AstraZeneca has initiated a foray into the burgeoning field of health technology with the introduction of its new subsidiary, Evinova. Officially unveiled this past Monday (20th of November, 2023), Evinova is poised to redefine how clinical trials are conducted for biotechnology entities, pharmaceutical corporations, and Contract Research Organisations (CROs). By integrating digital health solutions, Evinova aims to significantly curtail the duration and financial outlay required in the medicine development process.
With Evinova’s debut, AstraZeneca has announced several key partnerships. CROs Parexel and Fortrea are set to incorporate Evinova’s digital services into their operations. Furthermore, Evinova is working in conjunction with Accenture and Amazon Web Services to bolster the adoption of its digital products globally and enhance the scalability of its digital offerings.
Evinova will concentrate on three primary service domains within the health-tech sector. First, it will provide unified trial solutions that streamline the collection of clinical trial data, incorporating innovative digitally-enabled endpoints. This data acquisition will be supported by connected medical devices and sensors both onsite at clinical trial locations and remotely in patients’ residences. These solutions aim to bolster telehealth practices, enable remote patient monitoring, and facilitate direct-to-patient medicine dispatches.
Secondly, Evinova is channelling state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to architect optimally structured clinical trials. This involves assessing and quantifying a multitude of trial characteristics, from environmental impact to patient experience implications.
Lastly, the portfolio management services offered by Evinova seek to provide clients with a comprehensive overview of their drug development portfolio across various stages. This is achieved through predictive algorithms that forecast crucial milestones and allow study leaders to identify and rectify deviations from planned trajectories.
Cristina Duran, Evinova’s newly appointed president, expressed confidence that this strategic move will significantly advance the digital health sector. The objective is to meet the digital solution needs of healthcare professionals and regulators across the pharmaceutical landscape, ultimately enhancing patient care.
This development aligns with AstraZeneca’s recognition of the digital health market’s potential, which is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.6% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a valuation in excess of $900 billion by the end of the forecast period. Evinova stands as a testament to AstraZeneca’s adaptive innovation strategy, aiming to navigate and lead in the digital transformation era of healthcare.Read More
Dr. Richard Tytus, a seasoned medical professional from Hamilton, Ontario, has long championed the merits of virtual healthcare. Being at the helm of a family health team, which comprises around 30 healthcare experts and related professionals, he’s been an early adopter of telemedicine, even before it became a mainstream approach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discovering the Potential of Telemedicine
Driven by a commitment to cater to patients who faced physical or psychological challenges that hindered their access to healthcare, Dr. Tytus ventured into telemedicine. He recognised that certain patients were hesitant to step out of their homes due to psychological constraints, effectively limiting their medical outreach. While telephone consultations had been integrated into his practice, the introduction of video conferencing reshaped patient interactions, especially for those requiring exposure therapy.
Embracing a Comprehensive Virtual Healthcare Solution
Initially, Dr. Tytus dabbled in standard video conferencing tools to facilitate patient consultations. However, as the scope of virtual care broadened, he ventured deeper into the realm of specialised telehealth platforms. His vision was an interconnected digital space that mirrored a physical clinic: where patients could move seamlessly from reception to consultation, and even specialist evaluation if required.
Challenges he faced in the early stages of implementing telemedicine provided him with invaluable insights. For Dr. Tytus, it wasn’t merely about leveraging technology but ensuring that the essence of personal patient care wasn’t lost in the digital transition.
Choosing the Right Platform
In the vast sea of telemedicine vendors, Dr. Tytus discovered a standout platform, Banty. What distinguished Banty was not just its fortified security but also its endorsement from government entities. This validation, coupled with its successful security tests and compliance with the ISO 27001 certification, cemented its reputation for robust data protection.
Banty’s platform went beyond simple video consultations. It facilitated intra-team communication with great ease, ensured smooth transfers of patients along with their medical notes, and was adaptable to various electronic health record systems, making it highly versatile.
Dr. Tytus emphasised that one of the most significant outcomes of integrating telemedicine has been removing accessibility barriers for patients. With the hybrid model, which merges in-person and virtual consultations, they’ve achieved not only enhanced patient access but also a boost in operational efficiency.
This operational revamp has led to a tangible surge in patient consultations. Each physician in Dr. Tytus’s team now sees an additional 6-8 patients daily. This shift has also reshaped patients’ perceptions of healthcare, offering a blended approach that caters to individual patient needs.
The technology’s intuitive design has also been a boon for healthcare professionals, allowing them to focus on patient care without grappling with tech-related challenges.
Key Takeaways for Aspiring Telemedicine Adopters
For those considering a shift to telemedicine, Dr. Tytus emphasises the importance of patient usability. The system should be straightforward, minimising technical barriers. Furthermore, it should integrate seamlessly into the daily operations of healthcare professionals without a complex learning process. And, importantly, a rigid approach won’t work. The solution must be adaptable, reflecting the unique workflows of different clinics.
In conclusion, Dr. Tytus believes that the essence of telemedicine is not just technology, but the harmonious melding of technology with personalised patient care. The focus should always remain on simplifying and enhancing the healthcare experience for both patients and providers.Read More
In a groundbreaking investigation led by the team at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW), the potential and efficacy of digital platforms tailored for advanced weight management have been highlighted.
