Only transformation can deliver sustainable healthcare in Europe

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Promoted content

[EIT Health]

This pandemic has called urgent attention to our healthcare systems and how we must fundamentally change the way we provide health and care as a priority, writes Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO at EIT Health.

Jan-Philipp Beck is the CEO at EIT Health, a ‘knowledge and innovation community’ (KIC) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). 

The initial COVID-19 outbreak shook global healthcare systems and in Europe, it exposed weaknesses within already overburdened health and care services. Hospitals across the continent lacked resources and preparedness. Moreover, the huge demand to accommodate the surge in admissions has led to even greater pressure on the healthcare workforce, creating a knock-on effect across all health services.

The pandemic has served to uncover just how close healthcare systems are to instability. Many of the challenges we’re seeing within healthcare due to the pandemic are not new, they have simply been magnified like never before in our lifetime. Capacity challenges, resource shortages and demands on healthcare professionals are an everyday reality for most healthcare services across Europe – when you add a pandemic into the mix, we’re reminded just how volatile the situation is.

Due to sheer necessity created by the pandemic, we’ve seen digital healthcare embraced and a surge in the adoption of technologies that can provide continuity of care without in-person visits. Previously ‘accepted’ barriers to the widespread uptake of digital solutions, such as regulatory timelines and slow adoption at national health service level, have been largely overcome; proving that we are indeed in a position to change the way we deliver healthcare. We must not lose this momentum.

Even before COVID-19, chronic disease and growing multi-morbidity, combined with an ageing population, were pushing healthcare systems to breaking point. If we are to create sustainable healthcare systems for the future, we require transformation to modernise.

At EIT Health, we believe that three areas are critical to future-proofing European healthcare – artificial intelligence (AI), new business models and high value care (HVC). This year, we’ve brought together world-leading experts to drive conversation, spark innovation and ignite action around these topics at our EIT Health Summit Series 2020, which is being brought to you virtually.

Artificial Intelligence: adopting tools to complement HCP skills

The transition to digital healthcare is pivotal to the survival of healthcare systems, delivering much-needed efficiencies, and AI is a critical part of this.

Far from replacing HCPs, AI can remove much of the administrative burden and afford more time with patients. It can also assist in the treatment decision-making process to help clinicians deliver care based on insight and data. However, complexities around data security, liability and regulation, among others, have held back the widespread adoption of AI.

Leading medical futurist, Dr Bertalan Meskó, wants people to have a clear picture of what the adoption of AI actually means. He will join Mayo Clinic Platform President, John Halamka, at the EIT Health Summit Series to discuss the adoption of AI, drawing on their experiences in Europe and across the Atlantic. We know there’s still a huge amount of work to be done, but we also know that AI cannot be something we put on the ‘too hard to adopt’ list if we’re serious about creating sustainable healthcare.

New Business Models: meet consumer demands and remain competitive

We also need to focus on ensuring the best healthcare innovations succeed. Scientific and technological breakthroughs that help create greater sustainability in healthcare need to be able to demonstrate their value in order to scale up. Traditional business models in healthcare are not always appropriate when the offering moves beyond sales volume. It is, therefore, important that as an innovation community we look to new business models that can redefine value so everybody wins.

1928 Diagnostics CEO, Kristina Lagerstedt, will be sharing her experiences in conversation with Ariel Stern, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, during the EIT Health Summit Series. We know that helping young businesses to select the right business model is key to helping them realise the potential of their innovation.

High Value Care: evidence-based transformation in patient care

Cutting-edge technology is not the only consideration when we look to transform our healthcare systems. Looking at where we can re-evaluate what we’re aiming for and reduce healthcare that doesn’t offer good value is also an extremely important tool in our arsenal. The concept of HVC refocuses healthcare by specifically targeting outcomes that matter most to patients. In doing so, we’re going beyond traditional outcome measures to ensure that resources are used more efficiently by limiting waste and making sure every touchpoint is valuable and meaningful. But how do we make this change when it impacts not only the way care is delivered, but the way care is paid for?

Organisations such as Santeon, Diabeter Nederland and Erasmus MC have already made substantial progress in helping shift the focus to delivering HVC. By sharing their experiences at the EIT Health Summit Series, we will be able to see what’s come before and follow best practice.

Towards a more sustainable future

While the pandemic continues to challenge society and our healthcare systems, we must not lose focus on the things we were ultimately all working towards: strengthening our healthcare systems to ensure sustainable healthcare in Europe. We must use the momentum created by COVID-19 as a catalyst for long-term change.

Change can be uncomfortable, but without it? Well, at best we simply stand still. Through transformation we can push forward and progress to a more sustainable healthcare future for all.

Register online now to attend the EIT Health Summit Series (24 November to 3 December) to hear from the world’s leading experts as they debate the topics of AI, new business models and high value care. And hear from Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, as she reflects on innovation across Europe and updates us on key priorities.

Subscribe to our newsletters