The GovTech Summit

2022 |

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Health's moment of truth: can HealthTech make a difference?

Excessive waiting times, lack of patient access, and intense pressure on healthcare workers and systems. The severity of the impact of the pandemic has yet to be captured fully, but already, the fallout is seismic.

The global healthcare system is in crisis. A shortage of efficient services and hospital workers existed long before COVID-19 arrived onto the scene. Even still, primary care teams adapted to the chaos with haste and striking resilience. 

The fight is far from over. Winter is fast approaching. Vaccination centres and hospitals everywhere are preparing for rapidly escalating numbers of cases amid significantly cut virus surveillance. What is different this time around? HealthTech — the digitisation of healthcare — has now more than proven its ability to radically transform healthcare as we know it. The key question that remains is whether the opportunity can be grasped at greater speed and scale. 

In this edition of the GovTech Summit Spotlight, we recap on areas where healthcare innovation was taken to extraordinary new heights and the challenges that still demand further intervention. 

COVID-19: a Tipping Point for HealthTech

From accelerated service delivery to a massive spike in the demand for telehealth, the potential and impact of HealthTech were well observed during COVID-19. Digital health tools, products, and principles became vastly more present in policy and public discourse. It’s not a surprise. Cutting-edge HealthTech startups made solutions purpose-fit to service the urgent needs of healthcare systems worldwide. 

Biofourmis, a startup revolutionising digital therapeutics and AI to monitor patients remotely, has raised a total of £376 million in funding to date. Kry has delivered six million virtual patient appointments to date, making it well positioned to reach digital health unicorn status. Cera Care is the biggest player in Europe’s digital-first home healthcare market.

The different components of the HealthTech ecosystem today are at the heart of its success. Evidence-based innovation, patient-centric care models, and reformed data governance takes HealthTech to a new league of digital transformation. At its simplest, patients receive vastly better outcomes, and healthcare professionals are empowered to face off an increasingly wider pool of challenges. 

Saving Time, Saving Lives 

A longstanding problem within the healthcare system, which has only been heightened due to the backlog following the pandemic, is waiting times. According to The King’s Fund, prior to COVID-19, the NHS hadn't met the four-standard at the national level since 2014. Patients with critical and terminal conditions are experiencing waiting times of not weeks, but months — and even years.

The benefits brought by the post-pandemic transition to greater adoption and integration of digital technology are clear. By integrating better technology systems into healthcare, HealthTech significantly improved both waiting times and helped frontline workers treat patients from the safety of their own homes. Many HealthTech startups provide platforms helping patients upload their symptoms online, with a frontline worker able to respond in real-time. Not only does this drastically reduce patient waiting times, it creates better communication pathways between patients and healthcare professionals. Plus, HealthTech provides greater accessibility to healthcare professionals for patients living in remote areas. 

BIA Care, a provider of digitally-enabled menopause services, is a prime example. The platform uses video technology to provide patients with access to a menopause specialist doctor within 7 days of referral. After a virtual consultation, patients are offered a treatment plan to help manage and improve their symptoms. It is health tech firms such as BIA that shine the light on the future of digital health and take a lead in improving the healthcare system.

Data in the Hands of Patients 

A wave of innovation that took grip throughout the pandemic was the provision of greater patient data accessibility. As more services swiftly digitalise, providers have carved out a substantial market for platforms capable of improving patients’ access to their own records. Some are taking this further with personalised treatment plans and continuous monitoring of patient's health. 

Patients Know Best (PKB), a British social enterprise founded in 2008, is leading the way in providing greater data accessibility. Through integrating itself into the NHS app and the government's personal health records infrastructure in the Netherlands, PKB offers patients the ability to virtually control and access their own medical records.

Perhaps the most rewarding outcome for the HealthTech ecosystem is knowing that their mission to improve health outcomes is working. Yet, if HealthTech is to continue succeeding, it is paramount for the HealthTech ecosystem to forge better links with governments and ride the GovTech wave.  

Transforming the Health Workforce

HealthTech has created the kings of the kingdom for workforce transformation in healthcare systems all over the globe — and no, that’s not an over-the-field statement. With more efficient access to patients’ medical data delivered in a single real-time view, HealthTech startups have created an entirely new level of sophistication and intelligence for healthcare professionals. 

Digital solutions have helped frontline workers detect and deliver interventions when a remote patient’s health is worsening. Optimised healthcare staffing structures, like Patchwork, have helped fill vacant shifts faster. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our startup ecosystem is releasing game-changing digital health solutions at pace. But what we need to recognise is that their value to today’s challenges is due to their focused, user-centred solutions created throughout their entire lifecycle. In short, their success depends upon people. 

What has continuously been amplified since the beginning of the pandemic is the lack of digital upskilling and operational capability among healthcare professionals. Overwhelmed schedules and a multitude of inefficiencies add to a lack of operational tools and systems to support their delivery. This situation should simply no longer stand. The digital skills gap amongst many healthcare professionals is increasing. Operational systems are still inadequate. It is hence imperative that we empower healthcare professionals with the right training programs and capabilities to create a more efficient system. 

The solutions are ready for deployment at speed and scale, but their seat at the table is not concrete enough just yet. Despite all this innovation taking place, many barriers stand in the way of perfect harmony between HealthTech startups. From funding and procurement challenges, to a need for better digital literacy and regulation, we must combat all obstacles that continue to stand in the way. Further dialogue is critical to reaching solutions that will take healthcare to even greater heights beyond what we thought was previously possible.

Shape Your HealthTech Future 

So how can you be a part of that conversation? Join us on November 1st in the Hague, where we will discuss with innovators in the health tech field, policymakers and investors how we can transform the healthcare system for good. The time is now, don't miss out!

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