How going digital might help us get better care

In the third chapter of their book, The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, the authors Prof. Dr. Elgar Fleisch, Christoph Franz, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann discuss the topic of digitalisation of healthcare.

The authors remind us of an uncomfortable truth: most of us are aware that eating a healthy diet and exercising are important determinants of our health. This is backed up by scientific data, which suggest that about half of all non-communicable diseases could be prevented if we invested in preventive care. The authors explain that the fault doesn’t just lie with individuals, but that in western countries, our healthcare systems are not structured in a way which prioritises preventive care -in fact only about three percent of funding goes towards preventive services. The consequence of underfunding preventive care unfortunately is the late detection of many conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. At times, there can be irreparable damage caused to organs before a disease is detected by a doctor.

The authors contrast western healthcare systems to preventive healthcare services in China, as well as to the successful dental medicine program in Sweden, highlighting the importance of investing in preventive care for the population. This is something which Singapore has been doing for the past twenty years by creating the “Health Promotion Board” programme. Singapore is supporting the population with services such as subsidised screenings, healthy meals and nutrition education in schools, and sports programs, just to name a few. The authors further highlight Spain as an example of a European country investing in preventive care.

So how might digitalisation increase access to preventive services? Fleisch et al. look at the role of digitalisation and are able to identify five factors for why digitalisation will be helpful to healthcare systems around the world. The authors argue that digitalisation has the potential of supporting patients in their everyday lives, while also saving costs and making more services available. Digitalisation further helps doctors access expert advice via digital decision-making tools, or other tools such as image recognition tools. The authors further make the point that digitalisation accelerates medical research and has the potential of lowering costs for developing novel treatments.

This book chapter looks at preventive care and discusses how digitalisation might help healthcare systems to invest in this area.

Would you like to learn more about the topic of digitalisation of healthcare? The English version of the book, “The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System is available online and in book shops (reference below).

Fleisch, E., Franz, C. and Herrmann, A. (2021). The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78756-676-7. 10.1108/978-1-78756-675-020211015. Learn more here.

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