These days the national health sector is facing new challenges regarding its ability to offer specific care and assistance services. First of all, the growing rate of aging population puts a strain on public resources. The OECD estimates that in 2050 the over 60 will move from one-tenth to one-fifth of the population. It is natural to ask ourselves how the health system is preparing to manage a growing elderly population.
Secondly, chronic diseases with 23.6 million cases in 2015 generate the highest health expenditure in Europe and represent the first cause of death in almost all over the world. Chronic diseases originate at a young age and, given the long course, require long-term care.
Despite the increase in people’s prevention and awareness of these conditions, the management of chronic diseases by hospitals is limited to the treatment of acute manifestations of the disease. Networks of people and care services outside of medical facilities, thus, become essential to ensure an increasingly autonomous management of the disease by patients, and the least impact of the disease on their lifestyles.
These problems are reflected in an industry that is victim of strong financial pressures and continuous cuts in spending: the figures estimated by the OECD indicate a daily healthcare expenditure for chronic diseases in Europe of about 3 billion euro.
Although the Italian public system is facing a rather critical situation, the advent of digital technology and the opportunities offered by social innovation can play an important role in managing and addressing care.
“We need to think differently about how we respond to the current challenges in the healthcare sector”Halima Khan, Executive Director Health Lab, Nesta
Even if still underestimated, digital technologies can harness the power of knowledge and improve the health conditions of the population:
- Digital technologies enable people to track and analyze their health data and share them with others to help prevent and manage chronic diseases.
- Improvements in digital technologies allow an increase in the explosion of personalized medicine, supported by genomics.
Social innovation allows a better use of people’s “power”:
- Social innovation is the key to a revolution in the way people are involved in their care and those of others, improving the quality of treatments.
- New knowledge about human behavior will improve clinical quality and make it easier for people to lead healthy lifestyles.
“There are two big drivers of change in Healthcare: People and Knowledge”
Halima Khan, Executive Director Health Lab, Nesta
These approaches can help the national health system to improve its services and create sustainable long-term models.
The traditional medical model works effectively when it has to resolve acute or emergency illness situations, but fails to solve health problems that require a significant change in lifestyle such as chronic illness or disability.
Halima Khan, Executive Director of the Nesta Health Lab, during the event Nesta Italia Incontra presented People Powered Health (PPH). This approach, already used in England, combines health services with social innovations to provide a complementary assistance to the health system. On our Facebook page, you can find the video of Halima’s presentation and of the following panel discussion with Zoe Romano (WeMake) and Elena Como (Agenzia LAMA).
In this view, the patient is no longer a passive subject who receives treatment, but is considered as an active subject directly involved in his own care.
“People directly experiencing the issues are the most precious resource to find innovative and unexpected solutions in the healthcare system and involve community in the process”Halima Khan, Executive Director Health Lab, Nesta
The key points that define the People Powered Health approach are:
- The person is recognized as an asset: relatives, friends and various communities can work alongside health professionals to support patients who suffer from chronic conditions;
- The relationship between patients and doctors becomes a relationship between peers and more oriented to the needs of the individual and not of the system;
- Health is no longer solely the responsibility of public welfare, but extends its boundaries to include social assistance, voluntary organizations, and formal and informal support communities.
People Powered Health services are based on the concept of co-creation where solutions are designed and delivered “with” people rather than “for” them. Collaborative design establishes an alternative to the dominant model of public services in which professionals design and provide services for needy users.
During the Nesta Italia Incontra event three examples were presented of how the People Powered Health concept can be realized:
My support broker: it is a social enterprise that recruits and trains people to become professional Support Brokers and equips them with a unique set of resources to plan, provide and manage the most suitable health plans for them.
Breathe easy support groups : it is a project promoted by the British Lung Foundation, they are support groups formed by people suffering from lung diseases and by specialized nurses.
Umotif : it is an app that traces the symptoms relevant to people’s health and signals drugs to be taken and reminders of activities. The data you enter is used to create a unique health report.
We would like to discover the People Powered Health projects in Italy, map them and give visibility to the most interesting ones. If you have a project, complete this form and help us identify the innovations that are changing the healthcare sector.