Technological challenges for healthcare

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Posted By Irma J. McKeehan

The European health service is developing rapidly and has made good progress in many areas. Currently born EU citizens can live up to 30 years longer than their parents and grandparents. There are many indications that this trend will not only continue, but will intensify. The development of new technologies is one of the factors that will influence it.

According to latest sector-technology report “The Future of Healthcare”, changes in this sector will be driven by both the evolution of information technologies and business models and forms of work. However, before we throw ourselves into the predictions, let’s see how health care works today and what can realistically change over the next few years, maybe even months.

Europe is waiting for a medical revolution

There is no doubt that European health care faces many challenges. An ageing population, a growing incidence of chronic diseases, a shortage of nearly 5 million nurses and doctors, and financial issues – all put enormous pressure on the whole sector.

On the other hand, the health sector has more access than ever before to rapidly evolving information technologies and digital innovation. Thanks to them, as well as biotechnology achievements, healthcare professionals can provide services that none of the fathers of modern medicine has ever dreamt of.

Developments in cloud technologies have made it easier and faster to create and share new applications and services. Cloud has also completely changed the way healthcare can use IT infrastructure. Modern, often virtualised networks also make it easier and faster for health care to exchange medical information between institutions.

This clearly translates into better outcomes, more accurate diagnoses and quality of patient care. Digital technologies have completely transformed the way healthcare professionals work, improving the experience of their clients. All thanks to software, without the need for surgery on the living organism of the entire medical sector.

But this is only the beginning of the revolution. More innovations are already on the horizon, which have a chance to change the face of health care. Although artificial intelligence or machine learning are only at an early stage of development, they have a chance to revolutionize the way of treatment and care on a level comparable to that of penicillin recovery by Alexander Fleming.

However, we are not yet at the point where we can throw off full success and settle down. Although such technologies can speed up and improve certain processes, they cannot be implemented without thinking. Healthcare must assess innovation from the perspective of the five main challenges it faces.

Availability of information

Wider and easier access to medical data opens many new opportunities for the sector. By making more effective use of information, healthcare can accelerate research on new therapies and medicines, use data to support regulatory processes and, above all, achieve concrete results much faster.

Free access to data is an opportunity to improve the quality of treatment through faster diagnosis. This is an obvious benefit for those most concerned, namely patients.

However, in order to do so, new, sometimes untested technologies need to be implemented quickly, as well as tools for seamless data exchange. However, this is not always possible. Technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can help doctors to assess countless amounts of information, but this requires appropriate implementation and regulatory actions, e.g. on data protection, to which these tools must have access.


Ageing populations will put considerable pressure on health systems over the next few years. To date, no one has found an effective cure and treatment for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, and needs are only growing. This requires continuous and large-scale investment in research and development.

The pharmaceutical industry has an important role to play here, and the way it implements new technologies that are innovative and fit for purpose will be key to creating and developing breakthrough therapies.

This will be particularly important if countries work to activate elderly people who, instead of going to care homes, will be independent in their own homes. In order to achieve this goal, large-scale investments in telemedicine, IoT equipment and dress-up technology for health monitoring are also necessary.


Patients must be at the heart of all the changes that will affect the European health service. It is their perspective and needs that will play a key role in developing new medicines, designing services and developing treatments for chronic diseases.

Fortunately, modern health care understands today that we need to talk first and foremost with patients, not just about patients. This is not only the right thing to do, but also to improve the process of discovering, developing and delivering new treatments and care. The challenge now, however, is how best to deal with the amount of information that is acquired in this way.

On the one hand, there are technical issues related to data and the cloud, and on the other hand, there is still the issue of a proactive patient who, having access to his or her medical data, may pose a potential – even unaware – cyber threat to the IT systems of a health organization that will inevitably become one of the targets of cybercriminals in the future.


One of the main challenges posed by the growing amount of digital content and its availability is the undesirable but necessary development of new regulations by some companies. As healthcare is becoming a global system, compliance with all rules will become even more complicated in the near future.

This is due to the fact that the digital age of health is also beginning a kind of privacy loss, because the more data health care uses to provide us with the best possible care, the higher the risk of losing it. Blockchain-style innovations are likely to emerge in this area, especially in digital medical records.