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Why digital technologies are the key to value-based healthcare

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Sofiat Akinola

Project Lead, Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum

As we emerge from global COVID-19 crisis, we must rethink our health systems to withstand future shocks and focus on the principles of value-based healthcare for building a resilient and sustainable health system.

Global health challenges, including complex co-morbidities, increasing chronic diseases, a shortage of healthcare personnel, decreased healthcare funding and increasing health costs must take centre stage if we are to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3, good health and well-being. Value-based healthcare is necessary to address these issues.

Focusing on the individual

Value-based healthcare is about focusing on delivering health outcomes that truly matter to the individual and the society at large in cost-effective ways. The key here is the individual, putting the individual at the centre of health services – from prevention to rehabilitation – to ensure appropriate access to quality, affordable care.

There is also a benefit in cost to health systems. By eliminating inefficiencies in healthcare delivery, we could save an estimated one-fifth of health spending in the OCED and about $1 trillion in the United States every year. Such saving allows for investments in prevention services and the implementation of value-based healthcare principles and tools, as well health education and health literacy to enable individuals to make informed decisions about their healthcare services and outcomes.

Power of digital technologies

The pandemic saw a surge in digital technology and telehealth tools to enable access to care. Since value-based healthcare is founded on systematic measurement of health outcomes, technology can be particularly helpful in monitoring health outcomes.

The goal is to improve value by using the technology to deliver customised interventions, create more precise and personalised care, and allocate resources efficiently. For example, wearable technology allows for both behavioural and social interventions that encourage prevention as well as long-term monitoring and management of health conditions.

Such advancement in health technology can be particularly useful for patients with chronic diseases. For example, the development of insulin pump therapy, a computerised device to manage blood sugar level, provides flexibility for individuals living with Type 1 diabetes.

The pandemic saw a surge in digital technology and telehealth tools to enable access to care.

An opportunity for transformation

As healthcare institutions and health systems globally embrace the shift to digitally enabled care, there is an opportunity to transform and accelerate the transition to a value-based healthcare system in all economies. This shift will lead to better health outcomes, improve quality of care, staff experiences and lower the cost of healthcare.

To help scale the benefits of value-based healthcare, the World Economic Forum’s Global Innovation Hub for Value in Healthcare is working to identify evidence-based, matured pilots to serve as a proof of concept for value-based healthcare initiatives. We need more of such platforms to accelerate the pace, influence policymakers, and transform health systems globally.

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