Modern digital technologies are nowadays irreplaceable companions of our lives. Without them, most of us cannot imagine functioning in the modern world. In the literature on the subject, the term: the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0 (industry 4.0) is even used to emphasize they’re significant importance.
The three previous industrial revolutions (see opposite) were marked by equally breakthrough technologies that ‘made nothing more the same.’ They were in turn:
- mechanization (introduction of mechanical production devices powered by water and steam),
- electrification (implementation of mass production technology based on electricity and division of labor),
- and digitization (the use of electronics and information technologies in the further automation of manufacturing processes).
The present fourth industrial revolution determinants are cybernetic-physical systems that integrate computer systems, software, and people.
Such solutions enable progressive automation of processes, miniaturizing advanced tools for gathering and processing the amount of information difficult to imagine. It is also possible to develop the Internet of Things ( IoT ), data-driven organizations, cloud processing technology, or artificial intelligence.
Thanks to such solutions, it is also possible to change the approach to supporting health and providing health services, and managing the health care system. We are entering the era of so-called digital health (e.g., digital health). Nowadays, obtaining quick contact with the patient becomes as valuable and necessary as modern pharmacotherapy or effective surgery. New communication forms, establishing remote communication between the patient and the consulting doctor, are not unique today. These are more commonly used tools in the assortment of a modern medical facility and its staff.
However, it should be remembered that despite this universality, there are some challenges here. With a remote form of communication, the communication channel should be properly secured to avoid sensitive medical data leakage. Additionally, during remote consultations, authentication (the process of confirming the subject’s declared identity) and authorization (granting the subject access to the resource) are critical – both on the part of the patient and the doctor / medical staff.
The process of digitization of medical records
The digitization of medical records of patients takes place to the greatest extent in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (83.2% of records in digital form). Denmark comes second (80.6%), followed by Great Britain (80.5%). By contrast, only 9% of hospitals in Europe provide patients with online access to their medical records, with most facilities only offering partial access. 80% of European countries have the legal protection of health data privacy in electronic health records. Interestingly, in most cases, e-health services in European healthcare systems are more often used for administrative purposes (e.g., as an aid in data registration, reporting) than for strictly clinical purposes, such as, e.g., consultation. On-line. Only one in ten general practitioners in the Member States consults patients in this form. In information exchange using digital technologies, 48% of hospitals in the European Union exchange certain medical information with general practitioners electronically, and 70% of hospitals in European countries exchange such information with external healthcare providers.
Digital health policy
Developing a digital health framework given achieving universal health coverage is important for ensuring safe and integrated health services in the future. Without this approach to digitizing health systems, there is a risk of creating new or increasing existing health inequalities. In turn, they create divisions where resources are not adapted to social needs and where the benefits do not reach those most in need. Keep in mind that barriers to digital health progress are more often found on the side of people, not technology. Here, the ability to use health data is critical. They help professionals understand their importance, including for reforms of the health care system and population health/
It would be of great benefit to link digital investment to the objectives of public health and health promotion and disease prevention. To achieve this, a strategic approach and organizational changes are required based on the identified needs. WHO specialists indicate that European countries’ governments may lose the political battle in technology control and health data. To avoid this, they must collaborate through open and transparent cooperation mechanisms between academia, health organizations, and the business environment. Thanks to this, it will be possible to create a system that will enable the patient to comprehensively, safely, and freely use health services in the era of industry 4.0. Top authorities are responsible for accelerating safe and equal access to digital healthcare at the national level. Collaboration is key, but progress towards equity in digital-enabled healthcare systems will be severely hampered without government leaders.