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Faster and better decisions: accelerating the digital transformation in the time of COVID-19

Most of us rely on technology in some way every day, but the COVID-19 pandemic has just accelerated our adoption of technology in more settings. We have likely all paused to consider how much we value our health and take for granted the way in which we run our lives, but as we have started to adapt to the crisis and search for longer term solutions, it has become clear that technology will play a much greater role in the future of how the healthcare system is optimised.

As we have tried to rapidly respond to the pandemic we have been asking the same questions on COVID-19 that we ask of other diseases with an unmet need: how can we predict and prevent its occurrence; what treatments are there to help those that have it; how can I rapidly diagnose and then monitor patients to evaluate their improvement; how can I get this disease under control and ensure access to medicine to allow people to return to their normal lives? Many of these questions require the generation and assessment of data. This might include disease epidemiology, electronic health records, data from clinical trials, patient response to treatment or assessment of availability of medicines. During the COVID-19 crisis we have been focused on gathering all this data and ensure that it is connected, to ensure we get a holistic picture of the situation. We must do this in all healthcare settings. Technology, in the form of supercomputers and artificial intelligence, is able to make these connections from the dispersed pieces of healthcare information, applying consistent, rapid analysis and supporting the humans involved in the system, to make faster, better decisions about health.

The concept of digital health brings together the importance of connecting health data and the opportunity offered by novel technology, to bring solutions that improve healthcare. In recent months, as we have maintained distance from each other, there has been an acceleration of remote patient engagement (telemedicine) and remote monitoring of patients. The pandemic is clearly accelerating how much we leverage technology and it will have a critical role in the future.

EFPIA members play an important role in the ecosystem of healthcare, developing and supplying medicines that make a real difference to patients. As the healthcare system evolves, we believe that Europe will need to encourage health data sharing, whilst respecting privacy and security and facilitate purposeful adoption of technology into many aspects of healthcare. It will take all stakeholders around the table to make these improvements and we look forward to playing our part.

For more information on digital health, please visit our new webpage.

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is the Chair of the EFPIA Digital Health Working Group and Vice President, European R&D, Head...
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