The research revolved around assessing the eagerness, acceptance, and active participation of patients on standby for their first-ever specialist weight management consultation. In the United Kingdom, specialised weight management services, often referred to as tier 3 services, offer a holistic approach to tackling obesity. These specialised services are generally anchored in hospitals or clinic facilities and bring together a diverse group of healthcare specialists. This includes dietitians, psychologists, specialist nurses, and doctors, all proficient in the realm of weight management.
For the purposes of this research, an NHS-approved digital platform named Gro Health was integrated into the service offering. This avant-garde health application propels numerous healthcare routes, with its tier 3 weight management feature, “W8Buddy”, acting as an online weight loss clinic. This feature delivers structured learning sessions, both individual and group coaching, an expansive list of over 2,000 recipes and meal schedules, and tools for health and nutrition tracking to chart progress.
The study drew in 199 prospective patients eagerly waiting for their appointment at the NHS Trust’s tier 3 weight management service.
Preliminary results indicate that over half of these individuals expressed genuine interest in the application. An impressive one-third went on to actively engage with the digital platform, highlighting the immense potential of such digital interventions in the specialised weight management scenario.
The engagement analysis unearthed intriguing data points. Those prone to emotional eating or those with an escalated BMI exhibited an increased propensity towards the Gro Health application. Meanwhile, aspects like age, ethnic background, and metabolic indicators like glycemia and lipid readings did not notably sway the interest.
These findings could serve as a blueprint for revolutionising weight management strategy. As digital healthcare tools evolve and gain traction, they stand poised as formidable and expansive strategies to confront the global issue of obesity.
Charlotte Summers, a behavioural change expert and the Founding Chief Operations Officer, expressed her enthusiasm, noting, “The pronounced interest demonstrated by patients in the Gro Health W8Buddy tool for weight management is truly heartening.”
She drew attention to the evident link between emotional eating, a raised BMI, and heightened engagement, highlighting, “This relationship underscores the transformative capacity of precise digital strategies in addressing weight-related concerns.”
Summers further elaborated on the journey ahead, “As we venture into providing tier 3 and 4 weight management services, we’re thrilled about tailoring these platforms with firsthand insights from both patients and healthcare providers. Such a collaborative effort not only champions a patient-driven model but also deepens our grasp on their preferences and anticipations. This, in turn, empowers us to offer top-tier, accurate care, be it through enhancing conventional healthcare avenues or pioneering virtual healthcare experiences.”
The study’s authors stress the need for continued exploration into understanding the challenges and motivators behind adopting digital tools and emphasise the importance of rigorously assessing their impact within specialised weight management services.
The rise of digital health platforms is sculpting the future of healthcare. This specific investigation underscores the transformative power of such tools, all while highlighting the necessity to unravel the complexities of patient engagement. As we witness the proliferation and capabilities of digital health platforms, the persistent quest to maximise their utility for patients and the broader healthcare spectrum is paramount.
Stay tuned for more revelations as ongoing studies continue to sculpt this rapidly evolving domain of weight management.Read More
In a significant report released by WHO Europe, there’s an emphasised call for an immediate boost in investments towards digital health literacy across the region.
The report, titled “Digital Health in the European Region: The Ongoing Commitment to Transformation,” sheds light on a concerning statistic: only half of the countries spanning Europe and Central Asia have rolled out policies tailored to bolster digital health literacy. This oversight leaves a considerable portion of the population in the shadows, devoid of the benefits of evolving digital healthcare platforms.
The landscape of healthcare has experienced a monumental shift in the WHO European Region over recent times, as is evident from the burgeoning adoption rate of digital health solutions. This transformation has redefined the dynamics of patient care.
Released during the Second WHO Symposium on the Future of Health Systems in a Digital Era held for the European Region, the report encompasses insights from all 53 member nations. Many countries within this bracket witnessed a spontaneous surge in the creation and deployment of digital health tools and policies due to the pressing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – a time dominated by lockdowns and social distancing mandates. This led to the broader acceptance of telemedicine services and the advent of user-centric health applications. However, the report firmly stresses that the journey is far from complete.
A pressing concern is the evident disparity in the adoption and assimilation of digital health solutions across the region. This “digital health divide” implies that a staggering number of individuals are yet to harness the potential benefits of digital health advancements.
Diving deeper, the report draws attention to several pivotal areas:
- Of the countries surveyed, 44 have an established national digital health strategy.
- A unanimous consensus is seen with all 53 member nations having legislation that focuses on protecting individual data privacy.
- However, there’s a considerable disparity in the preparedness and execution, with only 19 countries offering guidance on evaluating the efficacy and safety of digital health initiatives.
- Slightly above 50% of these countries have put forth policies advocating digital health literacy and have set into motion a digital inclusion agenda.
- The pandemic saw 30 countries devising legislation to champion the cause of telehealth.
- An area that requires immediate attention is the oversight of mobile health (mHealth) applications. Many nations lack a dedicated body to ensure the quality, safety, and reliability of these apps. A mere 15% have reported systematic evaluations of state-backed mHealth initiatives.
