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Future healthcare will benefit from rich data flows

Adaptable and sustainable healthcare in the future will need data as a basis for innovation. But the use of data requires shared rules and a change in attitudes. In its new working paper, Sitra outlines the challenges associated with the change and recommendations for proceeding.


Kirsi Suomalainen

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs


Digitisation and the versatile use of data will form the foundation of multi-local healthcare in the future, in which data produced by individuals outside institutions and care facilities will be as valuable a part of care, treatment, people’s engagement and service planning as data generated by conventional systems.

Sitra’s new working paper creates guidelines for how data can be used to promote health and well-being and what this requires from decision-makers and the entire health sector. The guiding principle in the change process is a human-driven healthcare system that protects individuals’ privacy and uses data extensively.

Harnessing and using data require extensive co-operation among public and private parties as well as a wide range of actions, from regulation and rules to a new infrastructure and the integrated use of smart devices in healthcare processes. This will take a considerable change in attitudes and culture but will be a transition that will also open up significant new business opportunities.

The working paper also highlights the challenges related to the use of data, such as fragmented legislation and a lack of data interoperability. Digital literacy must be constantly developed, and lessons must be learned from new operators in the sector. Threats to public health such as COVID-19 increase the importance of privacy protection while at the same time improving joint operational capabilities.

“Enormous amounts of data are collected about individuals, who should also benefit from it. In data-based services, transparency, trust and the individual’s opportunity to influence the use of their data are the key priorities. Genuinely human-driven well-being services benefit the entire network associated with data about individuals,” says Jaana Sinipuro, Project Director at Sitra.

One of the key goals of the working paper is to prove the need for a pluralistic and diverse discussion. For this reason, the working paper includes expert opinions from different sectors and professional backgrounds. The working paper Towards trustworthy health data ecosystems, is intended for the European Commission, its member states and the healthcare sector.

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