Health, the future is technology
Health is without doubt one of the main features of an advanced society, one of its main assets and achievements. However, the current health service model demands that government and citizens shoulder a huge financial burden that grows heavier each year and renders the system unsustainable in the medium term. The aging of the population and the crisis that has hit many of the developed economies has forced the introduction of changes to the structures of present-day health services.
These services have been among the hardest hit by the policies of austerity introduced since the crisis began in 2008. Health budgets have suffered drastic cuts and the systems have adapted to the new scenario as best they could, but the situation can also be seen as an opportunity to create a new healthcare service that is better than the old one.
Quality universal healthcare provision
According to doctor Josep M. Piqué, director general of Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic and president of MIHealth Forum “the cuts have not affected some of the best assets of the sector, such as its talent and creativity. We must take advantage to create new tools, strategies and ways of operating our healthcare systems. To reform it without preconceptions and with a clear brief: to preserve universal access to quality healthcare as one of the pillars of the welfare state.”
The European Commissar for Health and Consumption, Tonio Borg, expressed similar ideas when he explained a few weeks ago that spending on chronic illnesses represents nearly 80% of the total EU health budget, and that 97% of this amount is spent on treatment while only 3% is spent on prevention. “While it is true that we must do more with less, it is also true that we can get by if we simply do things differently”, says Piqué.
mHealth one of the solutions
Mobile technology will be one of our best allies in the future. The Cybercitizen Health US study carried out by Manhattan Research in the United States last year shows that 95 million people made use of their mobile phones last year to consult health-related matters or to use one of the sensors or devices that can monitor constants and store and send data to their doctors.
Simply encouraging this remote self-monitoring by patients can save around 36,000 million dollars worldwide in 2018, according to the study Mobile Health & Fitness, Monitoring, App-enabled Devices & Cost Savings 2013-2018 created by Juniper Networks. This same year it is also calculated that 5 million disposable medical sensors will be made in the world, and that health devices and monitors will account for half of the wireless devices in the world.
In this context, Josep M. Piqué agrees that “we need to make far-reaching organizational changes, but technology is offering us new ways to improve our work every day, and to achieve better health and quality of life for everyone. This technology is within reach of our professionals, citizens and patients, which will make joint responsibility for health so much easier”.
MIHealth Forum, ideas and debate
In order to collaborate in the search for creative opportunities and solutions for reforming our health systems without sacrificing their virtues, MIHealth Forum will bring more that 70 speakers from different healthcare systems around the world together on the 21st and 22nd May in Barcelona to put forward suggestions and to debate with those present on the future of healthcare.