Digital Health, the future skeleton of healthcare

The MedTech industry is increasingly present in Spain. Digital Health is the one with the greatest potential to grow in the coming years, according to a report by the consulting firm Iqvia. It will be in charge of solving future needs that arise in the health sector focused on connectivity between medical devices. In addition, in 2030, digital health will reach 380,000 million euros, according to the CEO of Zerintia, César Rodríguez. “It is the skeleton on which the rest of the medical technologies in the industry will rest,” says Iqvia.

The Health Technology sector is constantly growing. It has a significant economic and social impact worldwide. It is currently made up of 33,000 companies, of which 700 are based in Spain, according to the same study. Furthermore, 95% are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The sector contributes 140,000 million euros in market value to the Old Continent.

MedTech is made up of different areas, including Digital Health, which is defined as the set of new solutions for the health sector from the convergence of the technology industry and the medical field. “It is a broad, multidisciplinary concept that includes many categories from the Internet of Things to traditional connectivity solutions, and other newer ones such as robotics in the surgical field or the development of telemedicine models,” explains César Rodríguez. In addition, he states that “he is convinced that in 2030 we will no longer talk about digital health because there will not be a line that separates technology and health. Both worlds will be 100% integrated and we will not be able to differentiate”.

On the other hand, digital health seeks efficiency in the health system that allows proper care and higher quality to a growing population at a global level. It allows us to offer more openly and delicately the technical and clinical resources that exist, regardless of where you are and the social and economic condition of the person. It will also make it possible to move toward a patient care model “based on disease prevention, not disease care. For example, Big Data makes it easier for doctors to make decisions to anticipate pandemic situations,” explains Rodríguez, a technology company specialized, among other things, in innovative projects in eHealth and Industry 4.0.

This sector has grown and established itself, above all, as a result of the impact of the Coronavirus. “It has meant a before and after, and a true quantitative and qualitative leap in the role that our sector plays in the field of health policy in our country”, indicates the General Secretary of the Spanish Federation of Health Technology Companies (FENIN ), Margarita Alfonse.

” In Spain, we have to be brave and determined to accelerate the transformation processes that digitalization offers “, indicates the Zerintia manager. The company, they have developed a platform for interaction and connection in real time between clinical specialists to provide a rapid response to highly complex consultations and interventions, whether in the surgical space, hospital emergency environment, intensive care, or remote care in centers.

On the other hand, institutions, both private and public, no longer discuss whether or not they should invest in digital health. “The debate is on the pace at which companies see themselves capable of advancing in the digital transformation process. This procedure raises doubts because it is less and less digital and much more transformational,” explains Rodríguez. “In the end, technology is a means, not an end,” she emphasizes. The debate is also about whether Spain and Europe will be able to adapt the capabilities offered by the new technology to the existing business model without breaking the patterns that have been historically established.

In the last five years, Spain has made progress in the process of digital transformation in the health field. In 2021, the volume of investment by private funds in digital health projects exceeded 8,000 million in Europe. However, the Old Continent is far from reaching the progress of other territories such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. “There has never been so much money to invest in health and what we have to ensure is that we have the appropriate profiles and resources in organizations and administrations to be able to execute these funds”, explains the CEO of Zerintia.

Advantages of Digital Health

Digital Health saves 30% of surgical hospital expenses, according to data that exists in the United States where they have a couple of years ahead of other territories. In addition, it improves productivity and efficiency by 30% in this area, for example in the movement of professionals to other places when an intervention is complicated, in the reduction of surgical material that is used in excess due to having to lengthen the operation. “Instead of an operation lasting three hours, it lasts five. In the end, you have two more hours of additional expense, not only due to the use of the surgical space but also due to all the surgical material that is wasted,” emphasizes the expert.

Within five years, Digital Health will not only allow professionals to interact more with each other to make decisions in real-time, but they will also have data to subsequently improve the protocols that have been followed. It will also make it possible to integrate this surgical and hospital ecosystem with the field of digital surgery and robotics so that, for example, a specialist can use a Da Vinci system from 3,000 kilometers away. Digital Health will strengthen and strengthen the health system.

Other areas will also lead MedTech in Spain. In the first place, Home Care is not yet fully implemented in the country. It covers all devices aimed at diagnosing, monitoring, and treating a pathology from the patient’s home. On the other hand, clinical diagnostic techniques “are expected to gain increasing importance in the industry as innovation increases for early and effective detection of new pathologies and precision medicine,” the Iqvia report said. The fact of diagnosing a disease early reduces health spending. Also, it is expected that the segment of surgery and surgical material will be used more frequently in routine interventions in the Spanish territory thanks to the improvements in precision surgery and the greater applicability of these techniques.

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