The American magazine Forbes says 2013 will be the year of e-health

Politique publique | 16 Apr 2013
In an article published on 1 February, renowned American business magazine Forbes, which regularly publishes various themed lists, set out 10 reasons why e-health will be a key development sector in 2013 in the United States.
The reasons for this decision? “Facts, figures, innovation and needs are converging on the year 2013”. According to the webzine, technological innovation, social demands and economic necessity are coming together to make 2013 the year of digital health.

Explosive new technology and networks

Several of the arguments put forward relate to recent advances in digital technology and their impact on society. Having transformed sectors such as administration and trade, digital technology has now achieved such a level of security and is accepted by the general public to such a degree that it is in a position to target the healthcare industry. In a very short space of time, IT has become mainstream. Thanks, in particular, to the rapid development of smartphones, mobile Internet networks and other touchscreen tablets, digital technology has broken free from geeky adolescents’ bedrooms and become firmly lodged in everyone’s pockets and is here to stay. These devices are now the gateway to our digital, interconnected identities which enjoy their very own existence in cyberspace. The technical conditions are such that a new type of patient has emerged, “patient 2.0” – these are knowledgeable of their own state of health, connected to the medical staff that monitoring them, able to access their own medical data online, and able to play a part in their own treatment in real time thanks to integrated measurement tools the rise of the “quantified self”). the rise of the “quantified self”). The magazine also highlights new hopes born of these data streams in the fields of research and epidemiology, in particular with the development of big data and electronic medical records.

An economic issue on two levels

This technological progress for the general public would be enough on its own to attract investors’ attention. The market for online wellness and health information apps is already colossal and is growing at a tremendous pace. However, for the magazine, the real news lies in the fact that the issue of economic development is coupled with a need to control healthcare costs on the part of government, something which is supported by public opinion. The implementation in the United States of universal healthcare cover (or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dénommée « Obamacare ») epitomizes the political debate and for good reason: within the context of the economic crisis coupled with an increase in treatment costs is the dilemma of how to provide healthcare which is accessible to each individual but can be borne by everyone as a whole. America sees e-health as a way of improving the efficiency of care whilst making citizens responsible for their own health and hence avoiding waste, which is why it is investing in the development of the sector.

Furthermore, the advent of digital technology is seen as a natural development in medicine, the progress of which is seen as a moral obligation to ensure that developing countries benefit. Therefore, like the « Tricorder X-Prize »launched in January 2012, several philanthropic foundations on the other side of the Atlantic are raising funds to speed up the development of digital health and to advance medicine to ensure better quality healthcare which will result in a better quality of life and life-saving treatments for everyone. This will be invaluable.

Autor : John NOSTA

The author has long been a translator of medical and scientific concepts, employed by Ogilvy CommonHealth and a renowned e-influencer in the fields of marketing, health, medicine and social media in the United States.

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