- Just above half of the countries have strategised the application of Big Data and avant-garde analytics within the healthcare domain.
Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, opined on the matter, “In numerous nations, the growth trajectory of digital health platforms has been somewhat sporadic. This approach warrants an overhaul. It’s imperative to perceive digital health as a long-term, strategic investment, rather than a fleeting addition or a privilege enjoyed by a select few. It is a clarion call for our political and health leaders to strategically invest in the digital health infrastructure of tomorrow, today.”Read More
In a recent announcement, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed its plans to allocate £30 million for state-of-the-art technology aimed at enhancing services provided by the NHS. This funding is anticipated to play a pivotal role in reducing patient wait times, expediting the diagnostic process, and introducing novel patient treatment methodologies.
The DHSC, on its website, highlighted that such financial backing is expected to alleviate some of the operational burdens the NHS might face during the upcoming winter season. Notably, the funds could potentially be utilised to expand 3D diagnostics, thus expediting cancer screenings, and to implement innovative logistic solutions such as drone deliveries.
Moreover, another significant avenue the investment could support is the augmentation of virtual wards. This would allow more patients to receive essential care within the comfort of their homes, ensuring hospital beds remain available for those in acute need. To date, the NHS has successfully established over 9,800 virtual ward beds, with plans to achieve the 10,000 bed milestone before winter strikes.
Regions throughout England can access this funding. Integrated care systems (ICSs) have been tasked with submitting proposals to both the DHSC and NHSE detailing how they would best leverage the technology. The application process is set to commence shortly.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, emphasised the government’s commitment to ensuring the medical fraternity is equipped with cutting-edge technology, stating, “From virtual ward beds to wearable medical devices, this new funding is a testament to our dedication to enhancing patient care, preparing for winter, and relieving hospital pressures.”
In addition to supporting the use of wearable devices that monitor vital signs and aid in the management of chronic ailments, ICSs might channel investments into advanced digital imaging, a move that would undoubtedly bolster diagnostic capabilities, especially in the realms of cancer detection and other severe illnesses.
Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS’s interim national director of transformation, applauded the NHS’s innovative prowess, stating that such tech advancements have already positively impacted over 210,000 patients through virtual ward setups. Ellie Kearney, a spokesperson from the Health Tech Alliance, welcomed the financial boost but also expressed some members’ discontent with certain previous funding strategies.
In further developments, the DHSC referenced the Medical Technology Strategy they unveiled earlier in the year, which laid down a roadmap for enabling patient access to secure, efficient, and pioneering tech via the NHS. This latest £30 million injection builds upon a prior £21 million allocation towards AI diagnostic tools.
This strategic funding alignment is in sync with the government’s overarching vision for fortifying the NHS, especially with the challenges that winter typically brings. In addition to this tech fund, the government, in September, infused £200 million into the NHS, aiming to fortify its resilience. The Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, rolled out at the beginning of the year, pledges to furnish 5,000 more hospital beds, 10,000 virtual ward beds, and 800 brand-new ambulances, supported by an impressive £1 billion fund.Read More
The world of dermatology is set to experience transformative improvements in patient care, thanks to the integration of Digital Health Interventions (DHIs). This finding is a result of a systematic review and mapping study undertaken recently by researchers.
DHIs, as catalogued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, span a broad range of digital tools encompassing telemedicine, mobile health apps, wearable tech, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. One of the standout benefits of telemedicine as a DHI, as highlighted by the research of Reinders et al, includes notable merits like significantly shortened waiting periods, heightened levels of patient satisfaction, and diagnostic precision on par with traditional methods.
Reinders and team elucidated that DHIs bring about enhancements through a plethora of channels. These channels range from harnessing data analytics to refine decision-making in both diagnosis and treatment, fostering effective communication among stakeholders in patient care, and bolstering patient self-management in chronic conditions. Additionally, DHIs also play a pivotal role in the proactive promotion of health-conscious behaviours.
In their quest to dive deeper into DHIs and their application in dermatology, the team undertook a comprehensive review of the MEDLINE (PubMed) database in August 2022. Their search parameters encompassed a wide range of terms, including but not limited to “digital health,” “eHealth,” “mHealth,” and specific dermatological conditions. To ensure contemporary relevance, studies before 2010 were not considered for the analysis due to the swift pace of technological progression post that period.
In terms of selection criteria, the team opted for studies that embraced quantitative methods. Additionally, studies that explored AI algorithms’ prowess were required to benchmark these algorithms against the conventional, human-driven standard of care, either in a practical real-world scenario or within a commercially available software framework.
To ensure rigorous evaluation, a consortium of 2 to 3 experts, depending on the study’s complexity, assessed the relevance and fit of all collated studies. This assessment encapsulated a diverse range of attributes, from the study’s design, origin, and participant count to its specific focus on DHI as per WHO’s classifications.
After meticulous scrutiny, a total of 403 studies were integrated into the final review. A remarkable insight was the discernible surge in DHI-centric research in recent times, predominantly in the domains of store-and-forward (S&F) teledermatology and AI-driven image analytics. A significant emphasis was noted on skin cancer identification, with 148 studies specifically focusing on this area. Other dermatological conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and wounds, also featured in DHI studies, albeit to a lesser extent.
