Speakers: Cristina Spa, Albert Valeta, Oscar Sala & Patricia Ripolli
As several industries and sectors have seen the possibilities of the platform model - especially after the Covid pandemic - they have slowly moved to a digital-first approach. However, the Health System, which displays a great potential for bettering people’s lives, remains undigitalized and traditional.
We are all users of health. Not disease, health. Cristina Spa.
She believes that to be one of the main reasons why big tech corporations are starting to put efforts in the area. Moreover, the recent global pandemic has brought a higher demand of health Services. In fact, research shows that about 16% of Google searches are presently about the topic. However, as Sala says, “the current health model is based on serving the treatment, the illness. Not the patient”. A report carried out by The Collider proposes a new model of ‘Digital Health’, described as “the democratisation and humanisation of healthcare”. This would mean putting the patient in the middle and building around their needs, including them in the creation process through constant communication.
Ripoll agrees that platforms could revolutionize the health Sector as long as the priority is identifying the patients’ needs as well as the physicians’.
We have to re-shape the relationship between health professionals and patients. Then we will identify their real needs and where technology is going to improve the quality of healthcare.
This bridge between both actors in the system could be achieved through data. Valeta trusts that data is vital to personalize the patient’s experience. “It’s possible to build a platform that collects data from the patients but also the specialists so that people can get advice about their health. But we can go much further. They could know what the next steps are so that they can consciously take action”, he states. To this, Spa adds that “for the first time, we have the opportunity to manage our health status through platforms. And this is really changing paradigms’’.
According to Sala, now is the best time to innovate in the sector. “People are getting older. In fifty years’ time there will be three or four children for each ten adult people. And chronic diseases are nearly 80% of illness causes. So the present Health Model is not sustainable.” He firmly believes that “Barcelona is at the right place at the right time to build a new Digital Health Valley in Europe.” For that to become a reality, though, fundamental changes in the system must take place, starting with a change of attitude throughout the leadership of the health system.
We truly believe that it’s very important to work with multidisciplinary teams because it’s the best way to boost creativity and innovation.
This is the key to changing things, specially in health, which is a very traditional sector. It requires people from different expertises and sectors as well as industries”, says Valeta. On the same line, all participants agree that a shift in the kind of investors of the ecosystem is also a vital change. “First, we should help entrepreneurs find a real problem. And after that it’s a matter of time and scale. Money will come later”, he states.
Digitalizing the sector would involve a democratization of data too. Countries like Finland have already implemented national health databases aimed at building the Healthcare of the future. Such approaches require an improvement of data security and protection too, as well as new regulations that reduce bureaucracy and facilitate innovation and research.
However, the most important thing, according to Spa, is passion. “You have to believe in what you’re creating. And this sector is very tough, so you need to surround yourself with people who have the same motivations as you”, she concludes.
Written by: Gisela Giralt