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DHI MSc Blog: Digitisation of Healthcare

Part of the blog series from MSc students funded by the Digital Health & Care Institute

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Paula Gass

Digitisation of Healthcare

Insight from a current master’s student in Digital Health Systems.

Digital Health, as it suggests is the digital revolutions happening within healthcare and in wider society. Digital health’s broad scope encompasses mobile health (mHealth), telehealth, telemedicine, health information technology (IT), wearable devices and personalised medicine. The beneficial possibilities to digital health are endless, and applicable across the board for patients, providers and the country as a whole. Digital Health has generally taken the same route as other industries, however it may perhaps be considered more complex with the vast number of stakeholders, regulations and privacy concerns that exist on the path to a fully integrated healthcare IT system. With that said, 2018 is set to be explosive for the digital health industry with it being the fastest and most innovative sectors within the world at present.

This technology revolution is allowing us to track, manage and be better informed about our personal health and wellbeing, while on a larger scale allowing the improvement of the worldwide delivery of healthcare. Additionally, the aim of this movement is to develop a patient centric system, putting patients are the forefront of their health, hopefully making individuals more knowledgeable and with that more accountable for their health. Through this and the apps available providing information at the touch of a finger, as well as platforms for self-management, digital health has the potential to relive some of the enormous strain currently placed on the NHS.

A topical phenomenon currently is that of “big data”. Great amounts of healthcare big data have been derived from the widespread uptake of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The ever-increasing volume of big data allows predictions to be made based on historical data. The transition from merely documenting the data to giving it beneficial purpose is owing to the computer science advances in topics such as machine learning. The concept of big data and its application in healthcare is vast and influential in areas such as clinical decision support, predictive modelling, public health, disease surveillance and also research. The belief that scientific inquiry has superiority over expert opinions has been the driver in this evidence-based movement. Even specialists such as doctors and surgeons approve the assistance and value of data and information guiding their decision-making process, although unsurprisingly remaining in opposition of machines ultimately making the decision.

So, what next? In the move to the third wave of digitisation of healthcare the myths, patient needs, demands and expectations need to be fully understood. Professionals need to understand what the users want and what the best way to give it to them is. With the familiarisation and usage of health apps within the population comes the ability to develop and provide more and more. With the acceptance of digital provision in this sector, organisations will begin to be able to offer more complex and high value services such as care companion apps or mobile health records.

Considering an integrated future, where healthcare providers have the access to EHRs, patient’s genetic make-up, wearable device data, as well as population health data. This will effectively allow predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to support this identifying and managing health concerns more accurately and time efficiently. The future looks to be a bright place in terms of digital healthcare, with the overdeveloping market, and endless possibilities. It may take some time to achieve an integrated Healthcare IT system, however all the developments along the way come with added benefits and efficiencies.


Paula Gass