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“Digital health” has already become a new buzzword in modern reality. In terms of the unfolding Covid-19 tragedy, the demand for social distancing, and global economic chaos, the urgent need for innovation in healthcare has been felt like never before. Over the last decade, the idea of easy-to-reach and affordable healthcare has transformed from simple patient portals into large and powerful ecosystems that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, manage and secure vast amounts of patient data, and ensure its safe transfer between different healthcare providers. 

Indeed, not only private practitioners and healthcare organizations have recognized and invested in digital health innovation. Governments of many countries are steadily marching forward driven by tech innovations, financial incentives, and patient demand.

6 Countries​ That Are Transforming Healthcare Sector
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Estonia
When Covid-19 hit Europe, a big part of European countries found themselves looking for new ways of providing care while in Estonia life was going on as usual. Estonia’s health service went digital about 12 years ago. With more than 99% of patient data generated by doctors and hospitals being digitized, Estonians can easily access their data via a very secure online portal. E-prescriptions and video consultations have already become “a new normal”. Even deaths are registered online with notifications automatically sent to people’s workplaces, tax offices, and the population registry. Estonian citizens are actively involved in key decisions about the healthcare system. For example, a state-backed innovation platform - Accelerate Estonia runs hackathons where startups design new solutions for digitization. In March 2020, a virtual two-day event “Hack the Crisis” gathered more than a thousand people to develop digital solutions to help during the pandemic. Among the winners was a tool to connect the sick to volunteers who can help them out and a platform that connects the unemployed with companies in need of additional staff.
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Denmark
Denmark has one of the most advanced digital health systems and technologically looking-forward, alongside the elaborated Strategic Digital Initiatives (2016-2020) that was proven to become an effective tool in establishing easy and efficient cooperation among healthcare actors. The Danish government has managed to build an integrated network with the main focus on patients and the safety of their data. Healthcare professionals got access to recent prescription-medicine overview to cooperate better with other healthcare facilities and decrease inequalities. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index, Denmark is one of the most digitized economies and societies in the EU. The new Digital Health Strategy (2018-2022) is a paradigm shift based on the achievements of Danish healthcare digitization. At the level when all Danish citizens and doctors have access to their own Electronic Health Records, the new system aims at establishing a higher level of data security, integrated care, and prevention initiatives.
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Sweden
One of the early adopters of digital, Sweden, is actively leveraging the opportunities innovations bring in healthcare. Since 2018, patients can easily access their electronic health records, including patient’s history, medicines, test results, and appointment bookings. Moreover, the country’s capital Stockholm is now making it mandatory for healthcare providers to provide digital services in order to meet patients’ expectations of fast and personalized service. The Swedish have access to multiple apps for healthcare systems navigation, booking physical or virtual appointments with general practitioners, tracking their medical records, and receiving treatment. The most popular are KRY (an app that allows users to consult with a health professional in minutes), 1177.se (the platform to assess and screen disease), Coala Life (a smartphone-based ECG that can detect arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation based on analysis of P-wave and RP variability in the ECG measurement), and Actiste (an app to monitor blood sugar values and take insulin doses).
Flag of US
The US
Increasing usage of mobile phones, the fast-growing geriatric population, and the surging prevalence of arthritis has significantly driven the development of the healthcare sector in the US. By 2025, its digital healthcare market is forecasted to reach $191 billion, with a progression of 28.4% at a CAGR in the period between 2021 and 2025. Even before the pandemic in 2020, which notably boosted the need for digital health, patients’ adoption of digital health had been steadily growing. According to Statista, in 2019, 42% of Americans admitted to using digital health tracking while the global digital health market was worth $175 billion. In February 2021, Philips mentioned having completed the acquisition of BioTelemetry Inc., which is a dominant US-based provider of remote cardiac diagnostics and monitoring. The combination of Philips’ leading patient care management portfolio in the hospital, its advanced and secure cloud-based HealthSuite digital platform and BioTelemetry’s leading cardiac diagnostics outside the hospital, will result in global leadership in healthcare management solutions for cardiac and other patients.
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Australia
In Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic became a catalyst for accelerated investment in healthcare digitization and building closer coordination between government and private and public sector actors. The Australian government estimates that “it delivered 10 years of reform in 10 days’, introducing telehealth to the whole population under Medicare. The government funded the launch of the online platform MyHealth Record that forms patient health information and ensures interoperability among clinical information systems. It has been estimated that 65% of public hospitals currently use EMR systems, as a result of the $197 million government allocation in November 2020 aimed at the rollout of EMR and PAS systems in its metropolitan health networks. A lot of positive shifts have been also seen in the Australian public sector. For instance, in February 2020 the first virtual hospital in New South Wales was launched by Sydney Local Health District and treated more than 3500 patients in its first 7 months.
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Israel
Israel is one of the most powerful players in digital health in the Middle East. In March 2018, the government of Israel set to launch a $275 million digital health strategy that implied a personalized digital database that stored information of up to 9 million citizens of the country. In July the same year, Jerusalem mentioned a $33 million grant for biotech and medicine research. Reuters reported that the government planned to give Medtronic, GE Healthcare, and Change Health their grant money in the time span of the next six years. Israel’s interest in digital health is not a new thing. In fact, solely in 2017, Israel-based companies got more than 20 deals, according to Startup Health’s report. Israel’s Digital Health Strategy states that the current main goal of the healthcare system in the country is to unify the existing database of the digital medical records Israel has been collecting for 20 years. This database holds the medical information of more than 98% of the country's population. What is more, they aim at promoting and improving telemedicine to enhance cooperation between different healthcare institutions.
Despite the considerable progress achieved by some countries, many states still require support for the development and consolidation of national eHealth and digital health strategies. What is the situation with digital transformation in your country?
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