“Technology should be one of the cornerstones of improving health care quality” – Science

The barometer data indicates that 84% of organizations have at least one project implemented in the field of telehealthTaking into account the various technological tools that exist for consultation, remote monitoring of patients, diagnosis and training. But it has also been determined Training, investment and technology resource needs that promote a vision in which citizens have access to high-quality health care, regardless of their location.

In an interview with SAPO TEKPhilippa ColeMember of the Executive Board of glint, explains how digital health has accelerated in the past two years and warns that solutions are necessary to achieve maturity. The prospects for using artificial intelligence, in projects already implemented or still under trial, are also part of the points covered.

Sabo Tech: How has Digital Health evolved in the past two years? What is the impact of COVID-19?

Philippa Cole: Regarding the adoption of certain technologies and tools in the health services in Portugal, Technological conditions were already in place before the pandemic, but the pandemic context and urgent action forced a “cultural change” and processes so that a citizen focus became an effective reality.. Thus, the spread of SARS-coV-2 has accelerated the digital transformation of the health sector, with a direct impact on the entire ecosystem, from hospital units to our homes. Teleconsultation has conclusively established itself as an essential means of ensuring greater equity in the provision of health care as well as the sustainability of the system..

The digital transformation that we are all witnessing in healthcare is a result of the positive impact of technology in this field and here is why: Telemedicine, medical devices capable of artificial intelligence, 5G or agitation are just a few examples of digital transformation in healthcare. This is completely reshaping the way we interact with healthcare professionals, how our data is shared between providers, or simply how decisions about treatment plans and health outcomes are made.

The concept of innovation is undoubtedly the main point here, the goal Simplify the work of different health professionals, improve systems, and improve health outcomes for everyoneMinimizing human error and reducing costs through virtual experiments. On the other hand, by incorporating technology can be obtained Better management of health care, ensuring the principle of equity, benefits all citizens without exception and without marginalizing those who are at great distances from large urban centers or who experience greater economic hardship.

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual tools in the context of health, well-being and disease management. It is important to analyze and define the technologies that have been implemented and the results they have provided and how we will ensure their continuity in a comprehensive way so that they generate value for the health system in the balanced management of demand and supply of health services.

Sabo Tech: Are health institutions more prepared for remote consultations? And what about the citizens? Do digital barriers still exist, or have they forcibly been overcome in the past two years?

Philippa Cole: Compared to 2019, where 75% of organizations implemented at least one project in the telehealth area, with Telerastreio being the most used area, this second version of the Barometer indicates a clear increase in institutions that implemented at least one telehealth project (84 % in 2022). Tele-consulting is the most used area of ​​telehealth (96%), followed by telemonitoring (63%) and telediagnosis (39%).

Institutions cite the main barriers to the development of telehealth services to low literacy in telehealth (61%); Lack of motivation for professionals to adopt telehealth (48%) and lack of training for professionals (33%).

However, the global world of respondents consider telehealth a priority for their organization (56%); enhances the relationship between the user and the health professional (51%); It plays a very important role in remote monitoring of chronic patients (90%); Promotes better disease self-management (85%); It allows for a reduction in readmissions to hospital (77%) and indicates the sharing of clinical data by telemedicine as a dynamic that promotes adequate guidance and therapeutic adherence (75%).

However, if it was previously identified that 64% of consumers said it was more convenient to access virtual health, now, more than ever, It makes perfect sense to develop and adopt digital solutions in this sector. Effectively, most digital health professionals, users and providers of information systems are aware that there is a world of opportunity regarding the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and telemedicine in the health sector. However, It is imperative that these tools gain maturity, as well as invest in the reliability and usability of this type of solutionso that more and more health professionals and hospital administrators can introduce them to their daily lives and, above all, be used by each individual.

Investing in continuous training of health professionals and managers, in information and communication technologies, opening health units to innovation and co-creating new solutions is crucial for Portugal to transform health management into an effective commitment to prevention and the inclusion of all citizens and health professionals.

Sabo Tech: How is AI used in health and what is the potential for reducing bureaucratic work for health professionals?

Philippa Cole: According to this second edition of the Barometer, The most applied and developed areas compared to 2019 are phonemic transcription, which is still the area with the largest application with 30%. Followed by scheduling of clinical activities, and image interpretation, both with 24% of health institutions implementing these dynamics.

On the part of citizens, the adoption of technology that allows them to control their health and well-being has also increased, and its adoption has accelerated during the past two years of the pandemic.. By 2021, 1 in 4 Americans will own a smartwatch or “fitness bracelet.” The rate of adoption of these smart devices is similar to what we saw with smartphones between 1990-2010 (The Economist, May 7-13, 2022). This means that Increasingly, everyone will demand a two-way relationship with health units, with health professionalswith the pushers and demands to strengthen the increasingly broader health ecosystem through information and communication technology.

However, regarding the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, There are some impediments that are seen as real obstacles to the relevant establishment and subsequent integration. Some examples are the training of health teams and professionals in ICT and data science and the impact of using data to make decisions based on information and knowledge. On the other hand, the For technological innovation to continue to become a reality, it is important that the experience for healthcare professionals and patients is continuously improved And it works as a real partnership. To this end, it is necessary to strengthen the technological infrastructure of public and private institutions, to enhance the digital knowledge of every citizen, especially adults, and for the commitment to innovation and new financing models to become a reality.

Also according to the study EIT Health, in partnership with McKinsey & CompanyAI can revolutionize healthcare, through better outcomes in monitoring, patient experience and access to healthcare services, through improved productivity and efficiency. at the moment This technology, in the field of health, is already applied in diagnostics, however, in the next five to ten yearsHealthcare professionals expect clinical decision making to become the most relevant digital application.

In this sense, from the point of view of the hospital management, AI can also help managers in decision-making, by analyzing information and traversing the data available in different information systems. AI-based tools focused on providing information to hospital managers regarding the implementation of the most effective strategies, based on analysis of emergency attacks, along with influenza activity reports from the same years, for example, could also be developed. Having this foreknowledge, the answers Viral disease cases, such as Covid-19 and influenza, can be planned in advance in a more efficient and effective manner, allowing foreseeing the need to allocate a certain number of health professionals and family, As well as anticipating drug consumption.

In fact, artificial intelligence allows the development of innovative tools. An example is virtual health assistants, which can be personal trainers to the patient himself. They can also provide information and even be a companion in the case of patients, and at the same time, they play an important role in supporting less specialized care.

However, This version of the barometer indicates that there are obstacles to the implementation of artificial intelligence, and the absence of “data scientists” (55%)scarcity of financial resources (39%) and lack of technological infrastructure (28%).

As facilitating dynamics, health entities (responders) chose the need for AI potential to be recognized by health professionals at 55%; Inclusion of artificial intelligence in its strategic plan increased by 41%. Data availability and quality are 35% higher.

The use of data in health is still in its infancy, but its potential is very promising, If we ensure that the digital maturity of organizations is guided by a reference architecture that includes in its genesis the interoperability of information systems and the definition of what data should be stored, what is its meaning and what is its end goal. The AI allows for the expansion and enhancement of the work of health professionals that will always be essential and will never be replaced by technology.

Technology should be one of the cornerstones for improving the quality of health care, satisfying health professionals in their daily lives, by being able to inform in a timely manner of relevant information, and being the guarantor of societies. more sustainable.

in health, Portugal can and should assert itself as a digital front that boosts the economy Through a healthier and more empowered community.

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