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The digital revolution in healthcare: achievements and challenges

June 03, 22:25 UTC+3
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CHALLENGES:

  • Digital inequality

“Cities are one thing, and rural areas are quite another, and elimination of digital inequality is on the agenda now, the basic one, in communication channels and infrastructure,” said Nikolay Nikiforov, Minister of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.

  • Data security

“Security of big data operations is a very sensitive matter. It is really a must,” said Natalya Komarova, Governor of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area–Yugra.

  • Lack of standards in medical information network engineering

“A system of standards for medical information network engineering should be developed. Currently, with no standards in place, when a medical facility is designed, engineering companies do not get the networks right from the very start, which makes it virtually impossible to introduce any innovative solutions going forward,” said Nina Kandelaki, President, Chief Executive Officer, GE Healthcare Russia/CIS.

  • Digitisation causing higher expenses

“There is a question coming up: how is it all supposed to be financed? When a facility gets a high-speed channel <...>, its annual maintenance costs will go up. If it gets computers, they will need servicing, people will need training, software licences will need paying for, as well as professional labour,” said Nikolay Nikiforov.

  • Staffing issues in outlying areas

“There are no professionals in rural areas. And the medical education reform taking place in our healthcare system will most likely aggravate the staffing situation,” said Maksim Reshetnikov, Acting Governor of Perm Territory.

SOLUTIONS:

  • To bring the healthcare facilities online

“The President has instructed the Government to make sure that all healthcare facilities (excluding the rural health clinics) have access to the high-speed internet and data transfer networks.” “We have covered all of Russia's regions listing some 14,000 facilities from different cities and towns, and we are about to start implementing the project. We expect the work on 4,000 of those facilities to be completed as early as this summer, with another 10,000 slated for completion in 2018,” said Nikolay Nikiforov.

“We have put in place 24/7 online consultancy services in all of the key areas, including the image reading solutions. We have also launched <...> a pilot to process big digital tomogram data through smart software,” said Veronika Skvortsova, Minister Healthcare of the Russian Federation.

  • To encourage publicprivate partnerships

“The role of government is around creating the fertile soil to create innovation,” said Ilan Lieberman, Member of Telemedicine and E-health Section Council, The Royal Society of Medicine; Pain Management Specialist, Spire Healthcare Group.

“These technologies should be supplied by private companies. <...> They should operate in a free market environment. Certainly, it is a socially important industry with its own rules of the game, but the technologies should be private, competitive and market-based. The government should only intervene to tackle the fundamental issues, such as infrastructure and regulation,” said Nikolay Nikiforov.

  • To ensure the security of patients' personal data

“Currently, we have a clear understanding as to who should upload and retrieve data, and how they should do it to ensure information security. We needed this research to submit the bill [on telemedicine] to the Government and the State Duma,” said Veronika Skvortsova.

“We need to align our national [digital healthcare networks] standards (GOST) with the international ones (ISO),” said Nina Kandelaki.

  • To promote distance learning for medical staff

“We can use interactive electronic textbooks, which may help in both bringing a variety of academic disciplines together and reducing the time required to train a medical specialist.” “I am calling on the regional authorities to provide professional development opportunities for doctors and use information technologies for the purposes of distance learning,” said Guzel Ulumbekova, President of the Board, Association of Medical Societies for Quality of Medical Care and Medical Education.

“Jointly with the Agency for Social Initiatives, we are currently running <...> a project to enable doctors to search databases for diagnostics and treatment recommendations <...> giving them access to the results of research projects on any given disease accumulated over the last 30 years in 130 countries,” said Natalya Komarova.

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