Tech-savvy Baby Boomers to Drive Demand for Ehealth

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
March 30, 2012 /

A report from KPMG together with the Manchester Business School has predicted that the “power of the crowd” is the key to transformation.

The report, Accelerating Innovation: the power of the crowd, is based on in-depth interviews with ehealth executives representing 15 countries, as well as insights from KPMG’s global healthcare partners. Due to changing demographics, the need to reduce costs and to increase the quality of care, ehealth is seen as a crucial approach to address the global imperative to improve and advance healthcare.

Nearly 60 percent of the healthcare executives interviewed said that the top two drivers of ehealth will be patient expectation (61 percent) and an increase in efficiency (58 percent). More than 30 percent of respondents said that the main barrier to sustainable ehealth systems is funding (34 percent), while 29 percent believed it to be professional attitudes.

According to Dr. Mark Britnell, KPMG’s Global Chair for Health and a partner in the UK firm: “Implementing ehealth requires conviction and commitment, but the benefits to patients can be enormous if done well. Our global study offers direction for success and showcases leading examples which can give decision makers the confidence and courage to press on.”

“In order for ehealth systems to deliver on the promises of reduced costs and improved quality of care, clinicians will need to be brought on board – either willingly or in response to consumer demand,” Britnell added.

“Today’s smartphone user is tomorrow’s patient who wants greater access and control of their healthcare and their medical records,” says Jan De Boer, Global Health IT Lead for KPMG in the Netherlands. “And, along with patients, tech-savvy clinicians need to be seen not as a force to be won over, but as a catalyst for change.”

To create real change in the healthcare system, through telehealth or telemedicine, the report cites three conditions essential for success: crowd-accelerated innovation, collaborative alignment and creative dislocation.

Crowd accelerated innovation denotes the impact and influence of the collective – when many people come together to affect change, such as the human genome project or the free internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Collaborative alignment requires the focused interests and efforts of a wide range of participants. Creative dislocation proposes that process and systems must be abandoned to move forward, such as digital imaging versus conventional film x-rays.

Successful projects that employ these approaches include the Care Connectivity Consortium (CCC) in the US, Singapore’s National Electronic Health Record system (NEHR) and Denmark’s ehealth portal,

But more often is the case that electronic health projects have lost momentum or collapsed under their own complexity.

“The case for ehealth has never been more compelling yet its performance has never been more mixed,” says De Boer. “Ehealth systems do not develop in isolation. Planners must ensure that the right environment has been created to support the transformation.”

Recently the UK Department of Health released its “Headline Findings” on the Whole System Demonstrator project, the largest randomized control trial of its kind in the world. This investigation of telehealth and telecare reveals that “if used correctly, telehealth can deliver a 15 percent reduction in acute and emergency patient visits, a 20 percent reduction in emergency admissions and a 45 percent reduction in mortality rates.”

“While there is no single path to ehealth transformation, it is too important and too expensive for organizations to repeat the mistakes of their peers,” said Britnell. “Indeed, much value will come from sharing lessons between countries, systems, institutions and professionals.”


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