Health and healthcare enhanced by digital technology is a crucial contributor to the future as EHFF perceives it. The digital sphere in our view is not simply, as some clinicians and many businesses see it, the domain of ‘shiny toys’ that allow you to do the same things but only faster and more efficiently. Nor do we subscribe to the tired clichés that promote digital as ‘empowering patients’ when the alleged empowerment in practice falls far short of what patents/citizens might actually want (because usually no-one remembered to ask them first).
What makes ‘digital’ exciting for us is that it represents the convergence of all of the other strands that we believe are crucial to transformational change in this area – business and the care services working together, patient empowerment (in the true sense of active, health literate engagement), innovation (again, in the sense, not of idealised novelty, but of new ways of doing things) and changes in education (of both professionals and citizens). With all these opportunities come major challenges in implementation, and for EHFF, over and above the vision of a changed landscape, the way in which these challenges are effectively tackled is of great interest and indeed of great importance for all of our and our children’s’ futures.
Does EHFF have a digital strategy? Over the last four years we have been on a learning curve. We started by regularly attending the annual Health 2.0 Europe Conferences (with friendly support from Pascal Lardier) where it was plain that despite impressive technological advances there was a significant disconnect between the businesses wishing to invest in healthcare or to sell product to healthcare and the culture and expectations of the healthcare providers. This persuaded us to run a small seminar in Berlin (supported by a grant from Robert Bosch Stiftung) where thirty stakeholder representatives debated the issues around early stakeholder involvement in product development. A summary of the resulting paper is here.
EHFF has developed partner relationships with two quite different UK based organisations whose values we share. Charles Lowe’s DHACA (Digital Health and Care Alliance), is a not for profit organisation that had its roots in a previous project, the dallas (delivering assisted living lifestyles at scale) programme. The latter was developed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK and joint funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Scottish Government. The programme tasked four consortia to think beyond traditional health and social care to consider how new ideas and technology can be used to improve the way people live. For more on DHACA see (here). While Charles’ focus is largely on digital implementation from a top-down perspective, Victoria Betton’s mHabitat (here) has a bottom-up approach to design and implementation in the sector, majoring on co-production, citizen involvement and local initiatives.
Although developments in the UK have tended to balance against more Europe-wide scoping, we have recently extended our connections by inviting the CEO of one of our partner organisations, Dr Tobias Gantner of Healthcare Futurists GmbH (http://www.healthcarefuturists.com) to help us develop a more specific digital strategy, and other links in Germany are in train.
Finally, while currently watching the development of the European Commission’s digital strategy (rather slowly moving during this phase of the health programme, but due for re-launch in the next couple of years), we were early participants in the joint Digital Health Society initiative, hosted by Brian Connor’s ECHAlliance and partnered by the Estonian Health Ministry (Ain Aaviksoo). Following the Estonian Presidency conference last October (see our news item 18 December 2017) there has been a further meeting of the task forces in Jan.2018. Notes from the meeting are here. EHFF is specifically committed to Task Force 4, on Digital Transformation and change management in health and social care organisations. The most recent position paper from DHS came out in April (which has echoes of the Institute for Health Improvement (IHI)’s ‘100,000 lives campaign’ from the early 2000’s!). See here.
Looking forward: In the coming weeks we’ll spell out our strategy, which has largely evolved from the context described above together with other policy related work for the Commission during the last five years. Certainly two strong themes will be to continue promoting user involvement in technology development and to support work on increasing digital literacy both for health professionals and for citizens.