Growing life expectancy and aging populations create lots of challenges for our healthcare system. The European Commission suggests that greater adoption of digital health solutions will play a crucial role in solving such problems. Luckily, we see an increasing number of new digital health companies emerging in the last ten years. The solutions created by these companies might potentially be a game changer. However, how can we compare the value those solutions create for the healthcare system and make evidence-based decisions in selecting the most beneficial ones? We need efficient and effective methods to identify the value.
The same holds for companies that provide digital health solutions such as patient-facing mobile apps. For companies competing in the digital health market, measuring, and demonstrating the value of their digital solutions is going to be a crucial competitive advantage. Those companies need to find ways to clearly measure and communicate the potential value they can create. Yet, this is not very straightforward.
When we talk about value in healthcare, we need to consider many different stakeholders. Of course, the most important stakeholder is the patient. Companies should be clear about the value they create for the patient. However, they also need to prove short-term and long-term returns to the organizations they’re selling to. For example, if they sell their solutions to hospitals, they need to not only show a financial return but also consider how they can make a difference in the work of different stakeholders in a hospital. The challenge here is that not all stakeholders are aware of the potential benefits, and they might have quite different perceptions of how those technologies can help them to do their job better or less costly. Therefore, technology companies should have a clear and customized approach to showing their potential value to those different stakeholders.
This topic is also of high importance for us at Winterthur Institute of Health Economics (ZHAW). We do research and run many relevant consultancy projects on measuring and selecting the best digital solutions for healthcare systems. For example, in one of our projects we partner with heyPatient (https://www.heypatient.com/) to find a toolbox that can be used to quantify the impact of digital health interventions. This project is a sub-project of Innosuisse flagship project `SHIFT: Smart Hospital – Integrated Framework, Tools & Solutions`, which has a total budget of 5.7 million Swiss francs. With this project, we aim to contribute to the development of the Smart Hospital of the Future.
As a member of the ZHAW Digital Health Lab (https://www.zhaw.ch/en/research/inter-school-cooperation/digital-health-lab/), I also organized a workshop on the same topic on 12 September 2022 at the Digital Health Lab Day (https://digitalhealthlabday.ch/), where different stakeholders shared their views on the challenges/opportunities for measuring/communicating the value of digital health interventions. Thanks to our amazing panel (Regula Spühler, Chief Operating Officer, heyPatient AG; Alex Geiger, Expert Digital Health, Hirslanden-Gruppe; Abhishek Avasthi, Founder, Sawera Health Foundation) we had great discussions and shared valuable insights during the workshop.
If you would like to hear more about our projects or discuss the issue in general please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Zeynep Erden is a senior lecturer and researcher at WIG ZHAW.