Mie Rasbech, head of health care politics, Dansk Industri

How Data and Technology Are Propelling the Healthcare System Forward

If we look into the crystal ball of the future healthcare system it is clear that digitalisation, ­technology and data will play a pivotal role. The future of healthcare systems is to a large extent driven by technology and data. This goes for Denmark as well as the rest of the world.

One does not require a crystal ball to see that digitalisation, technology, and data will play a pivotal role in the future of healthcare systems worldwide.

For its part, Denmark has the potential to become a ­pioneering country that serves as an international catalyst for digital health. Built atop a solid foundation, Denmark’s healthcare system is one of the most digitalised in the world. It is internationally recognised for its life sciences industry that provides solutions for patients within and beyond Denmark’s borders.

Given the rapidly growing elderly population and more people living with one or multiple chronic diseases, healthcare systems are facing major challenges on a global scale. At the same time, healthcare professionals are moving faster to fill in the gaps. This makes it difficult to take advantage of the vital information contained in the ever-growing pool of data – from the healthcare system itself and increasingly also the patient’s own devices and tracking apps.

Against this backdrop, innovative technologies that draw on data analysis and artificial intelligence to make use of the information and translate it into the healthcare setting will play a vital role in the future of care. This will free human resources and create time for care and presence as well as security for the patient, and help prevent burnouts among the health professionals.

Consider the start-up O2matic, which has developed an automatic oxygen device. Now, instead of a nurse having to constantly go into the room to ensure that a patient is getting enough oxygen, he or she can spend that time actively providing care to those in need.

Zooming in on artificial intelligence, we can see how this technology can help shorten response times, provide more accurate diagnoses, and thus deliver more personalised treat­ment. The company Radiobotics is a prime example of this. They developed an algorithm that can help doctors determine whether a patient has osteoarthritis in his or her knee. Trained with data from previous patients, and with the help of pattern recognition, the algorithm can quickly determine the presence of osteoarthritis.

Since data has the potential to drive the evolution of the healthcare system, we must use it responsibly, intelligently, and democratically.

For this, we need data to become smarter. It’s not about identifying the needs of individual patients, but about seeing and finding patterns and possible correlations in large volumes of data. We must always protect the individual citizen’s data privacy. If we manage to strike that balance between privacy and broad scale benefit, health data can contribute to the development of digital treatment solutions that can complement existing treatments.

However, global competition is strong. We are all facing similar challenges, and if Denmark does not push the development of new solutions forward, other countries will do it for us and to our detriment. And that will be a shame. Because Denmark holds great potential to prevail in the global race of becoming a frontrunner within health tech. Facilitating this, the life science industry is ready for collaborationa. If the entire Danish health and life sciences ecosystem – including politicians, organisations, and healthcare stakeholders – manage to come together to develop Denmark into the leading health tech nation, we can create a new Danish stronghold. And we can ensure that Danes and the rest of the world in the future will receive high-quality health technology solutions – for the benefit of all.