PD 19 - The Role of Policymakers in Digital Health Innovation
6 months ago
According to WHO estimates, half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. Over 100 million people each year fall into extreme poverty because they have to pay out of pocket for basic healthcare and treatment services. In 2015, political leaders committed to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), an essential health package for all. If implemented responsible and effectively, UHC can massively reduce global burdens of HIV, TB, malaria, viral hepatitis, waterborne diseases, neglected tropical diseases and other infectious diseases. However, governments are off track in meeting their UHC commitments. On current trends up to 5 billion people will still lack access to basic health services by 2030. In today’s digital age adopting and scaling technology and innovation are critical to to address traditional and emerging challenges in scaling healthcare. It offers unprecedented opportunities for using data to identify and address healthcare needs, including among the most marginalised and neglected populations. Dynamic electronic health record systems, digital diagnostics, effective telemedicine approaches, robust health management information systems and efficient patient communication strategies are some of the many solutions that governments can and should deploy to increase access to quality healthcare of their populations. This requires governments, legislators, healthcare providers and the general public to rethink health in a digital world as well as to ensure that an enabling environment for the successful digital transformation of health systems. Governments need to develop comprehensive strategies and policies to regulate digital technologies for health while addressing the widening digital divide in health. Personal health data must be protected whilst being accessible to research as a public good.