The future of ICT: Key digital technologies and their application in the health sector

June 30, 2017

Secartys publishes a report on the ICT sector in the health sector:

  • Key technologies and their application in the health sector are presented
  • The center of medical care is no longer the doctor, but the patient
  • Predictive medicine: will allow to know at the time of birth the potential ailments that we will live throughout our lives

The ICT, Information Technology and Communication Working Group of Secartys has published the last report prepared on 8 June, within the framework of SECARTYS 'assembly day, in which 45 participants participated. One of the main points of this report was the presentation of the key digital technologies and their application in the Health Sector that will undergo a great digital transformation in the short and medium term.

Ricard Gratacós, Director of Hospitecnia, commented that the introduction of technology is exponential and opens up a field of very high potentialities and challenges.

The care model has been living for years a progressive paradigm shift: the center of medical care is no longer the doctor, but the patient. In relation to this fact, there is a general humanization of infrastructures and care treatment, bearing in mind that information and communication technologies in this field (e-health, m-heath, d-health) pose possibilities for transformation Almost unimaginable.

Ricard commented that our health model is now based on proximity. Public administrations make available to the public a network of buildings with different degrees of health care. In cities like Barcelona, ​​in their densest residential areas, citizens have primary care centers about 10 minutes from home. ICT can even reduce this distance, since each place of the city, through a mobile device, can become a potential medical consultation space. Somehow, thanks to the TIC you can get the maximum level of proximity, paradoxically, without visiting the health center.

As always, the health system has generated a large volume of data. Now new possibilities open up because we have the ability to store, exploit and cross data. Analyzing the data contained in medical records, for example, can serve to create more personalized patterns of diagnosis and treatment. This will allow us to move from a reactive health model to a predictive model and what could lead to cost savings for the sector. There are many other sectors where you can optimize costs through intelligent data analysis. The hospital pharmacy, one of the main expenses of the health sector, could, through a detailed study of data, optimize its processes.

But the potentials are much larger. What if, through Artificial Intelligence, we could analyze diagnostic imaging without the need for a doctor to look at them one by one? The first cases in this field are already taking place.

The technology will continue to be strongly implemented in the field of medical equipment, with solutions already being discussed and being evaluated: Wearables, biochips, mobile monitoring, but also in fields with a lot of innovation such as nanorobótica and printing 3D, which can create tissues that revolutionize fields such as organ transplants.

In addition to the existing potential, Ricard also commented to the participants the main problems facing the sector, highlighting, first of all, the total metamorphosis that the health system must face and that will only be possible with new health models Which public representatives will have to know how to deal with and manage.

A second problem, not least, is the need for a great investment in technology and, more importantly, how to prioritize investments. Duplications must be eliminated. If ICTs allow a much higher proximity than having the CAP within 10 minutes of home, it may not be meaningful to have such infrastructures in cities.

A third problem is the necessary training of professionals and users in technological processes and applications. Older people are the ones who would most require telemedicine, but they do not know how to use those devices that the new generations use with agility. Therefore, simpler gadgets must be created so that they can be used by the "digital illiterates" or wait a few years for the generational change of the population to have solved that problem.

To conclude his speech, Ricard pointed out that the last problem is rather a risk: that of creating two levels of users and health based on income capacity. Even what is going to suppose a predictive medicine, that will allow to know at the moment of birth the potential ailments that we will live throughout our lives. This implies a problem of very high ethical components that undoubtedly affects the development of technologies in the health sector.