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Pandemic spurs move to increased patient centricity: Is it here to stay?

30th May 2022

The rapid changes that COVID-19 necessitated have accelerated both the democratisation and decentralisation of health, while bringing patient centricity to the fore, say expert speakers at the EIT Health Summit 2022. But how European healthcare systems can further implement patient centricity, through methodologies such as value-based healthcare, is still to be shaped.  

Last week, hundreds gathered for the EIT Health Summit 2022, held at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Over the course of a packed and diverse two-day agenda, the world’s leading voices in European healthcare envisioned a framework for transformation in the wake of the pandemic.

Torie Robinson, CEO of Epilepsy Sparks, who lives with epilepsy herself, gave a rousing keynote on the need for health equity and how the patient’s voice can help us reimagine health systems to achieve this. She noted that electronic healthcare records can be both useful and empowering for people living with epilepsy and other chronic conditions: “Knowing that I can access my personal data easily is good for both my mental and neurological health”.

Torie also emphasised the importance of remote appointments: “Remote appointments are less stressful and energy-consuming for many patients.” Telehealth was an area in which healthcare was forced to evolve rapidly during the pandemic, with the adoption of remote appointments and remote monitoring becoming common place. This evolution is something speakers throughout this year’s Summit agreed was here to stay, a sentiment the audience echoed too. One speaker noted that we should go so far as to drop the “e” in eHealth, because it is the new normal.

Throughout the course of the event, attended by over 500 key players from Europe’s healthcare ecosystem, we asked the audience questions to get a snapshot of their views on the hottest topics facing our industry. When asked how they viewed telehealth, the audience voted it as both “necessary” and “cost-effective”.

Like all areas of healthcare innovation, the success of eHealth innovation requires a deep understanding of human behaviour, something with Claudia Pagliari, Director of Global eHealth at the University of Edinburgh, noted during the ‘Next generation health and human-centred innovation’ plenary session. She gave the example of fears around privacy inhibiting the uptake of digital health apps – one of the many aspects of human behaviour that is essential to understand as eHealth evolves.

In addition to driving improvements in eHealth, the pandemic sped up the decentralisation of clinical trials, opening the door to more diversity and representation. This much-needed shift, which has the potential to make medicine more democratic, is something which speaker Emily Jordan, Co-founder and COO of Ancora.ai, emphasised during the ‘Life sciences in transition’ session. Emily said: “The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on clinical trials, leading to innovation. I’m especially excited about how these innovations can improve trial diversity and the democratisation of medicine.”

While it seems that the European healthcare industry, as represented by our attendees, is driven to improve patient outcomes and that it embraces patient centricity as part of this push, there is still discussion to be had on how we get to where we’re going, as we recover from COVID-19.

Together we celebrated the transformation that has taken place over the course of the pandemic and heralded the ways in which this will help us enable people in Europe to live longer, healthier lives. But we also raised questions that are yet to be answered. For example, exactly what role do concepts like value-based healthcare have to play in helping us to strengthen healthcare systems as a collective?

As the Summit drew to a close, we asked the audience: “Should health providers – hospitals and physicians – be paid based on patient health outcomes?”. Interestingly, this polarised our audience, with 55% saying that yes, pay should be based on patient outcomes, while 45% disagreed.

While this is just a small sample of views, which may not be representative of the stance of our industry as a whole, this audience poll suggests there could be a way to go before value-based healthcare and remuneration based on patient outcomes becomes the accepted model. This highlights the need for thought-leadership and practical resources to envision how value-based healthcare can be implemented in a meaningful way.

But perhaps too, more discussions need to take place on what the optimum outcome of that transformation looks like. Is pay based on patient health outcomes something which is ultimately desirable? Would this help unite the system towards delivering results that are truly better for patients?

We look forward to continuing to provide a forum for such debates as we bring together the brightest minds from the worlds of business, research, education, and healthcare delivery through our work, and look to answer some of the biggest health challenges facing Europe.

Are you interested in the role of the patient in healthcare innovation? Find out about our Patient Innovation Bootcamp.

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