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Global Healthcare Systems at Pivotal Point as Technology Offers Solutions to Industry Challenges – The Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Increasing deployment of technology in healthcare is changing healthcare ecosystems, activities and stakeholders in significant ways
  • Digital health hubs are emerging across the world with distinct areas of specialisation
  • China leads the way in use of mobile healthcare, ahead of the US
  • The internet hospital is an emerging and fast-growing category in China
  • In China, clinical treatments increased by 2.8% year on year in 2015—a year that saw explosive growth in internet hospitals

      ASIA PACIFIC – Global healthcare will move into the digital age when there is a fundamental shift in how stakeholders collaborate to use technology to solve global healthcare challenges. This is the key finding of a report released on Feb. 22 by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), which explores the digital health landscape and the opportunities for the industry to support healthy living around the world.

      Chee Hew, Senior Principal Consultant at The Economist Intelligence Unit said, “The time has come for digital health to really make an impact and revolutionise international healthcare systems. However, there are many challenges in getting the scale needed to make it cost-effective and in reaching those who would most benefit. The differing structure of and nature of systems across the world means that challenges healthcare systems face vary from region to region. There are examples from different corners of the globe where this technology has not just been incorporated into the caregiving process, but has fundamentally overturned the delivery structure.”

      In recent years, China has elevated and reshaped digital healthcare through the rapid expansion of ‘cloud hospitals’, also known as ‘internet hospitals’. China opened its first internet-based hospital in Ningbo in 2015; the open platform connects major hospitals, primary healthcare facilities, doctors, pharmacies and insurance companies to deliver care. The proliferation of internet hospitals in China will help to satisfy the huge demand for good-quality care, currently not matched by the available supply of services, and will thus help to expand overall provision of medical services and clinical treatments in the country (see Figure 1).

      In addition, the use of mobile healthcare varies around the world. Interestingly, while there is a higher level of awareness of mobile health in the US than in South Korea, the proportion of people using mobile health in the US lags behind that in South Korea. China’s use of mobile health technology, however, in part reflects its citizens’ desire for access to credible information and leads the way in the use of mobile healthcare (see Figure 2).

      The report has identified three main ways in integrating technology with healthcare ecosystems: scaling up digital health solutions, locating technology’s value proposition in different markets and redefining user value and relations.

      Scaling up digital health solutions

      The interactions between technology and healthcare ecosystems in different parts of the world are creating digital health hubs with distinct areas of specialisation and focal points. This is happening in response to demographics and healthcare challenges within proximity of the hub, and is an outcome of the unique characteristics and capabilities of local contributors.

      Locating the value proposition in different markets

      Companies must set out which issue they are trying to address before embarking on a digital initiative. Each country has a different set of health challenges, requiring the same technology to be implemented in different ways. Telehealth is a key example – it can be used to bridge the physical gap between the patient and physician, delivering care in the Himalaya’s, while also delivering sophisticated forms of treatment such as a virtual tumour board.

      Once again, this technology is also bound by a contradiction – those most in need of it are least likely to have access; at the very least, they will require a smartphone or tablet.

      Redefining user value and relations

      Digital technology has not only helped patients have access to new services but is reshaping how different elements of the healthcare ecosystem interact with each other. If effectively implemented, it will transform entire hospital models. Digitisation of health services will shift the primary locations for the delivery of different services – less complex procedures might even be undertaken in the home, freeing up space in emergency rooms or walk-in clinics. China is a prime example of this. The first of its kind, the Ningbo Cloud Hospital opened in 2015 and works on an open platform that connects major hospitals, primary healthcare facilities, doctors, pharmacies and insurance companies.

      To download the report: www.eiu.com/digital-health

      Source: The EIU & MHP Comms

      Click here for the complete issue.

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Healthcare Focus: LUNGS
Get to Know TCM
Diabetics Technology
The Piece of Your Mind - Brain Health/Science
Women & Men's Health
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No. 1 Killer - Heart Diseases, Diagnosis and Treatment
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