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The “2023 Digital Health Barometer” report, sponsored by Roche and published by Economist Impact, thoroughly examines the current state and future trajectory of digital health across ten diverse countries. This comprehensive analysis delves into the integration of health and technology, exploring how different countries are navigating the complex landscape of digital health.

Global Overview of Digital Health Integration

The report begins with a global overview, highlighting the rapid integration of digital technology in healthcare systems worldwide. It points out that while advancements in artificial intelligence, connected devices, data analytics, and digital therapeutics are promising, integrating these technologies into health systems presents challenges. 

These challenges stem from design issues, complex data environments, and the need for new approaches to clinical validation and regulatory approval. The report stresses the need for digital health solutions to be user-friendly and accessible to clinicians and patients, considering human factors and tailoring technologies to patient ecosystems.

Regulatory Frameworks and National Strategies

A significant focus of the report is on the regulatory frameworks and national digital health strategies. It notes that while all ten countries have regulatory foundations for digital health, only half have robust assessments of digital health tools. 

Furthermore, most countries have digital health governance institutions, but over half lack a fully developed national digital health strategy. This section underscores the importance of having a clear and inclusive national plan to guide the adoption and integration of digital health technologies.

The Challenge of Inequality and Access

The report addresses the critical issue of digital health inequality, emphasising that the rush to deploy digital health solutions may exacerbate socioeconomic disparities. 

It points out that only a fraction of the surveyed countries have digital health literacy programs, crucial for bridging the digital divide. The report also highlights the need to expand access to telehealth services, especially in remote areas, to mitigate the inequality in digital health access and literacy.

Person-Centred Care and Interoperability Standards

The importance of person-centred care in the digital health landscape is another key area the report explores. It discusses how digital technologies are well-suited to chronic disease management and the need for healthcare systems to adopt an integrated care-delivery model. 

Interoperability standards, a crucial aspect of the successful adoption of digital health, are present in most surveyed countries. However, the report indicates that there is still room for improvement in ensuring high-quality data and effective communication between healthcare providers.

Digital Health Literacy and Training

An essential aspect covered in the report is the integration of digital health literacy into national health plans. It stresses the need for healthcare professionals to improve their digital agility to effectively integrate technology into their practices. 

The report also emphasises the importance of training healthcare professionals and the public in digital health competencies to ensure the successful adoption and use of digital technology in healthcare.

Electronic Health Record Systems and Telehealth Programs

Finally, the report assesses the state of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems and telehealth programs. It reveals that while EHR systems are normalised, they are often fragmented, leading to inefficiencies and continuity of care issues. 

The report praises the expansion of telehealth, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but notes that its effective implementation still varies significantly across different countries.