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Digital does it

The use of technology improves health and healthcare, and benefits both the patient and the doctor, says the latest report from global health technology leader



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You quickly and willingly share news, photos, and opinions on social media, sometimes about people, events, and things you don’t even know. But when it comes to your own health, ailments, and medical records, are you equally interested and enthusiastic in imparting information, utilizing technology, and cooperating with your doctor?

You should be, if you want a better and more beneficial health experience overall—the kind that empowers you as a patient, lowers medical expenses, and leads to a more satisfying relationship with your physician. As it is, there is insufficient data sharing happening now between doctors and patients.

It’s one of the notable findings of the Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report of forward-thinking company Philips, which focuses on the role of digital in healthcare and how it helps and supports the Quadruple Aim (enhancing patient experience, improving population health, reducing costs, and boosting the care team’s work life).

For the latest FHI report, the fourth from Philips, a total of 3,194 health professionals and 15,114 individuals representing the adult general population from 15 countries answered surveys online and offline (as relevant to the needs of each market) in their native language from March 4 to May 19 this year.

The survey was about 15 minutes long for the US, Germany, and the Netherlands, and about 10 minutes long for the remaining countries (Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Poland, and the UK).

Based on the FHI report, the lack of data sharing is especially true for information that is collected by the patients themselves. This, despite the majority of the individuals surveyed wanting access to their digital health record (DHR) and being prepared to share it more extensively with healthcare professionals. Case in point, about 40 percent of healthcare professionals recommend that patients track health data like their blood pressure (44 percent) or weight (39 percent), but only nine percent said that most or all of their patients share this data with them on an ongoing basis.

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Jan Kimpen, chief medical officer of Royal Philips

According to Jan Kimpen, chief medical officer for Philips, two-way sharing of information is essential to deliver the right care at the right time, as well as to improve the patient and clinician experience. “Informed and empowered patients also take better care of their health,” he said, which contributes to lower cost of care. “Today’s Future Health Index report highlights that health and healthcare is all about people. For example, the patient-clinician relationship is highly symbiotic. In terms of each party’s wellbeing, what one side does affects the other and vice versa.”

Despite the glaring lack of data sharing between doctors and patients, there is much to learn and gain from the FHI 2019 report. These three themes stand out:

  • Engaged and digitally enhanced healthcare professionals
    Progressively more doctors and medical staff are using and advocating digital health technology to improve their own experiences. The report underscores that majority of healthcare professionals are adapting to new ways of working, with 76 percent stating that they use digital health records within their hospital or practice, and 80 percent confirming that they share patient information electronically with other healthcare professionals inside their health facility.
  • Empowered patients
    Patients who have access to and control over their own data are more likely to use it in a way that will enhance the quality of care they receive and their overall healthcare experience. Among the individuals surveyed, those who share their health data with their doctors are more likely to rate the quality of care as good, very good, or excellent (74 percent) compared to those who do not share it (66 percent). Moreover, 63 percent of individuals who currently do not have, or do not know if they have access to their digital health record, say they want it.
    “When patients are involved in their care, anecdotally we do see better outcomes—they develop a richer and more sophisticated understanding of their health journey,” explained Dr. K. Elizabeth Hawk, clinical instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology and radiologist at Radiology Partners’ Matrix Division.
  • Learning from forerunners
    “We should learn from countries with an emerging healthcare system that have leapfrogged in the adoption of digital technologies. Technology is no longer a limiting factor, the important thing for all of us to be prepared for change,” said Jan Kimpen.
    Philips has been conducting original research since 2016 to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective health systems.

To read the full report, visit www.

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