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05 October 2022
Asthma , COPD
- Digital Health

In May this year EFA had the opportunity to attend the European Health Conference & Exhibition (HIMMS) for the first time, as a newly established partner of HIMSS. An EFA delegation of two patient representatives actively brought the perspective of allergy, asthma and COPD patients to the centre of discussions around digital healthcare and emerging trends.

Launch of the DIG_IT report at HIMSS

ale at himms

During the Conference, EFA launched our new patient evidence, ‘DIG_IT: the Asthma and COPD Patients’ Digital Journey in Europe’. The DIG_IT report presents results from a survey of over 900 asthma and COPD patients in five European countries to understand their needs, perceptions, and use of digital technologies throughout their patient journey and capture the views of asthma and COPD patients on Europe’s digital future.

Participation in TEHDAS Stakeholder Forum

EFA was also pleased to attend the Towards the European Health Data Space (TEHDAS) Stakeholder Forum, an EU Joint Action, to hear different perspectives of sharing health data, and to understand how patients can access improved dialogue with stakeholders and health literacy to be more confident in sharing their data.

Trust and resilience common themes at HIMSS

While the digital transformation has the potential to revolutionise healthcare, it was evident at HIMSS that the uptake of digital tools has dropped since 2018. A recurring topic discussed at the conference was how to gain public trust in digital healthcare from data sharing to using the tools. It became clear that both patients and healthcare providers alike are worried about digital tools surpassing the necessary human connection in healthcare. According to EFA’s DIG_IT report, patients have mixed feelings about sharing data digitally and COPD patients are more sceptical than asthma patients (54% are ‘rather concerned’ or ‘very concerned’). Therefore, it is crucial that the emerging digital healthcare sector seeks to support patients and healthcare providers through their tools and build confidence in users through digital literacy.

Another common theme was the question of how to build back stronger and more resilient health systems through the opportunities the digital transformation offers. Experts spoke on how transformation can only happen through a total system change and a stimulating environment, with co-creation among key stakeholders.

The digital transformation must not forget patients

One concern that EFA representatives noticed was the lack of patient voices at HIMSS. While many provoking discussions between healthcare providers and the digital sector emerged, it was clear that patients are still regarded as a silent benefactor, rather than an active partner, in this transformation.

As innovation in digital tools receives further investment, there is a need to develop tools centred around patients’ needs. Technology for technology’s sake is not the aim, the goal is to create solutions with and for the patient based on convenience and efficiency. This requires a mindset change where doctors, medical staff, patients and their families are equally involved in the journey towards the creation of the creation of a digital tool but most importantly a more integrated digital health care system.

EFA welcomed the thought-provoking discussions at HIMSS and looks forward to continuing the partnership to bring a stronger patient voice in the future.

Get a grasp of HIMSS scientific programme on their website.

Learn more about the Towards the European Health Data Space (TEHDAS) Stakeholder Forum on their website.