February 15, 2018

Shaping healthcare and welfare for a smarter society

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Johan Höglund

Vice President, Head of Healthcare, Welfare and Education, Tieto

In a smarter society, the healthcare and welfare sectors will be characterized by its efficiency, its new ways of working, and by an empowered citizenry who will have control over how they engage with and receive digital services. And that smarter society is not very far away.

We can say this confidently because the rise of technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the introduction of new processes like advanced data analysis is already having a major disruptive impact on these sectors. In the Nordics, governments are, in some areas, already using AI tools to analyze the large amounts of healthcare and welfare data they have collected. This will enable them to better target services to at-risk sections of the populace while shedding bureaucratic flab. And that’s only the beginning.

The future will be all about personalization.

In the years ahead, population health management will be a key area which we see substantial improvement. It is a fact that many of the diseases today are lifestyle related and that huge benefits can be made by addressing these problems before they are aggravated. AI-built data models will, by combing through historical data, be able to help healthcare and welfare providers identify members of the population who are likely to develop these conditions. This kind of predictive care can then be used by authorities to provide preventive care. By addressing the problem at its root, they will have reduced future costs which would have been a big drain on their resources.

Healthcare will also get more personalized. In fact, we see genome sequencing being used in the area of precision medicines where the medication you are prescribed will be uniquely coded to your body’s genetic and physiological requirements. The one-size-fits-all approach will eventually become redundant. That’s not all. Improvements in remote sensors coupled with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) will see the greater engagement of citizens in how healthcare and welfare services are provided.

Thanks to development in care processes and automation, citizens may soon be able to choose whether they want to receive treatment at a hospital, or in the privacy of their own home. Their data will be made available to them in a simplified manner, enabling them to make more informed choices about their health and life. In the Sarpsborg municipality in Norway, for example, Tieto’s Smart Care system is being used to conduct routine checkups and test at the patient’s own home, reducing the need for hospital stays and visits. This in turn increases the patient’s independence, improving their quality of life. Increasing digitalization will see such technologies becoming commonplace.

An ecosystem for a smarter society.

The Nordic governments are working on having large and personalized health record databases (PHR) at a national level. Imagine what could happen if this data could be centralized and accessible by citizens wherever they go. Citizens will be able to enjoy the same level of healthcare and welfare, be they in Finland or Spain or elsewhere. It is not a question of if, but when. The technology is already being developed to do this.

None of this will be possible without a supporting ecosystem to enable this level of digitalization. The ecosystems must be built around the industry and not around a single provider. It must bring in all stakeholders. And for that, we need interoperability of systems. We need standardized application programming interfaces (APIs), common data models and validation criteria. We need to create space for small and medium-sized actors by providing a go-to-market model. No single organization can do this alone.

At Tieto, we are taking steps to make this ecosystem a reality. We are changing from a proprietary data model to an open-source model with global standards on how to share data safely and effectively. The data we are already seeing is incredible and over the next few years, we will continue partnering with organizations and governments to shape this smarter society.

Watch Johan Höglund's video, "How will the healthcare and welfare sectors have transformed in a smarter society?", here.

What does a smarter society mean?

Tieto’s goal is to utilize our expertise in digitalization to continue shaping a smarter society, one which anticipates the needs of the people in every phase of their lives. For more insights and examples on how we are doing this, visit Tieto.com/smartersociety.

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