In their concluding remarks, Reinders and team observed, “The momentum in DHI-focused studies is palpable, with an accelerating trend over the recent years. This acceleration is primarily driven by advancements in S&F teledermatology and AI applications, with a pronounced focus on skin cancer diagnosis and its intersection with healthcare providers. The gamut of DHIs evaluated across diverse user groups and varied use-cases underscores the immense potential DHIs hold for dermatology’s future. Yet, to harness the full spectrum of DHIs’ potential, there’s an evident need for deeper research, especially in areas like ongoing management of chronic skin conditions and efficient patient triage.”Read More
A recent study spearheaded by Xealth in 2023 underscores a significant shift towards digital health solutions among members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The survey, carried out from May to June, highlighted that an overwhelming 90% of CHIME members are now leaning into digital health strategies. This robust adoption rate prevails in spite of challenges such as fiscal constraints and limitations in staffing resources.
Delving deeper into the findings, a significant 81% of participants have seamlessly integrated digital health tools within their Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Meanwhile, a noteworthy 19.1% claim to have not only achieved EHR integration of digital health platforms but also set distinct objectives and performance metrics surrounding them.
Mike McSherry, at the helm of Xealth as CEO and co-founder, expressed his insights on the matter. “The healthcare sector is typically perceived as resistant to rapid transformation. Yet, the swift embrace of digital health solutions is a testament to its increasing relevance and potential. It’s heartening to observe the overarching endorsement from top-tier management in health establishments. The correlation between digital health strategies and both the growth in bottom-line and reduction in readmissions is becoming pronounced. As digital initiatives continue to evolve, we anticipate these figures to further accentuate.”
The survey also shed light on several pivotal insights:
- A large majority, 81%, perceive digital health as encompassing apps and platforms that can be downloaded and used in conjunction with a dedicated device. This is closely trailed by digital tools for patient education, such as downloadable PDFs and video resources (excluding clinical references), accounting for 71.4%.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and stand-alone downloadable apps and platforms (which don’t necessitate a connected device) are recognised as integral components of digital health by two-thirds (66.7%) of those surveyed.
- An encouraging 76.2% of participants emphasised that their health systems witnessed a surge in patient involvement and interaction courtesy of enhanced digital health strategies. A considerable 47.6% credited the uptick in digital health tools for facilitating clinicians’ tasks and ensuring ease of operations.
- A positive fiscal performance coupled with decreased patient readmissions due to ramped-up digital health utilisation was confirmed by 14.3% of respondents.
- The primary drivers prompting health establishments to expand their digital health footprint were identified as increased funding from payers or employers (81%), heightened patient demand (71.4%), improved system compatibility and integration ease (66.7%), the establishment of clear CPT codes dedicated to digital interventions (42.9%), and the growing availability of clinical proof validating digital interventions (33.3%).
Interestingly, none of the participants identified a lack of endorsement from C-level executives or diminishing patient engagement as impediments in their digital health adoption journey.Read More
In a significant announcement made during the Health Minister’s Meeting of the G20 Summit, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined forces with the G20 India presidency to introduce the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH). This noteworthy event was held under the aegis of the Government of India.
Designed as an acronym pronounced “guide”, the GIDH serves a dual purpose. Primarily, it will function as a network and platform managed by WHO to bolster the execution of the Global Strategy on Digital Health spanning from 2020 to 2025. Furthermore, WHO is entrusted with the responsibility of acting as the Secretariat, whose role is to synchronise global standards, assimilate best practices, and marshal resources. The ultimate objective is to expedite the transformation of the digital health system on a global scale.
The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed gratitude towards the G20 nations and the G20 India Presidency for acknowledging WHO’s unparalleled capabilities in this sector. He underscored WHO’s dedication to this cause, emphasising, “It necessitates the collective effort of the G20, development allies, and global institutions to realise our shared vision. WHO is firmly committed to augmenting countries’ capacities, aiming to enhance the availability of reliable digital solutions. Our vision is a future that epitomises health, safety, and equity.”
India’s Union Health Minister, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, reflecting on the event, stated, “This day will be etched in the annals of the G20 Health Working Group’s history. The member countries not only recognised a pressing priority but also collaborated fervently to bring it to fruition.” He went on to highlight that the Global Initiative on Digital Health is a pivotal achievement during India’s tenure as the G20 Presidency.
Tracing back to 2005, the inception of the WHO resolution on ehealth paved the way for the development and endorsement of the WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health. Since then, an impressive tally of over 120 WHO member nations have conceptualised and implemented a national digital health strategy or policy.
The unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the potency of digital health interventions. While numerous nations leveraged digital health tools, many articulated a pressing need. Their focus shifted from mere product-centric and experimental digital health ventures to a more structured national digital health framework. This framework would encompass effective governance, comprehensive policy guidelines, and a skilled health workforce adept at selecting, maintaining, and tailoring digital health solutions.
The GIDH has charted a clear roadmap for its mission, which includes:
- Crafting well-defined, priority-centric investment blueprints for the digital health evolution.
- Enhancing the visibility and reporting of digital health assets.
