Global tech companies are now entering the healthcare market, and they are doing so with platforms that always bring tangible value: They simplify how information is handled, provide orientation, optimize processes, generate new knowledge, and even activate our reward systems. Offers tailored to users through algorithmic processing of user data are enticing with reduced transaction costs, and these sometimes solve problems that have to date seemed unsolvable. This innovative power and associated disruptive business models will further accelerate the speed of the digital transformation process in healthcare, and they will fundamentally change balances of power.
Network effects and economies of scale can lead to rapid growth, to the point that individual platform providers already have more data than traditional actors within the healthcare system. In parallel, closed systems and monopolies on data complicate the ability to switch providers and give rise to technological dependencies, which generate new powers: By establishing platform rules, artificially regulating access, and utilizing many additional mechanisms, platform providers can manage interactions in the healthcare system; guide patient flows; and, ultimately, influence performance.
To date, attempts to obligate global tech companies to comply with various standards by way of regulation often amount to nothing due to the high level of complexity and lack of transparency on platforms. At the same time, the question arises as to why the development and operation of such platforms largely occurs within the private sector, and whether the public sector and actors in civil society could also make use of the opportunities presented by new platforms. National healthcare systems must decide whether they will limit themselves to regulating such, or whether they will choose to create their own offers.
We are convinced that public healthcare systems recognize the power of the innovation and guidance that platforms offer, and that they will reflect on their own roles and position themselves in the healthcare market with their own offers. In the “Trusted Health Ecosystems” project, we are charting a course and working with national and international partner organizations to develop a concept and product vision for a healthcare platform of the future, see our website.
At the center of our vision are patients and anyone using the healthcare system. In the course of the digital transformation process and of bio-technological advancements, users will be confronted with an increasingly broad spectrum of treatment options, a growing number of entities, and new technologies. The number of decisions that need to me made increases with the complexity of the system, and alongside options for participation, personal responsibility also increases. Given the level of interaction people now have with social media and fake news, there are major challenges where individual decision making is concerned, because good decisions always require good information.
By selecting and bundling information and service offers, the national health platform should facilitate access to trustworthy offers. The intent is to support patients in making informed decisions and being active and co-productive with regard to treatment processes. A further aim is to improve healthcare overall by creating a digital trust space that guarantees data privacy, data security, and informational self-determination, while also promoting data solidarity in parallel.