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October 8, 2019

How To Ensure Human Touch In Digital Healthcare Driven By Ai Solutions?

What impact will the digital transformation and increased use of Artificial Intelligence have on the relationship between a patient and a doctor? How to take advantage of new digital opportunities without losing sight of essential values such as safety, privacy, security and trust? Three experts answered these questions during the European Health Forum Gastein 2019.

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Member editorial board ICT&health

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When we look at digital transformation, the key fact is not the “digital”. It’s the “transformation”. There is no point facilitating digitalisation without dramatically changing the foundations of care processes. In other words: if you take a broken clinical process and digitalise it, then you get a costly, broken digitalised process.

When making our plans for the future, we need to keep asking ourselves: Why? Why do we introduce this system? What will be the impact on the patient, on the population, on the providers? There has to be proof that the benefit is real and obtainable, Ran D. Balicer said.

AI to bring back the human touch

Ran D. Balicer, a public health physician and researcher, serves as Founding Director of the Clalit Research Institute and Director of Health Policy Planning at Clalit – Israel’s largest healthcare organisation (photo credit: EHFG).

There is a fear that digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will reduce the human touch. This could not be further from the truth. In their daily work, physicians are doing too many repetitive tasks that do not require their unique skills.  AI will allow doctors and nurses to go back to their real purpose.

Today 30% of care is wasted, and human error is the third cause of death

AI will also allow us to move from intuitive medicine to introducing more field safe mechanisms because currently, we are failing our patients too often.  Today 30% of care is wasted, and human error is the third cause of death.

Digital transformation would offer us an opportunity to move away from the tyranny of reactive medicine and move towards proactive and preventive care. Assisted by data and AI, we can locate those patients in need of care before they actually become symptomatic. This will be both sustainable and effective. Overall, I think that AI will allow us to have more of the human touch.

Data for the benefits of citizens

Marco Marsella is Head of the “eHealth, Well-being, and Ageing” Unit in the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) of the European Commission (photo credit: EHFG).

Digital transformation will be data-driven. Data will be at the heart of the transformation; it is the enabler for the continuity of care across the Member States and for the promotion of personalised medicine. However, data is used differently across the Member States and their information systems, so we need to find mechanisms to make sure that data is available for those who need it. Citizens should ultimately control data.

Data will be at the heart of the transformation

To make sure that this happens, and here comes the human touch, we need to ensure there is trust in the way technology solutions are developed. This is about making sure that the needs of those using these technologies are met and about empowering them to take control of their health. Trust will come from ensuring that the data is protected, and from the way the European Commission is moving ahead in putting together rights and innovations.

Digital society

Dr Indra Joshi is the Head of Digital Health and AI for NHSx, overseeing the digital health initiatives within the NHS with a focus on digital health standards, data, evidence and policy for AI (photo credit: EHFG).

The European Union is investing and supporting the evolution of the landscape. The European Commission is now working to adopt a strategy at EU level for supporting AI, which includes AI in healthcare systems. Besides, the European Commission supports researchers to come up with new ideas and test them in healthcare systems.

Enabling trust in the digital society forms the basis of the European Commission’s work with the Member States and of the work to make sure that digital solutions benefit citizens.

Understanding new tools

There is an importance of ensuring that doctors and nurses need to become digitally savvy, but they don’t make up the entire healthcare workforce. There is a huge proportion of people working in care and community practices. So how do you actually support them in understanding the new tools that have been developed, and how can they explain them to their patients?

We need to create standards, frameworks and collaborations

It’s also vital to talk about the public and patients when we discuss digital health. Because all of you in the room are people, you are all humans, and you want to feel empowered and have a better experience when it comes to health. You have good experiences in other sectors, why should you not have the same in the healthcare sector? To help people manage their health better, the NHS launched an app called ‘ Empower the Person’.

Structure and options

We need to create standards, frameworks and collaborations. One of the key aspects of my role is to create a pipeline for new (digital health) ideas to become a reality. How do you ensure and validate products? How do you implement a product and ensure that it is actually impactful? This is of great importance.

In healthcare, it is important that we also provide people with options, particularly elderly populations who can feel insecure with modern technologies, or migrants who might not speak the local language. So you need to have the opportunity of approaching your healthcare digitally, but you also need the backup option of doing it.

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Member editorial board ICT&health

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