- Encouraging the dissemination of knowledge and fostering collaboration across diverse geographies to catalyse growth.
- Championing unified government-led strategies for digital health governance at the national level.
- Augmenting both technical and monetary backing for the roll-out of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 and its subsequent phases.
In a testament to its commitment, WHO, along with its partners, declared significant pledges both in monetary terms and resources from a diverse set of stakeholders, marking the grand unveiling of the GIDH.
The promise of digital health is profound. It is viewed as a catalyst propelling improved health outcomes, aligned with the aspiration of achieving Universal Health Coverage and the health-centric Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The myriad benefits of digital health range from empowering individuals on their health odysseys, facilitating healthcare providers in adhering to best practices and delivering exemplary care, to invigorating the entire health infrastructure through optimised supply chains and effective workforce administration.Read More
Set to transform patient care, the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub is a groundbreaking £4 million project with ambitious goals. It aims to revolutionise the treatment and diagnosis of diseases for a population of 1.4 million people living in a region heavily impacted by high disease prevalence and pronounced health inequalities. This initiative, led by the University of Sheffield, leverages innovative digital technologies to shape the future of healthcare.
Utilising state-of-the-art tools and techniques, the hub intends to pioneer cutting-edge research using data gleaned from smartphones, wearables, novel sensors, and the National Health Service (NHS) data. In addition to these, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in the development of new clinical tools. This paradigm shift is set to redefine personalised patient care and facilitate disease management effectively.
The South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub has an impressive roster of partners, including Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, local General Practitioners (GPs), mental health services, the Sheffield Integrated Care System, businesses, and patient and public groups. The collective intelligence of these stakeholders will forge a robust knowledge pool, capitalising on the region’s existing prowess in developing digital health technologies.
The Hub, among five across the UK, has been granted part of £16.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Health Ageing and Wellbeing and Tackling Infections UKRI Strategic Themes. This financial backing aims to address four central healthcare challenges: antimicrobial resistance, disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention, out-of-hospital care, and tackling health disparities through the development and deployment of digital healthcare technologies.
The project targets both urban and rural populations, working towards addressing the unique healthcare needs shaped by significant health and social inequalities. Simultaneously, it offers a blueprint for stimulating economic growth in the region through digital skills training, networking, and knowledge exchange, bridging various stakeholders in the digital health sphere.
The South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub also proposes to deliver specialist health training online, accessible freely to researchers, clinicians, patients, and the public. Professor Tim Chico, Director of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Sheffield, underscored the urgency of this investment. He emphasised the critical role of this state-of-the-art health technology research in tackling health disparities and high disease burden, including heart and lung diseases, cancer, and mental health issues prevalent in the region.
Echoing his sentiments, Professor Steve Haake, Deputy Director of the Digital Health Hub, envisions a future where digital health tools leverage real-time data from daily life. This transformation empowers patients and healthcare professionals to make informed decisions in a timely manner. Under the aegis of the hub, patients, clinicians, companies, and the public will have the autonomy to design their own apps and tools, bolstering their successful integration within the NHS.
Local authorities have thrown their weight behind the establishment of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub. Oliver Coppard, Mayor of the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, hailed the initiative as an instrumental step towards confronting health inequalities plaguing the region. He lauded the collaborative efforts between the NHS, universities, and the business community in highlighting South Yorkshire’s cutting-edge health and wellbeing sector, asserting its role as a global frontrunner in healthcare innovation.
Forming part of a more extensive £36.5 million investment in healthcare technology from the EPSRC, the Digital Healthcare Hubs, including the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, aim to spearhead innovative healthcare solutions. By leveraging advancements in robotics, computer modelling, and imaging, these hubs are set to redefine healthcare outcomes.
The South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, with its robust collaboration among diverse stakeholders and focus on digital technologies, stands at the forefront of healthcare innovation. By addressing gaps in healthcare delivery and harnessing digital innovation, the hub holds significant promise in reshaping patient care, not only in South Yorkshire but far beyond its borders.Read More
“Digital health will just be healthcare”: Hospital chiefs predict seamless integration of healthcare and technology
Leading digital authorities within the healthcare sector foresee a more virtual, automated, and user-friendly health system in five years. Their vision includes seamless digital integration, a feature which has already begun to take shape across many hospitals, according to industry leaders interviewed by Becker’s, a leading healthcare publication.
Daniel Barchi, executive vice president and CIO of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, equates the evolution of digital health with the development of e-commerce, noting that just as electronic commerce became a mainstream aspect of business, so too will digital health simply become “health”. CommonSpirit, operating 143 hospitals in 22 states, is embracing this digital evolution by using its size and mission to leverage digital population health tools. These tools aggregate data to assist clinicians and patients in managing health and wellness.
Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health’s executive vice president and chief information and digital officer, Nassar Nizami, expects to see a broad adoption, integration, and implementation of several technologies within the next five years. He asserts that digital health signifies a cultural revolution within traditional healthcare. The organisation is investing in enhancing its existing AI technology, which aids physicians in assessing cancer risk in lumps or nodules, stroke risk in CT scans, and the potential requirement for blood transfusions in patients. Moreover, the organisation is utilising automation in areas such as IT, human resources, sourcing and in its virtual nursing initiative. Jefferson’s telemedicine program, JeffConnect, showcases the effective use of mobile health and remote patient monitoring, and has served as a model for other healthcare systems.
