Digital health in focus
Digital health refers to all areas of healthcare where technology is used to impact people’s health, whether on an individual level (e.g. through wearables), or on a national level (e.g. digital health national strategies, and policies on the protection of health data).
While once on the periphery of more mainstream digital policy areas, digital health has since gained prominence with the introduction of new regulations and strategies. The recent guidelines by the World Health Organization(link is external), on how countries can use digital health technology to improve people’s health, offers new ideas. For instance, births could be registered through mobile phones, and health professionals can benefit from online training.
The Geneva-based organisation, which last year classified gaming addiction as a disorder(link is external), is also tackling the wellbeing of children, and has offered guidelines on the amount of screen-time for children(link is external). A sedentary lifestyle, even for young children, can impact their physical and mental wellbeing. WHO recommends that children under the age of five limit their screen-time and non-active behaviour in favour of more active playtime.
When it comes to health data, the Council of Europe recently issued a new set of guidelines for the protection of sensitive data(link is external) in line with its recently update data protection convention.
Since digital health is a growing market(link is external), and continues to be one of the most highly attacked sectors(link is external), legislation and policy on health data will need to ensure that the data is adequately protected from cyberattacks, breaches, and other risks.
Digital health is attractive for start-ups and other companies, which are now investing heavily in it(link is external). Digital technologies, entrepreneurship of the private sector, and involvement of the medical professionals can make healthcare more accessible, affordable, and secure.