When new technologies improve health, we talk about digital health or eHealth. Digital health enables to perform various tasks directly from home, with the support of computer or smartphone, saving money and effort.
Studies have shown the benefits of digital health for patients, but also for the National Health Service. Indeed, health technologies can help to bridge the gap between needs and resources and bring about changes that would affect people’s daily lives.
THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL HEALTH IN 2020
Electronic health records, telemedicine, medical apps, artificial intelligence and other digital solutions could help to foster the long-term economic sustainability of the National Health Service, thus guaranteeing quality care for patients.
Let’s look together at the benefits and trends of digital healthcare in 2020.
The electronic health record
The European Digital Agenda of the European Strategy 2020 foresees the possibility of “dematerializing” many activities linked to the health sector, through the development of a plan that aims to simplify several operations and reduce waste and fraud against the State. The forecast is to achieve these objectives through three macro-categories of intervention.
First of all, the establishment of the Electronic Patient Record (EPR), the digital medical record of the individual citizen, with which all the health information produced by the National Health System is collected in a single document accessible to all the health systems and facilities. This is possible thanks to the creation of a Health Card System and the dematerialization of documents such as public administration invoices, healthcare prescriptions and medical records.
The Electronic Patient Record (EPR) signs the next step towards innovation. In fact, it is possible to talk about the Electronic Patient Record 2.0, which is still in progress in Italy and which allows to have interfaceable formats that can be used by big data and by the artificial intelligence tools of the reference information system.
The electronic prescription
Although electronic prescription is a small change able to bring many advantages and simplify the lives of all citizens, it will not be a simple habit to accept for Italian citizens, so attached to traditional paper prescriptions.
Thanks to the electronic prescription, the frequent mistakes that may occur when drugs are prescribed will be avoided. Often, in fact, the pharmacist needs to interpret the doctor’s handwriting to understand what drug the patient needs.
Another advantage is given by the fact that the electronic prescription enables the State to have greater control and save cost, since the electronic prescription costs less than the traditional one that must be printed.
Ultimately, the electronic prescription enables to simplify the pharmacovigilance and the control of those activities performed, for example, by the Italian Local Health Authorities. The law, in fact, requires that all the prescriptions produced and delivered in health facilities must be controlled.
DIGITAL HEALTH IN ITALY: 2020 TRENDS
If we talk about digital innovation in healthcare and the new trends of 2020, we are referring to telemedicine, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), innovation in the National Health System, care of the chronically ill patient, together with all those digital tools that aim to dematerialise, modernise and optimise the information system of Italian healthcare.
This innovation process involves not only the Italian Ministry of Health: public administrations together with private individuals are moving fast towards digital healthcare and hopefully supporting innovation in synergy between the two realities.
The hope is therefore to create an eLeadership by professionals with digital skills (and with mandatory certifications for those who work in the national health sector), able to guide the digital transformation in the right direction.
Digital health and telemedicine
Even telemedicine services are starting to appear in some regional areas in Italy. Actually, this objective is being achieved thanks to private suppliers that push local health services to adopt these health technologies. Citizens are becoming more and more aware of the importance of digital health and are asking for services that they consider useful for health.
Digital health and healthcare
Precision medicine based on big data is useful for new therapies and customised schemes, because digital health technologies make therapeutic adherence possible.
The same Anglo-Saxon concept of healthcare refers more to the idea of taking care than to the one of curing, and it combines health and care, because it is important to handle the patient’s needs.
Future interventions in the field of digital health
The World Health Organization has recommended that all countries implement the use of technology for digital health, in order to improve people’s health and strengthen essential services.
These solutions must be implemented in the various national health services as soon as possible, even by 2020.
Below some of the interventions included in these guidelines: