Health systems around the world are facing persisting and growing challenges, including an ageing population, health inequity, and workforce shortages.

As the recent pandemic further widened the healthcare workforce gap – the WHO now predicts a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2035 – there are two things that health organisations can do now to cushion its impact. 

In the keynote session “Health that Connect, Tech that Cares,” Hal Wolf, HIMSS President and CEO, suggested making digital health an extension of health facilities and training the workforce to build this infrastructure. 

As part of this strategy, AI’s crucial role in the provision of personalised care cannot be overemphasised. Through AI, hospitals now have predictive modelling capability that allows care teams to prioritise cases and reallocate time back from manually testing patients to providing actual care. 

However, providers must “think of AI as a tool, not a target,” Wolf stressed.

In developing such AI applications, Wolf reminded providers that there must be “a clear understanding and clear direction.” “We have to recognise that there are biases and challenge those biases in applications.”

The integrity of data must also be ensured, he added. “We all know in our hospitals today, if we have bad data, we just have to make decisions based upon what we have. But it’s a constant improvement, and EMRs and the back-end data structure will help us.”

In addition, connectivity must also be established to allow care teams to seamlessly access tools and applications from anywhere. Wolf referred to Indonesia’s plan to set up satellite connectivity for puskesmas, or community health centres in rural areas, as an example of initiatives to raise health equity in underserved communities.

Throughout this journey of digital transformation, Wolf urged the participants to share their lessons in their digital transformation journey.

“We talk about the scars on our backs and the toils of what we have gone through to achieve where we are. If we fail to share both that with the successes, we will fail ourselves,” he said in closing.


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