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New healthcare models based on prevention and early intervention

© Heinz Stephan Tesarek

New healthcare models based on prevention and early intervention

© Heinz Stephan Tesarek

On behalf of PRAEVENIRE; Gareth Presch, Founder and CEO of the World Health Innovation Summit, talked about new healthcare models that create value based on prevention, early intervention and using different resources, and why transparent conversation is essential when adopting them. | von Mag. Birgit Weilguni

PRAEVENIRE, society for the optimisation of solidarity in healthcare, invited to a discussion on digital corporate responsibility, good health, wellbeing and the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. Digitalisation and sustainability are the two megatrends
of our time and ensure social prosperity as well as competitiveness and innovation. PRAEVENIRE has set itself the goal of multidimensionally illuminating the responsibility for sustainable digitalisation and preparing companies for developments in this area in good time. 

Big data expert Prof. Dr. Reinhard Riedl, Bern University of Applied Sciences, discussed
“Good Health, Wellbeing and the UN SDGs” on behalf of PRAEVENIRE with Prof. Dr.hc.
Dipl. Inform. Günter Koch, Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity, and Gareth Presch, founder and
CEO of the World Health Innovation Summit. Presch is a global healthcare thought leader. He
is Expert Leader on UN Social Development Goals 3 (Good health and Wellbeing) and 4
(Quality Education) for the UNGSII Foundation “25+5 SDG Cities Leadership Platform”,
Founder of the “Global Social Prescribing Alliance”, Visiting Lecturer “Fujitsu – Global Knowledge Institute”, and a Member of Pope Francis’s “Vatican COVID19 Commission”, Group 2, “Looking to the Future”.

Corona, climate change and new healthcare models

Today’s healthcare systems tend to be based predominantly on a sick-care model – the system is essentially one that waits until we have fallen ill. We face unprecedented challenges with global staff shortages predicted to be 18m by 2030. Healthcare costs have been rapidly rising over the past few decades. The unsustainable demand and increase in costs can be largely attributed to the growth in the human population along with a diverse population, which results in a higher incidence of chronic and multiple conditions. In addition, a one-size-fits-all approach to health does not work. Both consumer preferences for convenience and affordability are shifting, and demand for a more effi cient, personalised delivery model is growing. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has dramatically unveiled the health inequalities that exist in societies across the world, along with the fragile state of the world’s health.

Additionally, climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The impacts are
already harming health through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, food insecurity and pressures on mental health. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people.

There is an opportunity to create a new model of health and wellbeing that creates value based on prevention, early intervention and using different resources. The aim is to enable people and communities to thrive and improve their health and wellbeing, support existing health services, and create new and meaningful jobs while supporting the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Replication and scaling

Knowledge of many healthcare topics is fully established. However, it is used in only 20
to 30 % of all systems. Therefore, we need to become better in replicating good practices.
Gareth Presch explains that the current health system is in crisis mode; it needs continuous crisis management. “It is very difficult to adopt new practices, new ways of working,
because they are in a constant state of risk”, says Presch. Another critical point is staffing.
There are great ideas, but it is impossible to execute ideas when you do not have the manpower. “Our focus is to support the existing ecosystem but to look at the community as the way forward to embrace prevention”, Presch suggests. We need to engage populations to
become more understanding of how to manage their own health and wellbeing, which then gives doctors more time to treat chronic illnesses etc. “We do not have enough medical
professionals, but we do have an opportunity to begin to move towards social prescribing
as a way of moving the dials towards prevention supporting the existing health system.”

Social prescribing is discussed in line with a global social prescribing alliance with 25
member states championed by the British NHS National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP), which was launched by the UK Secretary of State for Health and Sicial Care.
In order to scale these solutions, a platform is needed. “With our platform (WHIS-GSPA), we identify unicorns and then scale them. However, opportunities to find solutions are probably better in other countries outside of Europe than in Europe, where there is too much bureaucracy. Need is one of the drivers of innovation and of change. When there is a great need, you adopt faster”, Presch is sure.

