The digital revolution in healthcare is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, reshaping the way we approach healthcare systems. To delve into this transformative journey, the World Health Organization (WHO) organized , the 2nd WHO Symposium on the Future of Health Systems in a Digital Era in the European Region, held in Porto in September, two long awaited post-pandemic years since the first one.
Anca del Rio, Healthtech Community Lead at Basel Area Business & Innovation, represented the voice of the transformative ecosystem leaders at DayOne, one of the leading clusters for healthcare innovation in Europe. She joined the conversation on “Transforming health systems together: Views of the private sector on the future of digital health” and was accompanied by several distinguished experts, including: Tobias Silberzahn, Partner at McKinsey & Company, Beth Wolff, Director of Digital Health Solutions at Lundbeck, Ronan O’Connor, VP and Managing Director at HIMSS EMEA, Peter Speyer, Head of Data, Analytics and AI at Novartis Foundation, and Ana Rita Pereira, Government and Healthcare Sector Lead Western Europe at Microsoft. The plenary was moderated by Giovanni Monti from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Clayton Hamilton, Regional Technical Officer, Digital Health Flagship at WHO Europe.
One striking fact that sets the stage is the incredible growth of the global digital health market, projected to exceed $200 billion by 2023, with the potential to double by 2030. The private sector has played a pivotal role in driving this innovation. However, with the complexity of emerging technologies, healthcare authorities in Europe face the challenge of strategically investing in digital infrastructure to enhance healthcare outcomes.
The panel discussion explored several critical aspects:
1. Digital innovation trends in healthcare: The panelists discussed the latest trends in digital innovation within the healthcare sector and brought in different perspectives from pharma, life sciences, consulting, policymaking, startups, civil society and Big Tech. From telemedicine to AI-powered diagnostics, the healthcare landscape is evolving rapidly.
2. Health system evolution: To harness the power of digital innovation, health systems must evolve. The discussion revolved around the changes required to leverage current and next-generation data and digital technologies effectively.
3. Public-private collaboration: A highlight of the discussion was the emphasis on the need for both multistakeholder cooperation and cross-sectoral collaboration. Whereas private sector innovation is not enough anymore, aligning efforts between public and private sectors to digitally transform health systems seems to be the key to benefit all.
Whilst sharing experiences and best practices in digital health acceleration and meaningful adoption of health innovation in industry and practice throughout the two-days event, Anca emphasized “It is not just about multistakeholder engagement in healthcare and healthtech; it’s also about cross-sectoral collaboration. We should not underestimate the role of building a community around the digital transformation of healthcare that fosters dialogue with each stakeholder (bottom-up) and facilitates inclusive and sustainable top-down decisions”.
The message is clear: Cooperation is key.
The private sector brings innovation, while the public sector ensures accessibility and equity. The symposium stressed that we need to build a community around the digital transformation of healthcare, fostering dialogue with each stakeholder. Inclusivity and sustainability should guide our top-down decisions.
Furthermore, the panel discussion pinpointed the bottlenecks in healthtech startup acceleration and urged the ecosystem to engage all stakeholders, including startups, investors, Big Tech companies, and patients, in open innovation and dialogue. Collaboration, not competition, is the way forward.
In conclusion, the WHO Symposium on the Future of Health systems in a Digital Era shed light on the critical role that the private sector plays in shaping the future of healthcare. Most importantly, the panel where DayOne contributed, underscored the importance of public-private partnerships and multistakeholder engagement to ensure that the positive impact of health technology reaches everyone. The journey towards a digitally transformed healthcare future is a collective effort, and it is essential that we all work together to empower its full potential.