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Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Creating Impact: Diving into the power of digital healthcare solutions

25th August 2022

Digital health innovation is the key to sustainable, accessible, and equitable healthcare across Europe.

In the second instalment of the ‘Creating Impact’ series, we spotlight the important role digital health plays in the advancement of European healthcare systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a growing need to accelerate the supply of digital health solutions. These have potential to mitigate future challenges to public health. With remote patient monitoring and at-home care becoming further engrained in our healthcare systems, both patients and healthcare providers are experiencing the efficiencies and cost savings associated with this emerging healthcare model.

A catalyst for innovation

In March 2020, Dublin-based digital health company S3 Connected Health collaborated with senior respiratory consultants across Ireland to develop a web-based application that supported Irish healthcare professionals with triage, monitoring, and treatment of patients in hospital during the peak of the pandemic.

S3 Connected Health’s web-based solution is a CE-marked, Class I medical device, indicating conformity with European health, safety, and environmental protection standards. During the pandemic, this web-based application used a COVID-19 specific risk model that was co-designed with clinicians, acting as an early warning system to support clinicians in identifying patients at risk, who could need ICU care.

If you are wondering what the future of European healthcare looks like, it will include more innovative digital health solutions like this.

Digital health supports value-based healthcare

The restructuring of healthcare delivery towards measurable outcomes through value-based healthcare has also been a catalyst in the shift to digital solutions. The Digital Health market is expected to reach $158bn this year, up from $41bn in 2017, as the quest to find digital solutions to optimise hospital efficiencies, and address global health care challenges such as ageing populations and chronic illnesses grows. But certain challenges remain in the way to achieving value-based healthcare, such as healthcare costs, staffing, and the rapid pace of technological change.

This is where EIT Health comes in.

As a leading enabler of healthcare innovation, EIT Health is helping its community advance digital tools for clinical decision making and digital solutions that support personalised medicine.

How can we advance digital health in Europe?

To further develop European healthcare systems’ digital infrastructure, EIT Health’s 2019 Think Tank Round Table Series focused on optimizing innovation pathways. This set out the practicalities of bringing a digital health solution from idea to market through the digital health innovation pathway in a real-world setting.

The next step is recognizing digital health applications (DiGAs) as enablers in the delivery of healthcare services. For example, in Germany digital health apps can be prescribed by clinicians and reimbursed by insurers. Other Member States are now taking steps to follow suit.

The European Taskforce for Harmonised Evaluation of Digital Medical Devices, established in April 2022, pursues the goal of harmonising evaluation procedures for patient-centred Digital Medical Devices (DMDs) within the European Union (EU). We have launched a call for external advisory group members and will host a roundtable here in Ireland to further develop these ideas into concrete plans.

Join us at the Smart Health Summit in Dublin on 28th September where we will host a panel discussion titled ‘Shaping future reimbursement of Digital Health apps in Ireland.

Stay tuned for the next instalment in our ‘Creating Impact’ series which will look at Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

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