community care

Over the past 20 years, much has been written about hospital–industry partnerships (also known as Public–Private Partnerships or PPPs). Though they have as many champions as detractors, and there are lessons to be learned, in today’s increasingly strained healthcare systems, their potential is undeniable. Despite the importance and value of these partnerships, through our own newly-launched CareAdvantage approach and other value-based offerings, the challenge of making this relatively new mechanism work well in an already complex sector is considerable. This intricacy is what led us to partner with Hospital Healthcare Europe (HHE) on the delivery of an independent report for 2018, “Perspectives on Hospital and Industry Partnerships: The Aim of Improving Outcomes, Increasing Patient Satisfaction and Reducing Costs.” We hoped that, by providing us with direct insights from healthcare leaders and stakeholders across EMEA, the report would allow us to better understand the concerns and opportunities that are shaping today’s awareness of these partnerships. I’m pleased to say that it has done just that. Much of the study’s findings deserve close consideration but I would like to highlight three of the most well-reported insights that, to me, have resonated most clearly. A shift in perceptions Firstly, hospital–industry partnerships are increasingly seen as “a welcome addition to hospital stakeholders and healthcare system decision makers’ armamentarium. ” There is still some wariness and hesitation in working with third parties – the private sector must be able to convince healthcare providers that patient outcomes are as important tous as they are to them – but “fresh eyes that challenge current systems…are needed.” Although they are not yet fully embraced across the sector, this shift towards viewing hospital–industry partnerships as a welcome step forward is very promising. Complementary capabilities Another valuable indication from the report is that there is now a true understanding that...
The argument has raged for some time and shows no sign of abating any time soon: screening for diseases, yes or no? Take the case of prostate cancer screening: Richard Ablin - the author of “The Great Prostate Hoax”, and the man who claims to be the first to have identified PSA (a protein created by the walnut-sized prostate gland that can easily be measured) - maintains that PSA testing can do, and often does, more harm than good. Ablin, of the University of Arizona, has noted that a man’s PSA levels may be high but that doesn’t mean that he has cancer. On the reverse side of the coin, a low PSA level doesn’t necessary mean that a potential patient’s worries are over in this regard.Yet the fact remains that around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. So all men should be regularly tested, right? Well, not necessarily… Ablin and others argue that over-testing can very easily lead to over-treatment, including unnecessary invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland. The over-treatment argument has also been used in respect of breast cancer screening, although the figures tend to show that it works very well in a preventative sense and even better in detecting early breast cancer in target age groups. Yet over-treatment is clearly an issue, with many women (plus those aforementioned men with early ‘signs’ of prostate cancer) simply wanting all traces of the disease, or potential disease, removed right away, regardless of the potential cost to them personally or, indeed, fiscally to society in general. So over-treatment is clearly something that cannot be side-stepped. The counter-arguments - and they are very strong ones - is that our ‘social contract’ has obligations to ensure the highest standards possible regarding...
Shouldn’t we be rewarded for healthy behaviour rather than repeatedly punished for being ‘bad’? Fat tax and sugar tax, duty on cigarettes and vodka – everyone can think of a ‘sin tax’ they pay from time to time. These are the penalties we pay for making unhealthy choices. The idea of sin taxes has been gaining ground in recent years. The success of price rises on cigarettes and alcohol in curbing consumption is leading governments to consider what other disease-causing products could be taxed out of existence . In Europe, Denmark were the early movers: they introduced a tax on fatty foods in 2011. It applied to meat, dairy products, oils and certain other foods which contained more than 2.3% of saturated fat. The tax ‘worked’ in that it raised revenue and cut consumption of fatty foods by 4% . However, the policy didn’t last long. It was scrapped within 18 months because the government said the tax was too difficult and expensive to collect. Japan is taking a different route . Instead of hitting shoppers in the pocket to reduce the size of their gut, authorities impose fines on employers and local governments who fail to keep waistlines in check. Other countries, including the UK and Ireland have targeted sugary drinks by proposing a ‘soda tax’ to nudge consumers into making healthier choices. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – a campaigner for healthy eating – hailed the move as a victory for children’s health. He was so happy about the new tax that he did a little dance at the end of a TV interview which was captured by BBC! There’s no doubt that taxes can be used to push people into making ‘better’ choices. But what ever happened to incentives for positive change? GPs in the UK get bonuses...
