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How to accelerate the digital health development in Europe

Digital health offers some of the most promising solution to address a massive and growing need in human healthcare but as yet demand is limited and commercial success is elusive. With a focus on Europe, D health is a vehicle to drive change; we support public and private sector organisations who want to develop their interests in digital health. And whilst D Health provides specialist advice on strategic and operational issues, our highest impact activity is brokering sustainable, real world interaction. We have recently started a European market accelerator program; the D Health Catalyst. The program is creating a microcosm of the market by recruiting forward thinking organisations from of all the key groups who want to drive change.

Global healthcare systems are unsustainable in the face of unprecedented challenge arising largely from constraints on healthcare budgets and rising demand for services as a result of an aging population and the increasing levels of life-style related disease. Bar effective treatment and cure, prevention is the only way of stemming the rise in chronic disease. In the absence of effective approaches to prevention, the predicted growth in long term conditions is inevitable as will be the cost burden on our healthcare systems. Chronic conditions will degenerate in the absence of effective self-management solutions causing state service providers to direct their resources “towards the top of the pyramid” in the form of often dramatic and expensive interventions.

A key aspect in the change to sustainability is the use of digital technology; so called “digital health”. Technology can be used to introduce necessary efficiencies into existing healthcare practices and processes (e.g. remote consultation, electronic scheduling systems, healthcare records etc) and also offers the potential to influence healthcare related behavior (to deliver effective preventative, self-management and compliance solutions).

However, the adoption of digital solutions to drive efficiency has been relatively slow and often painful. In 2013, D Health, in association with leaders from the private and public sector, identified over 30 aspects of dysfunction which are severely limiting the growth of the digital health market.

In light of this understanding a European market accelerator program was born; the D Health Catalyst. The Catalyst is an invite-only subscription based model which drives consortium working and encourages sustainable, commercial arrangements. The program is creating a microcosm of the market by recruiting forward thinking organisations from of all the key groups who want to drive change; developers of products and services, service providers (state and private), investors, supply chain organizations as well as high street retailers (pharmacies, supermarkets, sports and fitness chains and consumer electronics outlets). Members already include corporates such as Johnsons and Johnson’s medical device company, LifeScan Scotland, Lloyds pharmacy (in the form of owners Celisio), a host of state and private service providers and numerous innovative small development companies. We will be looking to add to the cohort by working with the best in Europe.

So, what is the outlook for digital health development in Sweden? In August 2013 I attended Digital Health Days in Stockholm and enjoyed the obvious enthusiasm and commitment of a forward thinking delegation. Since then I have been back out to Sweden to support business interactions which originated at the conference and we look forward to returning on a regular basis. The collaborative culture evident in Sweden lends itself to the effective growth of digital health particularly in light of the mixture of innovative companies, a forward thinking public sector and world class academic expertise. The challenge is to turn enthusiasm and commitment into real world initiatives with real world benefits; a sense of urgency and to a degree, risk taking is required. I sense that Sweden can rise to the challenge and become one of the leading locations in digital health in Europe.

Steven Dodsworth is the CEO of the company D Health which was founded by serial entrepreneur Jeremy Cummin with backing from the regional development agency in the North of Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise. After many years in the life science industry Steven has worked to drive the development of digital health in Scotland during his time in economic development. D Health provides a range of support services to overcome dysfunction and accelerate the interactions necessary to drive the development and uptake of digital health.

Dr Steven Dodsworth
CEO, D Health