Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy officer at Microsoft, was the keynote speaker at the EIF Dinner Debate on 'The Impact of ICT on Health Services' on 1 February 2011. He reflected on the evolution of computing and technology and described how it is increasingly bringing a paradigmatic shift to several areas of societal importance, including health, ageing and other key societal challenges.
One of the central questions that lies within that is how the next generation of technology will improve the delivery of health services? This so-called data driven model of healthcare can dramatically lower cost while at the same time improving the quality. What are some of the main points that are key for future innovation and transformation of health delivery in Europe and globally?
One of the key elements is that the healthcare system needs to shift from a focus on 'transactional' care of patients when they are sick to real-time, lifetime health management. With an ever increasing human population there is a real need for better health information exchange, a focus on prevention and well-being, and quality of life of patients as well as independent living for elderly people. These are also themes that are high on the European Parliament's agenda as can be seen in the recent launch of the European Innovation Partnership for Healthy and Active Ageing.
Within the bigger global picture it is also of primary importance to underscore the importance of transatlantic collaboration (EU-US relations) in the area of e-Health standardization and interoperability and share learning from the US work. Mr. Mundie welcomed the recent signature of the EU-US Memorandum of Understanding on the interoperability of Electronic Health Records - HER - in that respect.
Privacy is of course a key issue within such a complex area as personal health information. It is however important to liberate the data withing that privacy model so that patients and health care providers can have access to it. Data-driven decision making is key in the health industry and the availability of the right information at the right time is critical to improving outcomes and reducing costs. Liberating data from existing silos allows for the creation of comprehensive, patient-centered views and supports patients as shared decision-makers in their care.
There also is an element of educating citizens. One has to shift mindsets and citizens' behavior towards wellness and prevention. While we tend to think of wellness and illness as opposites, health is actually a continuum from general fitness to medicine; from wellness to illness. Moving to a focus on lifetime health management means a need to provide tools for citizens to participate in managing their health across that continuum.
And to make all of the above happen, the creation of an enhanced regulatory framework which enables innovation and rewards experimentation, is needed. By encouraging the deployment of new business models and delivery systems such as Cloud Computing and by ensuring a flow of data across the health ecosystem within a secure, private and trusted environment. This will support new ways of delivering care (telemedicine, remote monitoring, etc.) to help address the triad of lower costs, higher quality and broader access to health.