Europe’s new position

Europe needs to understand that the position it has at the moment as a forerunner is under
jeopardy, says Gareth Presch. “If you look at the mass explosion of population in Asia, in
Africa and South America, there will come a point in our future – not so far off – when you will have to look whether you are really at the centre anymore”, says Presch. Billions of people in other regions of the world cause a drive of change and also wealth creation. There might be a huge size in the geopolitical space. “I would try to think very strategically about how to position ourselves to be relevant in the future in this emerging new economy. From a digital health perspective, Europe is probably ahead of the curve at the moment. However, if things stay stagnant, we will lose that competitive advantage as we’re not adopting these new models quick enough.” Presch adds.

Currently, there are talks with colleagues in Thailand and India about establishing world
health innovation summits in Bangkok and Mumbai to bring new factors into a co-creative
space to create knowledge management and the facilities for future ideas or investments.
“Europe has to watch what is happening. Vienna could be in an ideal position, a space for a health summit to manage the knowledge, the intellectual capital, bring the investors and then scale the ideas and solutions across Europe. Europe could position itself as a forerunner. I think that’s where the solutions will come from because we had the industrial age, we are moving from a service-driven one.” The new model is emerging where we are investing in ideas, when they become stimulated by a vision and not so much by the old way of working. Investors now have more opportunities, which is very dynamic. “This gives us a scalability and a profi tability that we have never seen before. That’s something to think about,” Presch says.

Unicorns and the next generation

The role of communities in driving developments of healthcare, in particular with technology innovation, has to be considered. Gareth Presch is sure that solutions lie in building communities. He is convinced that major companies and investors need to make decisions that are relevant to the next generation, because if they are not, their business model is not sustainable. “I have discussed knowledge management with big tech organisations and tried to encourage them to become more collaborative, to embrace opportunities to work with different sectors and begin to open up to an equal system of trust. They are still very reluctant to do that,” he regrets. The next generation of unicorns is what is currently discussed. However, the established business communities, tech companies and digital healthcare are not ready for that at the moment.
“If you have an accident in Thailand and fall off a bike, you need to know your medical records. If they are locked in a data centre in Vienna and you can’t access them, you die.”
There is a need for transparent conversation. “So that is what we want to try to establish as a
community and unlock all the barriers that are  currently there”, Gareth Presch adds.
We will only overcome opposition to digital healthcare if we make people realise that their
data are not used by any background power. In some industries such as the automotive industry it is already reality that companies collect data and forward them to insurance companies for example. In healthcare, people are by no means ready to give away their data. We must find a way to keep things as open as possible, states Günter Koch. Open society means that you keep democratic discussions very transparent. The next generation will probably be more ready to keep this discussion on a level of participation, to make it as transparent as possible. The problem is not the technical aspects but trust and confi dence and convincing society there are no dark forces in the background.
Gareth Presch focuses on digital technology. Cyber security is a huge and understated factor. Presch has been working on cyber security dealing with the vulnerability of the internet, “particularly from the health and wellbeing perspective. It is extremely vulnerable because of the lack of investments in the sector for the last ten to fi fteen years. A transparent conversation with the general population is important so that people understand it is benefi cial to have their medical records like their bankcard. We secure the data, we make sure that they are your data, that they are encrypted and not taken anywhere, and you own them. Then you find a quicker adoption.” The question is whether the digital sector us actually doing enough to enable this change. The financials behind it are only possible when people have access to their data and are allowed to make those decisions that actually drive the profit.

Understanding IT and health topics


The discussants agree that more has to be done to explain technology to people. Reinhard Riedl states that designs with perceived benefits are required at an early stage to win people’s trust. “Another aspect is that we have to adopt much broader communication strategies,” Riedl adds.

Digital technology within the health ecosystem needs explanation, Gareth Presch also insists.
Clinicians have to understand that if they adopt innovations, it gives them more time to
treat patients. “Clinicians did not join health systems to be IT experts. If they are confronted with a system and told this is what they have to do and nobody explains the reasons why, or that it generates a financial gain for the hospital or the community, then a certain resistance to change is logical.” In addition, there are resentments because the clinician or the staff member thinks it does not help him or her do his or her job. Presch is convinced that we need a softer approach within the system to articulate that message. “It’s all about understanding how healthcare can be delivered and the benefits from a digital perspective. That’s probably one of the reasons why it is so slow in adoption,” Presch says.

© Peter Provaznik, Heinz Stephan Tesarek
Peter Provaznik, Heinz Stephan Tesarek

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