European primary care needs modernization for the viability of health systems | NTT DATA

Wed, 19 January 2022

European primary care needs modernization for the viability of health systems

The report “The frontdoor of healthcare- Rethinking the Primary Care” elaborated by NTT DATA analyses the principal transformation needs of the primary care and how technologies can facilitate healthcare centers modernization, highlighting the relevance of advanced analytics

Health systems must harness the potential offered by technology and data to create an intelligent, programmable, and geographically distributed network, with a global reach and almost instantaneous connectivity that allows them to transform health care in health centers. In a context when new players are entering the ecosystem (insurance companies, large companies, and technology companies), it is necessary to realign capacities as technology providers play a more relevant role, especially in Primary Care.

Ensuring the health systems sustainability in welfare states involves guaranteeing the use of efficient resources, as well as orientating ourselves towards more promoting health and preventing disease. This paradigm shift requires strengthening primary care as a key entry point into the health system.

Fortunately, the amount of stored data that exists about health is quite high, since it represents 30% of the total according to Emerj, an artificial intelligence market research company.

One of the most essential areas to guarantee the strengthening of the system is to propose as a key element with evidence-based management. In this sense, we need to leverage the use of data and information available, to have the right knowledge to make the right decision.

Here is where the technology and knowledge-generation through data analytics, Artificial Intelligence leveraging Big Data, allowing to develop of health programs oriented to increase life span. These systems should be always supported by data. Thus, the improvement of quality of life in an aging society makes the health sector face new challenges, and there is when primary care becomes particularly relevant.

These findings, among other things, are what has been analyzed by the NTT DATA report “The frontdoor of healthcare- Rethinking the Primary Care” aiming to understand technology's key role in health centers' modernization. The report has had into account the experience of both users and health professionals, which in recent months have been raised as fundamental to alleviate the hospital pressure generated by COVID-19 and assuming the cornerstone of the health system a posteriori.

One of the key points of the study focuses on the ability of European systems to treat patients and their deficiencies when it comes to preventing disease. Preventive medicine needs efficient primary care, with a fundamental role within the health system to avoid having a population with serious diseases that could have been prevented.


Improving integration and interoperability

In addition to placing a greater focus on primary care and providing it with human resources to improve preventive medicine, it is important to make the system transversal in the type of treatments (incorporating in a relevant way program-oriented to mental health or programs of healthy habits throughout life, for example) and how technologies can help drive them. Another key element for the future of our health model is to include a One Health approach, this concept contemplates the integral health of the environment and all the species that compose it as an integrated whole and explores the interactions and interdependencies between them. aspects, and seeks a fruitful balance between them. The pandemic itself has taught us how easy it is for human beings to become embedded in the natural environment.

On the other hand, as the level of vaccination advances, the new waves of COVID-19 will have to be managed from primary school and therefore it is essential to strengthening it.

Thus, improving the integration of technological and organizational systems will help by improving interoperability, something essential between countries or even between regions of the same country at a deep level. This will allow a much more comprehensive model, in which flexible spaces, in which disaggregated resources can be combined in the way necessary with total security to manage joint projects, develop collaborative solutions, and access sensitive data in conditions of absolute security.


More data, but with better access

Even though the integration of the systems, the collection, compilation, and analysis of data to turn it into valuable information are still undermined by barriers in the systems. That can be overcome with technology.

An example of that is medical records, which need to be more comprehensive and much more accessible. According to the European organization DIGITALEUROPE, the adoption of electronic medical records is still detailed, reaching only 3% (in the United States it reaches 35%).

The entire data set, including the part of the medical records, must be driven by data analytics, leading to better individual patient information and this leads to better, more efficient, and personalized treatment. This relationship with the patient, if interoperable technology is used, must contain high levels of individual and personalized information and must constantly evolve.

According to Ana Forment, Digital Health Strategy and Technology Director at NTT DATA Europe & LATAM ‘one of the learned lessons from this health crisis is the need to guarantee the viability of the health systems through the strengthening of primary care attention. This can be done by intensifying the promotion of health and preventing disease strategies.’


In this context, the Next Generation EU Funds offer an unprecedented opportunity to transform health systems structurally, generate a more resilient model, starting seeing primary care as to how well-financed and well-managed systems have been on the verge of collapse in the face of The high number of cases, the lack of essential equipment, the search for effective treatments against the clock, or the provision of social protection measures as the pandemic worsened has been as instructive as it was alarming, and this allows us to know to build a future better.

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