Digital health experts discuss how technology is being used in every situation from helping refugees to providing consultations in self-driving cars.

Getting radical: how innovation is transforming the face of healthcare

By Tammy Lovell
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The next big question in digital health is how to make use of the “25th hour of the day” which will be created by self-driving cars, says Dr Markus Müschenich, Flying Health cofounder and managing partner.

Flying Health, which Müschenich describes as “something between a think tank, an incubator and an eco-system”, has been working on a project with German car manufacturer Audi to explore automotive health.

During the Health anywhere anytime session at the HIMSS Health 2.0 European conference in Helsinki this June, he will outline the company’s research into delivering care for stress prevention, diabetes and pregnancy in self-driving cars.

The average European spends around three and a half years of their life driving, according to Müschenich.

“We’re on the way to a completely new business field. Everybody working in digital health will be looking at bringing it into cars,” he tells MobiHealthNews.

“The car is like a room to meet your doctor in person, so it’s completely safe for data privacy,” he says.

In Germany around 600 million contacts occur between doctors and patients each year.

“If even 10% of these consultations were delivered online it’s 60 million - that’s a nice market,” says Müschenich.

Migrant health  

There are around 200 million migrants worldwide and climate change could potentially cause catastrophes in the next few years which will force more migration.  

“Digital health must come forward and offer solutions for prevention, diagnosis and very importantly follow-up for all these refugees and migrants,” says UniversalDoctor Project founder and CEO, Jordi Serrano-Pons, who is speaking at the session on Preparing the future: climate change, refugees and migrant health.

While working as a GP in Barcelona, Serrano-Pons was inspired to develop UniversalDoctor to overcome language barriers for migrants.

“Our company was born initially as a translation app, but slowly moved into the development of other digital tools to do with global health,” he explains.

UniversalDoctor has worked with the London School of Tropical Medicine and collaborated with the WHO in the creation of apps for mental health, palliative care and neglected diseases. 

The company’s latest initiative is Chatbots4GlobalHealth, which will allow migrants to ask questions and access information.

One challenge for digital health is finding solutions for migrants to access medical records from their home countries, says Serrano-Pons.

“There’s a huge necessity to carry the medical record from one place to be another, but there’s the issue of interoperability,” he adds.

No patient left behind

With a clinical background as a pharmacist, and personal experience of type 2 diabetes and depression, chief patient officer at MD Healthcare Consultants Mark Duman is able to give a unique take on health technology.

“I can give the digital health perspective, the patient perspective and the clinical perspective,” he says.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to mental illness, according to Duman, who will be moderating the session Health and wellbeing: no patient left behind.

“We’ve got to be very careful making assumptions that young people can use tech and old people who can’t, because neither is true,” he explains.

One benefit of technology, according to Duman, is that people can feel more comfortable being honest about their symptoms with a computer.

“It can be less personal than telling your doctor. There are pros and cons of talking to a machine versus a human,” he says.

When tech is used well, Duman says, it has the potential to provide mental health benefits.

For example, the Scandinavian company No Isolation provides a solution that allows children with long-term illnesses to take part at school via an app, while a robot sits at their desk keeping their place.

“The local authorities who have bought the product have seen great outcomes,” says Duman.  

All three speakers will take part in the Radical Health sessions at the HIMSS Health 2.0 event in Helsinki on 11-13 June. MobiHealthNews is a HIMSS Media publication.