Brenton Burns, executive vice president of UPMC Enterprises, points out that Pittsburgh-based UPMC is targeting increased access to care and efficiencies through automation in various departments, including call centres and scheduling. He emphasises that digital tools have enabled the healthcare provider to extend beyond traditional settings, offering care through diverse channels such as telemedicine and home visits. Accessible and interoperable data, he insists, are vital to success.
Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health is also increasing its digital capacity, while concurrently assisting other health systems through its digital health subsidiary, Accrete Health Partners. Jason Szczuka, the organisation’s chief digital officer, describes how they are developing, investing, and partnering with industry leaders to optimise IT operations, improve patient access to care and unlock crucial data, analytics, and automation capabilities.
New Orleans-based Ochsner Health plans to expand its asynchronous virtual tools such as e-visits and e-consults, enhance its online scheduling system, and bolster its AI and remote monitoring capabilities, explains Denise Basow, MD, executive vice president and chief digital officer. The organisation is utilising technology to predict and prevent health issues, deliver personalised care, manage patients efficiently, and reduce total healthcare costs.
Orlando Health, in Florida, is investing in its foundational IT platforms, infrastructure, data, and analytics to enhance the connection between providers and patients, regardless of their geographical location. Novlet Mattis, the organisation’s senior vice president and chief digital and information officer, reveals plans for an enterprise digital platform infused with clinical decision support tools. She envisions digital health as a standard element of health and wellness management in five years, rather than a novel innovation.
Kelly Jo Golson, executive vice president and chief brand, communications and consumer experience officer at Charlotte, N.C.-based Advocate Health, affirms that their recent merger with Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health has enabled an acceleration in digital transformation. For Advocate Health, consumer-centricity is paramount. The strategy includes a flexible, dynamic platform that provides consistent experiences, simple scheduling, interconnected programs for remote patient monitoring, and the incorporation of 24-7 virtual access into clinical workflows.
Ardent Health Services, based in Nashville, Tenn., is endeavouring to make care easier to access, whether in-person or digital. The chief consumer officer, Reed Smith, predicts that in the future, digital health will be synonymous with healthcare, without any segregation in delivery methods. He anticipates that consumers will have more control, and healthcare providers will be able to offer more support, especially for less critical needs, as care delivery adapts to accommodate more individual, do-it-yourself approaches.Read More
Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the digital revolution in the wellness industry, propelling improvements in patient care, overall experience, and sustainable health development to match international standards.
The Kingdom’s strategic focus is to reorganise its healthcare sector, augmenting its potential to operate as a cohesive, value-driven ecosystem centred around patient health.
To accomplish these lofty objectives, Saudi Arabia is dedicated to substantial investments in the health technology industry. Reflecting the government’s commitment to this initiative, the 2023 budget allocates more than SR180 billion ($50.3 billion) to healthcare and social development.
A significant portion of this budget is channelled towards digital health strategies to promote accessibility, efficiency, and transparency within the healthcare system.
One such initiative is the establishment of a national electronic health record system, serving as a comprehensive database for patient data. This ensures nationwide access for medical professionals, facilitating smooth collaboration and expedited decision-making.
The Kingdom is also prioritising investments in telemedicine platforms to guarantee healthcare access even in isolated regions.
Under its Vision 2030 plan, the government is also aiming to privatise the healthcare industry, focusing its efforts on 290 government hospitals and 2,300 primary health centres within the Kingdom.
In a conversation with Arab News, Jalil Allabadi, CEO of Amman-based digital health platform Altibbi, clarified that the government’s initiatives to decentralise would significantly improve the sector and boost healthcare technology.
Allabadi shared that larger institutions and corporations are developing their health tech solutions, while smaller companies are focusing on the consumer end.
He emphasised that as hospitals and clinical centres move towards decentralisation, they will concentrate on profit generation. This shift will motivate the adoption of healthcare technology for automation and digitisation of their operations, enhancing efficiency.
Altibbi, one of the largest digital health platforms in the Middle East, has raised over $52.4 million in funding since its launch.
In line with the Kingdom’s focus on preventive health services and reducing reliance on hospital care, the aim is to digitise 70 percent of patient activities by 2030.
According to Allabadi, digital health consultations and activities are still in the early stages compared to the Vision 2030’s targets, but growth is “happening very fast.”
Startups are invigorating the health tech sector by integrating digital tools such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics into healthcare services for more effective prediction, prevention, and disease management.
Saudi Arabia’s health tech sector offers a blueprint for a future where digital health solutions are integral to comprehensive and patient-focused care. This groundbreaking transformation represents not only an investment in the health of its citizens but also a stimulus for economic diversification and sustainable development.
Chronic diseases, prevalent among the elderly, are a significant concern. A report by the Saudi government estimates that by 2050, 25 percent of its projected 40 million population will be 60 or older, necessitating an overhaul in healthcare delivery.
In conversation with Arab News, Sacha Haider, a partner at the UAE-based venture capital firm Global Ventures, explains that the next evolution in Saudi health tech focuses on preventive healthcare and longevity.
