In a world in which everything can be ordered online, it stands to reason that the medical field will also undergo a digitization process. Applications, data collection, and even diagnostic tools are part of this revolution, which is going to make our lives healthier. So what exactly is digital healthcare, what benefits does it offer, and what challenges does it pose? We spoke with Gilad Tisona, Chairman of “Helfy.co”, to get all the answers
Like almost everything in our lives, the field of healthcare is also undergoing a process of digitization: every HMO has a dedicated application that enables members to perform different operations using their personal phones; we hear about studies being done using the big data collected from various applications and even about applications and apps designed to help doctors diagnose diseases. Also, in the last two years, as a result of the corona crisis, there has been an increased need for medical opinions given without seeing a doctor in person, and many clinics have started providing services that allow online or telephone interaction with the doctor.
In order to have an in-depth understanding of the big change in the consumption of medical services, we invited Gilad Tisona, chairman of the digital healthcare company Helfy.co, which provides a personal response to patients across Europe – including scheduling immediate appointments, diagnosis, and receiving medication and complementary treatment. “Helfy.co’s future is a future in which we don’t waste any unnecessary time going to the doctor or waiting in line at the pharmacy,” says Tisona. “We provide appointments to clinics, nurse visits, and lab tests with one click. To date, we provide service to hundreds of thousands of customers across Europe.”
DIGITAL HEALTHCARE: DO MORE FOR PATIENTS, FASTER
In a world in which we’re used to ordering meals, groceries, clothes, or anything else that we want with one click, it’s only natural that the world of medicine would want to adapt itself to the demands of modern consumers who seek uncompromising convenience, speed, and professionalism. Consumers’ demands, along with the efficiency provided by digital technology, have created a situation in which healthcare technologies are already an integral part of the interface between service providers and patients.
But what exactly is digital healthcare?
Gilad Tisona explains that “the field of digital healthcare is an innovative technological field which integrates high-tech and the world of healthcare for the benefit of public health. Today, the offerings of companies engaged in digital healthcare are very comprehensive, and they provide solutions through a variety of activities related to the world of medicine: emergency healthcare, home care, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, digital analysis, diagnostics, and more. Digital medicine makes it possible to do much more – in less time.”
Some would say nothing can replace an in-person appointment with your family doctor.
“I agree, and I don’t think in-person healthcare will completely disappear from the world. Our goal is to empower the medical staff, not to replace them. Digital healthcare is an addition to the world of traditional and incredible medicine with which we are familiar. On the contrary, we feel that doctors and hospitals are welcoming the digitization process of medicine with open arms, in contrast with many medical patents that take years to be accepted in the solid and skeptical medical world. The reason behind this acceptance is that it works.”
Tisona adds: “Digital healthcare is expected to cut costs, increase accessibility, support various healthcare systems, help with the early detection and prevention of diseases, reduce inequality, and, no less important, reduce the burden on medical personnel. I’ll expand on that and say that the way things stand today, the development of digital healthcare will save healthcare systems around the world from collapsing. The high-tech world and the world of medicine fit together like hand in glove.”
THE GOAL: TRANSPARENCY AND SECURITY FOR THE PATIENTS
The field of digital healthcare is indeed a promising field with great potential, but at the same time, there are numerous challenges with which developers and the new companies in the field must cope. Some are technical challenges relating to information security and data storage, and some relate to the human-digital interface. “Every revolutionary technological product brings with it a certain amount of suspicion within the public. In the case of digital health, people are concerned about their medical confidentiality, and rightly so. And it’s impossible not to address the fact that the elderly have a lower level of technological literacy, and it is occasionally difficult for them to get used to the world of applications,” says Gilad Tisona.
Apart from patients’ natural suspicions, there are also challenges on the part of the medical staff, although they mainly welcome the digitization processes in hospitals and the private sector with open arms because of the reduction in workload they bring. “For medical personnel, the challenge is to improve the technological capabilities of all employees so they would be able to optimally use the various applications. The implementation of the various technologies among doctors and healthcare system personnel should be no less than perfect. In addition, as e-health developers, we need to fully integrate the new technology with existing systems.”
How does Helfy.co deal with these challenges, which are unique to digital healthcare startups?
“Helfy.co is a company that provides solutions in several areas – connecting specialist doctors and patients, providing medication, diagnostics, and more. The company, therefore, takes a multidisciplinary approach and encourages its employees to achieve multidisciplinary excellence. We believe that the key to success is professionalism, communication, collaboration and successfully handling regulatory challenges. We also employ doctors and specialists in the fields of Biomed, healthcare, and regulation who have been involved in building the app from the beginning.”
The field of digital healthcare brings with it other good news: giving the reins back to the patient. For many years, patients were asked to blindly trust the medical establishment, which was perceived as all-powerful. This created an imbalance of power between patient and doctor. This blind faith often led to disappointment, with the doctor acting negligently, disrespectfully, or inattentively with regard to the patient’s complaints. Tisona says that “many people lost their faith in doctors. We also make available information that was previously unavailable, such as accurate, professional information about medications and diseases, and of course – the exact costs of expected treatments. In this way, we are actually empowering our patients because knowledge is power.”
Gilad Tisona: “ We are actually empowering our patients because knowledge is power.” Picture Credit: Canva
THE DIGITAL HEALTHCARE REVOLUTION
To conclude, we asked Gilad Tisona what he thinks the future holds for the field of digital healthcare. “I predict that in the future we will see many more applications trying to do what Helfy.co is doing – applications related to remote patient monitoring. I anticipate that within 10-15 years we will hardly ever visit the clinic or even the pharmacy in person – everything having to do with medicine will be done in our homes. My biggest satisfaction is hearing about the amazing change that Helfy.co has made in the lives of patients with reduced mobility, for whom every exit from home is an operation. There is even one customer with whom I am in touch, a disabled man, who never stops thanking us for the change Helfy.co has made in his life.”
Another matter which cannot be ignored in the context of technology is the investment world, which has put its eye on the digital healthcare arena. Since the onset of the corona crisis, there has been a consistent increase in the percentage of investments in companies developing digital healthcare. Doctors, patients, businessmen, developers, and ultimately investors – all realize that our healthcare will improve exponentially as a result of what we can call the “digital healthcare revolution”.
This article was written in cooperation with Gilad Tisona