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August 10, 2022
EDITORIALOP-EDOPINIONPOINTS OF VIEW

The healthcare rapid leap into the future

By Kostas Deligiannis, General Manager Eastern Europe, GE Healthcare

 

Covid-19 has brought home the importance of resilient health systems, able to withstand sudden shocks such as a pandemic while continuing to offer successful outcomes for other illnesses. But has there been too much focus on Covid-19? How can we be sure that the wealth of innovation we have seen over the past 18 months will be in the fields where we need it most? And how can we ensure universal access to quality health care across the emerging Europe region.

 

The global Healthcare ecosystem, faced with an unprecedented situation, has had to reinvent itself overnight to limit the spread of the virus. The world’s hospitals and National health systems have stepped up in brave and unparalleled ways to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and the pandemic had a tremendous impact on them. Improvements that would normally have taken years to get a grip have been adopted by health systems, caregivers, and patients over months. Hospitals acted rapidly to reduce numbers of patients to accommodate those with COVID-19 and turned to telehealth and other virtual services to maintain care for non-COVID-19 patients.

The effect of the pandemic on global health services is still incalculable. Entities in the sector had very little time to prepare – to reorganize their services, to train staff, to develop effective ways to motivate employees and care for patients safely. The answer to this challenge came with an unprecedented global transformation program, applied in a few weeks, a process that, in ordinary times, would have taken several years. Clinicians have been turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help them process reams of clinical data in a short time and discover valuable insights. Advanced algorithms, for example, can help speed the diagnosis and treatment of pneumothorax, cancer, and COVID-19 complications.  At the same time, cancellation and delay of cancer treatments and other precautions undertaken to minimize potential exposure of patients with cancer to the coronavirus, have caused a huge backlog in cancer management.

Considering the current global circumstances, it was imperative to touch upon the role of Primary Health Care (PHC) in the healthcare continuum, as well as the mechanisms needed to integrate public and private healthcare sectors to provide more effective and comprehensive care for everyone. The quality of Primary Health Care has been neglected for so many years and therefore public trust has been shaken, which has also led to the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy. We need to strengthen primary healthcare at community level – and there must be urgently a short, mid and long term strategic plan.

Innovation is the cornerstone of the future healthcare landscape and GE Healthcare remains committed to driving innovation to achieve precision health and improve lives. As a global MedTech pioneer, GE Healthcare enables clinicians and patients on the innovation path and has created a number of initiatives to promote and nurture innovation, such as its HelloAI programme – developed with EIT Health – that focuses on a personalized curriculum to upgrade medical students’ knowledge in AI basics, and Reactor’21, an accelerator based in Hungary helping young MedTech start-ups navigate their way through a tightly-regulated environment and gain access to expertise.

Building an intelligence-based Health system requires a complete modernization of the current infrastructure to enable virtual hospitals, greater access to care and ultimately lower the cost of care delivery. It’s clear that COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change and technological advances and the changes that took place during the pandemic are irreversible. Most likely, the lessons learned during this period (flexibility of procedures, adoption of unconventional solutions, overcoming of long standing political taboos etc.) will become rules of good practice, so that the necessary changes can be implemented much faster when new unforeseen situations arise, but also in the daily activity, in periods of normality.

 

 

 

 

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