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409-Healthcare Priorities_article-H

Transforming the Healthcare Industry with Technology

24 May 2023

Susanne Schlagl

Head of Vodafone in Health

Over the last couple of years, the healthcare sector has clearly seen the value of digital technology. Now that we’re entering a new era of digitisation, the industry will need a more structured approach to digital investment.

The uptake of new digital health solutions and new care delivery models has surged as the sector continues to use technology to improve care for patients. Technology has enabled health and care professionals to communicate more effectively, while focusing efforts on resilience and sustainability. In 2022, we saw that video appointments went up 67%, with 92% of those who used virtual appointments feeling satisfied.

At the same time, existing workforce challenges have intensified. Recent global issues have created an increasingly overburdened healthcare workforce and there is an estimated shortage of nearly 1 million health workers in Europe.

This shows that although there has been growing investment in the digital health market, the sector must look ahead and determine the priorities that will help to transform ways of working, communicating and connecting efficiently.

Advancing digital healthcare to meet demand

During the pandemic, digital technology proved to be an effective solution to address internal and external challenges for the healthcare sector. In the face of hugely increased demands on the system, staff shortages and supply chain disruptions, the health workforce benefited from the increased use of new technologies and growth in virtual care.

Hospitals have adapted to use technology to enable better patient experiences via online medical consultations. Patients already feel that the use of technology has helped to give them a sense of safety and support, keeping them in touch with doctors and patient communities. In the near future, patients will also be able to benefit from digitised patient records and health data which will help to strengthen the connectivity of the workforce.

A great example of future digital developments lies in the area of mental health support, where the convenience and flexibility of virtual care will give patients the opportunity to address their needs and develop general wellbeing through apps as opposed to face-to-face contact.

Upgrading the current healthcare model

Recent pressures on the system have highlighted the weaknesses of current healthcare models in 
Europe, while technology helped to address these challenges. For example, Germany has one of the longest length of a hospital stay in Europe, caused by the reimbursement system. The results show that the sector is evolving to become more patient-centric and driven by data and technology.

The current fee-for-service model involves waiting for patients to get sick, which is both harmful for patients and expensive for providers. In order to improve the effectiveness of the system, a shift towards more preventative, personalised and participatory care is needed, whilst a huge opportunity to reduce costs can be found in the movement of care from hospital to home.

Governments, healthcare providers and technology companies across Europe have an active role to play in this transformation and must collaborate to deliver on initiatives and priorities that enhance digital health delivery and access to care.

Remote patient monitoring, for example, will be useful for hospitals to decrease mounting care costs and free up beds for patients when they are discharged earlier. Cloud-based applications provide greater reliability and scale at lower cost, helping to effectively meet the changing demands of stakeholders.

Technology has the potential to reduce the length of stay for patients in hospitals, to ensure they are discharged without unnecessary delay and increase patient satisfaction. Additionally, citizens can be given secure access to their health data and receive personalised medicine through shared data infrastructure. Patients are also likely to feel empowered with digital tools to look after their own health, interact within their community and enable feedback.

Although emerging technologies such as 5G, AI IoT and Edge Computing are not yet widely adopted by healthcare organisations, these solutions can also improve access and the quality of care across the sector by providing real-time data and connectivity.

Vodafone in Health

With healthcare systems increasingly stretched and overburdened, we must find new ways of delivering health services efficiently and effectively. The future of healthcare therefore relies on fit-for-purpose technology infrastructure. 

This is where Vodafone in Health comes in – creating the foundations to enable digital healthcare. Through Vodafone in Health, Vodafone is bringing together its state-of-the-art digital infrastructure with an ecosystem of best-in-breed healthcare technology partners to implement connected health solutions. Designed for the needs of hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers, Vodafone is supporting the sector to streamline operations, relieve pressures on staff and create more time for patient care.

From creating Europe’s first 5G clinic, enabling next generation medicine at the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD), to joining leading researchers to explore 6G Health apps, Vodafone is already driving innovation in the healthcare industry. The company connects more medical devices than any other company globally outside of China. Operating Europe’s largest 5G network and recognised by Gartner as a Leader for Network Services & Managed IoT Connectivity Services and a Visionary for Managed Mobility Services, Vodafone is bringing its expertise in connecting people, data and devices to support the healthcare industry.

Read more about how Vodafone is revolutionising the healthcare industry here.

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