Addressing challenges of limited resources, rising chronic diseases, and inequities in acess, the World Economic Forum Advocates for enabling factors and ethical frameworks in the implementation of AI and Digital Health Systems.

Reimagining the relationship between artificial intelligence and data digitization in healthcare systems. That was the goal of the report on digitization and artificial intelligence compiled by the World Economic Forum last month.

Although it has been talked about for quite some time now, in this groundbreaking document the WEF identified the issues that could complicate the understanding between AI and health systems in the near future while also suggesting strategies to try to overcome them. Specifically these are the three issues that will need to be addressed: limited resources, increasing number of chronic diseases, and finally diversity and difficulty of access to health systems.

In the first case, it is indicated how there is a large growth in the expenditure of the costs of running health systems and simultaneously insufficient staffing in relation to the number of sick people. In addition, better living conditions improve and this becomes longer, reasoning that the time in which people get sick also increases, chronicizing some diseases.

Finally there is the issue related to the fact that not all health care systems are equal and this creates inequities. Just think of our SSN that has very marked diversities according to the territory where one resides with very long waiting lists in the South or insufficient facilities compared, for example, to Lombardy.

The WEF report therefore underscores how the real problem is not a lack of innovation; generative AI and its evolution in fact allow for increasingly personalized pathways capable of predicting each patient’s problems instead of intervening as pathologies occur.

However, all of this is very difficult when there is a structural shortage of staff, an increase in costs, and the challenge in providing a fair and universal service.

After consulting with more than 80 leaders in health care and technology, WEF identified five enabling factors necessary for the successful large-scale implementation of digital health in health systems: first, the data collection system-health care institutions must actively promote the collection and circulation of health data, fully utilizing standardized and interoperable data that can be shared throughout the care pathway; next, health systems must establish a unique identifier for each patient, ensuring easy integration with technology infrastructure and developing platforms that can support analytics using artificial intelligence; health systems must commit to investing in the creation and enhancement of infrastructure with a focus on sustainable solutions; to improve outcomes, health systems must recognize the value of all professions involved, recruiting so-called digital talent and investing in training and upgrading employees’ digital skills; and finally, regulators and government leaders must develop digital systems, regulations, and policies that promote ethics in the use of data and new technologies, with a focus on artificial intelligence and generative AI It is essential to rapidly adopt digital solutions that not only digitize the user interface, but also enhance the supporting infrastructure to address challenges in healthcare.

Health systems must first establish a robust and proactive digital strategy, with government and health leaders prioritizing investments in digital health that can address the most pressing global health challenges. In the second stage, stakeholders need to develop the digital health infrastructure, encourage data collection, sharing, and use, develop health skills, align incentives, facilitate access to funding, and create suitable regulations, leading the transition to a value-based health care model. For governments and health leaders, there is an opportunity to invest in population health, as health care brings value to all strata of society.

Digital health also provides opportunities for the private sector to invest and build businesses, helping to improve overall health.

For WEF, therefore, the time has come to build a truly sustainable, equitable and coherent health care system that delivers quality care and actually improves population health, not just the treatment of disease.