Haider elaborates that regular consultations and check-ins will significantly energise health tech and digital health in the Kingdom.
In the post-COVID-19 era, the industry has embraced digital technologies to enhance patient experiences and improve care quality. Saudi-based platforms like Nala and Cura are leading examples of successful digital health services companies, offering a range of services from instant consultations to tailored digital care programs.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has introduced apps like Mawid, Tabaud, and Seha, which offer virtual consultations, effectively reducing the need for in-person hospital visits.
The advent of express clinics within pharmacies, providing immediate primary care services, is another trend gaining traction. These clinics offer services ranging from consultation, blood glucose and blood pressure measurements, skincare analysis, weight management, and vaccination.
Global data firm Statista projects the digital health market in Saudi Arabia to grow by 9.06 percent from 2023 to 2027, culminating in a market volume of $1.16 billion.Read More
As medical institutions hasten their journey towards digital modernisation, many fail to address crucial transformations in key areas such as personnel, technology, cultural ethos, and procedural workflows, necessary for the success of their digital initiatives, says Kathy Narain, Chief Digital Officer at Hoag Hospital based in Newport Beach, California.
According to a 2020 study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, a reputable management consulting firm, it is observed that victorious digital transitions are fairly uncommon. Across various industries, a mere 30% of digital transformation endeavours are reportedly successful.
Ms. Narain isn’t taken aback by this statistic. “The figures aligning with success rates don’t shock me. However, the remaining 70% face a multitude of obstacles that are challenging to conquer. When an institution decides to undergo digital metamorphosis, it’s not merely about constituting a team dedicated to digital assignments. To achieve triumph, it necessitates alterations in human resources, technological infrastructure, cultural mindset, and procedural methodologies,” she explained.
Although the hurdles of digital transformation may seem formidable, Ms. Narain believes the most significant obstacles stem from areas such as leadership, outdated systems, and economic repercussions. “In the absence of endorsement from the executive panel, who are instrumental in various organisational functionalities and a transparent blueprint on how technology can bolster outcomes and cater to the future requisites of customers, transformation initiatives falter,” she stated.
The financial aspect is a significant deterrent in the pursuit of digital transformation; healthcare systems may hesitate to invest in innovative technology due to its high cost. This reluctance becomes more conspicuous as the economy wavers and hospitals grapple with declining margins.
“Transformation is expensive and time-consuming, making the investment feel like an expenditure with a return that isn’t as immediate as expected,” Ms. Narain remarked. “The capacity to adhere to the plan while still maintaining financial support for the necessary modifications is challenging for numerous organisations.”
In the healthcare realm, many hospitals and health systems are still dependent on intricate legacy systems. Investing in digital transformation implies restructuring existing workflows or procedures, which can invite resistance and pose challenges.
“Efforts to consolidate, update, and centralise technological systems and data requires a multi-year investment ridden with bouts of exasperation,” said Ms. Narain. “The ability to navigate these hurdles, while retaining the executive team’s support as it means modifying the current processes, is crucial.”Read More
Leading telecommunications entity BT aims to leverage its established presence and specialised connectivity know-how to vitalize the digital infrastructure of the UK healthcare system, and is amplifying its healthcare portfolio to meet this goal.
The corporation has spent the last two years fostering its healthcare division, instituting a clinical advisory board to guide the creation of products tailored for the NHS needs. It also initiated its Vanguard Programme, envisioned as an interactive platform that enables healthcare professionals on the frontline to test and assess technology to guarantee its compatibility with local necessities.
“Our objective is to capitalise on opportunities that complement BT’s core business of connectivity,” Neal Herman, HealthTech Director at BT’s innovation centre, Etc., shared. “Our aim revolves around connecting individuals to the appropriate care at the right moment, and every endeavour we undertake contributes towards achieving that.”
An independent unit of Etc. is testing the implementation of drone technology for medicine deliveries over BT networks, and according to Herman, drones might also be incorporated into future healthcare solutions.
Herman detailed that BT’s vision incorporates three major themes: health navigation that aids in shaping patient interactions with the healthcare system; patient flow that enables hospitals and healthcare providers to streamline patient movement within the system; and remote care.
He depicted the first category as a future where “the healthcare professional contacts you, instead of the other way around.” Health navigation is fundamentally a guiding tool that enhances digital platforms and interactive voice response (IVR) technology. Commencing at general practice, the initial point of patient access, these solutions ensure that individuals reach the suitable healthcare provider from the outset, whether it be an immediate referral to a specialist or a physiotherapy session.
Patient flow, as Herman explained, becomes effective once patients arrive at the hospital, facilitating efficient management of patient capacity by nursing staff and site managers. “It’s about offering site managers real-time data flow to track the availability of beds,” Herman noted. These solutions are presently active in northeast Essex.
The remote component of the process incorporates products that vary from wearable technology to virtual ward monitoring platforms and is currently being piloted in Warrington for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and hypertension.
Recently, BT unveiled a virtual ward initiative that will integrate smart monitoring devices and collaborations with other service providers to link artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled virtual care platforms. This will facilitate real-time health data capture and evaluation of patient conditions in care homes, community nursing, and virtual wards.
