November 10, 2020
1. Keeping the patient at the centre
Fostering the digital health literacy of patients is essential to address disparities along the digital divide and contribute to equity in access to care.
Digital health solutions can overcome existing barriers for patient access to health education and care and can contribute to increased choice and transparency. The use of telemedicine, health apps, platforms and other digital information-sharing tools provides opportunities to empower patients in accessing information, addressing financial challenges such as reducing travel costs or immediate out-of-pocket payments, and managing the navigation of their health journey between providers and facilities, which in cancer care can be particularly fragmented.
At the same time, it is important to acknowledge specific needs of groups (such as the elderly or indigenous communities), who may have a low level of digital literacy or who, for cultural or other reasons are not able to access or are resistant to new technologies or nontraditional healthcare. Fostering digital education and digital health literacy of patients is essential to address disparities along the digital divide and contribute to equity in access to care.
The generation and systematisation of data as part of digital health innovation solutions, such as centralized health registries, electronic medical records, referral systems, etc. has the potential to lead to better diagnostics, decision-making and treatment and can therefore have a direct impact on patient outcomes. In turn, improved access to their own data can enable patients to be better informed, engaged and self-managed. This contributes to patient confidence, in particular when navigating complex health systems in relation to cancer diagnosis, treatment and care. Keeping patients at the centre and enhancing transparency and thus public trust in the concept of digital health are therefore key.