Revolutionising and reinventing Medicine We are currently experiencing a great period of particularly stimulating technological breakthroughs. A great deal of progress is expected in practically all areas of our daily life: health, home, work, consumption, the environment… In the health sector alone, there are plenty of new inventions: you can manage your diabetes with a mobile application, make a prosthesis with a 3D printer, continuously monitor your own statistics and there are new techniques for predictive analysis . These inventions are gradually transforming our approach to health and the relationship between hospitals and patients. As these innovative technologies become more and more widespread, the patient becomes more active in monitoring his own state of health and the hospital’s role is changing: we spend less time in hospital, there’s greater comfort for the patient, and the costs for our social security system are reduced. So, in the long run, medical innovation may improve both the quality of healthcare for the patient and the performance of our health system. At this time of medical innovation, surgical robotics is a particularly promising area. A sign of its potential: surgical robotics alone represents a world market which should reach over 20 billion dollars by 2020! This is mainly due to the boom in minimally invasive surgery, which is a way of operating patients via very small incisions. I created Medtech because I was convinced that this trend was inevitable and positive both for patients and the medical world. By democratising the access to minimally invasive surgery, this technology facilitates and considerably improves the surgical act - serving patients and practitioners - and contributes to the performance of hospital facilities. Let’s transmit and connect these innovations! As innovations are only meaningful when they are shared, surgical robotics also aims to make modern surgery accessible to...
Artificial intelligence technology can help to meet rising demand for early detection of melanoma. Skin cancer and melanoma (the most severe type of skin cancer) are becoming a social health issue. The incidence has been rising. Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Experts agree that early detection is essential and can save lives. One third of those diagnosed are below 50 at the time of diagnosis. There is still no medical cure, but recently some new treatments have emerged that can help to extend life for few years. Those new treatments for advanced melanoma come at a cost, but, if detected at an early stage and removed by excision, the cost is more than 100 times less. Early detection starts with population awareness – people should always consult their doctor if they are in any doubt about a mole. However, the trouble is that early-stage melanoma can easily be confused with benign moles, and 90% of the population has at least one mole. With cases on the rise, the number of dermatologists will soon be insufficient to cope with the increased workload. New ideas are sorely needed. Wanted: innovative solutions I ask often myself why around 30% of melanoma are still detected at an advance stage? Why are there so many benign lesions excised – about 20 to 30 times more than the number of malignant lesions? Why is it so difficult for general practitioners, who are very often acting as a first point of contact, to do an efficient skin exam? I believe that with new technologies and e-health, which allow us to set up new processes and bring innovative healthcare services to clinics, solutions can be found to overcome those issues. When dermatologists began using dermoscopy...
Consider this: about 60 million people in Europe have diabetes. Out of those who have it for more than 20 years, 75% will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy (DR). It’s a startling statistic. Early detection of DR can prevent blindness, which is why people with diabetes should be tested every year. But because so many people have diabetes – and the numbers are rising – screening everyone for this debilitating eye disease is a huge challenge. For one thing, we do not have enough ophthalmologists to check the millions of eyes at risk of DR. And even if we did, the cost would be significant. New approaches are urgently needed. Fortunately, there is a solution on the horizon. By combining sophisticated cameras with artificial intelligence (AI), we can make diabetic retinopathy screening more efficient and cheaper – helping to deal with the growing demand for this crucial service. ‘Deep learning’ is a powerful kind of AI that can detect specific features in an image of the eye with high sensitivity. It allows health professionals to diagnose the stages of retinopathy in milliseconds. At DreamUp Vision, we are using this technology as a SaaS platform, as well as integrating it into a fundus camera – the kind of camera that ophthalmologists use to scan the eye. The technology is so flexible that any healthcare professional could scan a patient’s eye and get an immediate answer if the patient has signs of the disease or not. This could go a long way to addressing the shortage of ophthalmologists, while bringing expert care to people who do not live near specialist health centres. Learn by doing The incredible thing about this kind of AI is that it learns : the more eye scans it sees, the more accurate it becomes. We are...