Paving the way for a digital health(care)

With more people living longer than ever before and chronic disease on the rise, traditional health(care) systems are being pushed to their limits. In other words: scarce medical resources (such as specialized personnel, budgets, etc.) have trouble keeping up with rapidly-increasing patient demands.

It is generally acknowledged that the concept of digital health can help us address that issue – with digital technologies empowering each and every one of us to better track and manage our health. As such, digital health can personalize and optimize treatments while reducing medical inefficiencies and costs. Recent ICT developments and digital trends have already generated a steady increase in efficiency and process optimization across different sectors. Digital health holds the same potential, with technology empowering us all.

Clearly, the health industry has already jumped on that bandwagon – with analysts predicting that the value of the global digital health market is expected to almost quadruple in the next few years (from USD 60.8 billion in 2013 to USD 233.3 billion by 2020).

But before we can realize the full potential of digital health in all its facets – personal, societal and economic – a number of barriers need to be overcome; an effort to which iMinds is largely contributing.

Digital health is one of iMinds’ focus domains. Through our focus on the development of advanced health and clinical decision-support systems – and the removal of their technological and societal adoption barriers – we make sure that consumers, healthcare professionals, patients and policy makers can exploit digital health’s full potential.

iMinds breaks the barriers to digital health(care) by means of clinical decision-support systems

Digital health spans a great number of underlying concepts and technologies – including wireless (wearable) devices and sensors, mobile and body area networks, the Internet of Things, health data analytics, genomics, electronic patient health records, medical imaging, quantified self, and so on. And iMinds is innovating in each of those domains to stimulate the widespread adoption of digital health(care) solutions.

Still, advances in each of those fields leave some other major questions to be answered too –

  • Firstly, these emerging trends and technologies demand for new ways to organize healthcare; while healthcare (technologies) are changing rapidly, the underlying structures and processes are yet to follow.
  • Secondly, as more – and increasingly detailed – information becomes available on all of us, who will help us cope with such a tsunami of data? For this, we’ll need advanced clinical decision-support systems – i.e. tools that analyze all available data and help health professionals make the right clinical decisions.

Next to its research into digital health’s enabling technologies, advancing the development of such clinical decision-support systems – and the removal of barriers to their uptake – has become the key focus area of iMinds in the digital health domain.

Thanks to its broad skillset – covering research and entrepreneurship activities – and its generally-accepted, facilitating role in the healthcare landscape, iMinds is uniquely positioned to realize important breakthroughs in this space.