How do we create a more sustainable, high-quality and affordable healthcare system that puts patients first and is future-proof enough to meet the various challenges ahead, such as the increasing healthcare costs, changing patient behavior, the rising number of chronic diseases and ageing populations?
It’s a question that lives in many countries across the globe and a complex issue that requires the involvement of stakeholders from several domains and disciplines, including obviously patients who wants to be involved and is more empowered as ample research on future health confirms over and over again.
The digital transformation of healthcare and the reform of the care system from a multidisciplinary point of view is also the theme of ‘The 5th Conference on Digital Health’ that takes place on September 5, 2019, in the Belgian city of Antwerp. The evening before, on September 4, healthcare start-ups can present their innovations in a pitch competition.
While the event is mainly focused on Belgium many of the topics are universal as a series of interviews regarding the digital transformation of healthcare which we conducted at the occasion of ‘The 5th Conference on Digital Health clearly shows.
Local and universal health challenges at the 5th conference on digital health
Some examples from the conducted interviews on several digital health topics:
- Although the transformation of healthcare and the hospital sector might be slower in Belgium as one of the speakers, hospital network CEO Wouter De Ploey, points out, his views clearly resemble those of hospital CEOs in other countries. Rethinking the way we organize and construct healthcare facilities is also essential as care models shift.
- In mHealth, the success factors to move from research to valuable real-life applications in an evidence-based way and the challenges to do so, as explained by speaker Valerie Storms, will certainly resonate, especially since quite some mHealth applications in practice have an international scope.
- The reasons why Dutch Leonard Witkamp is such a fierce advocate of telemedicine and started a company to deal with low complexity health challenges in an entirely different approach, is pretty much in line with what we see happening in connected care in other parts of the globe.
- The call of Philips’ Frank Dendas to go for a healthcare system that promotes integration and collaboration is pretty universal, as are many of his views. With Philips being a leader in digital health and connected care across the globe this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
- Prof. Dr. Dominique Vandijck points out the importance of making smart healthcare investments and smart health technology investments as the challenges in healthcare and costs are high and resources scarce. Health economics are key and should focus on quality and outcomes with parameters involving the patient being key.
“The 5th Conference on Digital Health” gathers various healthcare actors, such as government bodies/agencies, start-ups and scale-ups, academics and researchers, established companies and non-governmental organizations, including patient organizations and representatives to discuss the evolutions needed to ensure the quality and affordability of healthcare.
The topics at the 5th conference on digital health 2019
Although digital transformation and eHealth are key topics, The 5th Conference on Digital Health certainly doesn’t look at technologies nor at digital transformation as a goal as the above-mentioned interviews and the various topics on the schedule of the event show. Yet, obviously there is also room for technologies and innovations.
The 5th conference on Digital Health focuses on four themes that, according to the organizers, are essential for the future of healthcare:
- Digital transformation as a way to offer a more personalized approach to health and illness;
- Digital transformation as an enabler of a patient-centric and multidisciplinary delivery of care;
- Digital transformation at the service of the reintegration of patients into society;
- Disruptive care models that have an impact on the many intermediaries in the healthcare system, removing middle-men in the value chain.
After the keynotes in the morning, there are four different presentation tracks, each around one of the mentioned themes.
In a fifth track other topics are discussed with, among others, artificial intelligence in healthcare, patient management, the future of health, the merging of MedTech and pharma, and, how else could it be, the importance of getting the right data in this big data healthcare world. Obviously GDPR and personal data protection are also tackled at this Belgian event.
In the video below, Geert Reyniers, Global Head of Healthcare at Duval Union Consulting and chair of the organizing committee of ‘The 5th Conference on Digital Health’, talks about the variety of profiles of attendees that will tackle how healthcare will change and technology will impact that change and the key topics discussed in that scope.
The City of Antwerp as an eHealth innovation center: focus on start-ups
In a press release the organizers state that city of Antwerp has been chosen for a reason. Apparently the city offers eHealth growth potential for start-ups and others.
The City of Antwerp is a member of the BlueHealth Innovation Center (BHIC), an incubator for eHealth, together with local hospitals, the University of Antwerp and a number of companies. Together they work on innovative applications for healthcare.
The city has more than 4,000 hospital beds spread across different hospitals, which increasingly collaborate and specialize. The infrastructure of assisted living residences, residential care centers and care homes is also constantly expanding according to the press release.
Antwerp has many assets to play a pioneering role in the transformation of healthcare: the unique concentration of hospitals and care institutions, the presence of the Institute of Tropical Medicine and a fast growing student population.
The city wants to demonstrate its commitment with its active participation and at the mentioned pitching competition on September 4.
In the words of Claude Marinower, responsible for Digitalization and Innovation”: “An important step in entrepreneurship is the leap from start-up to scale-up. External advice can make the difference here: making sure the focus is right, adjusting or providing substantiation to entrepreneurs to get started. That is why the city of Antwerp is giving the winner of the pitching competition a voucher of 2,000 euros to support them in the area they need: legal, sales, product development, etc. Concrete advice, tailored to the enterprise.”