“BT excels at implementing technology on a grand scale and we possess a significant privilege to contribute,” said Professor Sultan Mahmud, BT’s Healthcare Business Director.
Having previously served as the chief innovation, integration, and research officer at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust (RWT), Mahmud joined BT in 2021. He added, “BT is adept at bridging the translational gap. This is fundamentally about achieving technical interoperability and interoperation.” A crucial objective of interoperability, he emphasised, is to ensure that technology procurement avoids “closed systems or vendor lock-in.”
Mahmud further pointed out that the company’s strategy is reflective of its commitment to assist the NHS in addressing staffing shortages and managing waiting lists. Employed effectively, remote technology can function as a tool for staff retention and aid in easing the demand for hospital beds.Read More
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a notable shift in the weight loss programmes, from conventional face-to-face interactions to telehealth interventions. A recent study published in Obesity revealed that weight loss results via telehealth for adults suffering from obesity were comparably effective to those from traditional face-to-face programmes.
Dr. Katherine M. Ross, an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida, emphasises the significance of the study. She asserts that traditional behavioural interventions can be effectively implemented through telehealth or video conferencing technologies, enabling individuals to achieve meaningful health outcomes even amid pandemic-induced disruptions.
In their study, Ross and her team sought to compare the weight loss results achieved during the pandemic’s forced transition to virtual weight loss programmes with those from traditional in-person interventions.
The research team analysed data from 147 adults with obesity who had previously participated in a randomised controlled trial, following a 16-week Diabetes Prevention Programme lifestyle intervention. The participants were divided into two groups: the first attended in-person sessions until they transitioned to a virtual platform in the 11th week, and the second group participated entirely through video conference.
An impressive 70% of the participants shed 5% or more of their starting weight, with 26.3% losing 10% or more. After 16 weeks, participants had lost an average of 7.37 kg from their initial weight, representing a reduction of 7.2% of weight from the baseline, which fell within the acceptable range indicating its equivalence with in-person interventions.
Besides aiding successful weight loss, the telehealth programme also provided valuable flexibility. This included individual problem-solving, goal setting, and regular discussions on barriers, aiding participants in navigating the unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ross, these findings suggest that telehealth interventions can be successful, and that sustainable changes in eating and exercise habits can be accomplished despite the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic.
Looking to the future, Ross suggested that subsequent research should strive to incorporate a more diverse set of participants. She highlighted that their study mostly included females and non-Hispanic white participants from relatively high income and education backgrounds. It would be critical to assess whether telehealth benefits are evenly distributed across different population groups, particularly those disproportionately affected by obesity and the pandemic, such as Black and Hispanic adults and adults from lower-income households.Read More
The journal Advances in Therapy has recently published a paper exploring the use of digital health technologies in improving obesity care.
Obesity is a complex and chronic condition that increases the risk of developing several diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. The prevalence of obesity continues to rise and poses a significant economic burden on healthcare systems worldwide. Current obesity treatment approaches tend to focus on individual responsibility, diet, and exercise, but they fail to acknowledge the complexity of the condition and the need for a whole-system approach.
A new approach is necessary that recognises the complexity of obesity and offers patient-centred, multidisciplinary care tailored to the needs of each individual. Digital transformation can significantly benefit obesity treatment, particularly through telehealth and mobile health, which can provide improved support and monitoring of behaviour change. Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) can revolutionise obesity care by enabling real-time patient monitoring and personalised interventions.
Digital health technologies offer a range of potential benefits for people with obesity, including improved quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of care at all stages, from patient assessment to treatment and ongoing monitoring and support. Telehealth and mobile health are already widely used in healthcare and can reduce barriers to effective obesity care, improve access to care, and ultimately improve long-term weight management and obesity-related health outcomes. However, equitable access to telehealth and mobile health services must be ensured for patients from the most deprived communities.
Machine learning and AI can play an increasingly important role in healthcare and provide several opportunities for obesity care. By analysing large datasets from electronic health records, healthcare professionals can enhance their understanding of obesity’s complexity, leading to improved patient assessment and personalised treatment. Additionally, AI can be applied to mobile health technologies, connected via the Internet of Medical Things, to provide real-time patient monitoring and personalised weight management interventions.
In the immediate future, the most significant digital advancement in obesity care is likely to be the increased use of telehealth support, allowing greater access to care, more frequent consultations, and longer-term support. Over time, this will increasingly be supported by mobile health apps and devices. Ultimately, interventions and ongoing support are likely to be delivered using AI technology through a chatbot or avatar.
Please read the full paper here: The Potential Role of Digital Health in Obesity CareRead More
Telehealth programs have shown to positively impact patients with knee osteoarthritis and obesity. A recent study found that these programs improve patient outcomes by providing convenient access to care, increasing patient engagement and promoting lifestyle changes. The study participants using telehealth reported higher levels of physical activity and better overall knee function compared to those who did not use telehealth. The findings highlight the potential for telehealth to improve the management of chronic conditions and the delivery of care for patients. The results also demonstrate the importance of technology in healthcare, as telehealth programs can bridge gaps in access to care and support better patient outcomes.Read More