m on medicines, most of them for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and nervous diseases. The illusion is that we will give less for healthcare costs in the future."
Dr. Jernej Završnik, director of the Health Centre dr. Adolf Drolec Maribor highlighted one of the possible solutions for reducing waiting times in healthcare. The so-called heuristic approach, which is based on two models: to manage planned and unplanned visits, but requires a comprehensive approach that includes examining factors influencing waiting times, identifying waiting patterns, developing models and applications to inform and measure patient satisfaction.
Gregor Schoss, Director of Safety and Electromagnetics at SIQ Ljubljana, where various devices are tested and given certifications, illustrated the advanced approach in healthcare and related smart devices in the case of diagnostics of potentially suspicious skin mark, which the patient photographs every few weeks and then passes it on to healthcare professionals via the app. Data and photos are stored in the cloud.
An important role in transforming the health care system is played by the way prescribing and access to medicines is conducted, believes Ann Slee, the Associate CCIO (Medicines) for NHSX. In the UK, a prescription in primary care is very rarely written by hand.According to her, an open information system is extremely important, as it enables a comprehensive individual treatment of the patient, with an insight into his condition, risk factors and the like.
Rachel Dunscombe, executive director of NHS Digital Academy and director of Tektology, stressed the importance of digital duplicates of patients, which can be a model of how to process data.
Digitalisation must follow the guideline that it represents added value and help to all involved in the management of healthcare processes, but it must not be an end in itself, believes Igor Zorko, president of the Association for Informatics and Telecommunications at GZS and director of ZZI.
"Investing in digitalisation must take into account various aspects, including the user experience."
"Technology can convert the‘ noise ’generated by masses of patient and system data into meaningful content, leading to a better understanding of public health and its improvement”
Dr. James Reed, director of clinical information at the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, described an example of a data approach at the hospital where he works (Birmingham) and gave his findings: “Technology can convert the‘ noise ’generated by masses of patient and system data into meaningful content, leading to a better understanding of public health and its improvement,” Reed is convinced.
According to Tomaž Gornik, founder and director of Better, “Slovenia first needs a strategy for the transformation of the health care system, where priority areas will be determined, and then work must begin. Money is needed to implement such a plan”, Gornik added. At the same time, Reed is convinced that financial resources alone are not enough to advance in health systems, they also need professional, clinical knowledge, and not just a classic entrepreneurial approach. According to Tamas Babel, Director of Health and Regional Affairs at EIT Health Innostars, there is enough money, the key question is how to properly distribute it among the projects that bring the greatest user value.