McKinsey: National E-health Initiatives on the Rise

E-health solutions are on the rise, says McKinsey
McKinsey report on countries that are scaling national e-health programmes says it is easing financial pressures on healthcare systems globally

The rapid digitisation of healthcare systems globally has accelerated the adoption of e-health technologies and data integration initiatives, a new McKinsey report says.

The report – Scaling National e-health – examines best practices from nations at the forefront e-health efforts.

It says that with rising financial pressures on healthcare systems globally, adopters of nationwide e-health platforms are projected to realise billions in cost savings through increased operational efficiencies and preventative care opportunities surfaced via data analytics. 

As more national healthcare authorities embark on these ambitious initiatives, applying proven best practices will be crucial to maximising their impact, the report says.

"Many countries are racing to modernise their healthcare infrastructure through digitisation and data integration," said Dr Gwen Bindra-Lipscombe, a Senior Partner at McKinsey. "Large-scale e-health ecosystems have the potential to dramatically improve care quality, efficiency, and patient outcomes."

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has emerged as a global leader, with its Integrated Care initiative facilitating data sharing across regional providers. 

This allows clinicians seamless access to comprehensive patient records regardless of where care was previously administered. The program has faced hurdles around stakeholder buy-in and legacy IT systems, but has realised significant cost savings and improved care continuity.

Denmark's platform, launched in 2003, served as one of the earliest national repositories for patient health data. Over 90% of Danish citizens have accessed the portal, which allows viewing of medical records, booking appointments, renewing prescriptions and secure messaging with providers. 

McKinsey: Governance key to e-health adoption

A robust governance model ensuring strict privacy controls has been critical to its widespread adoption.

In the US, the Veterans Health Administration's electronic health record system and data integration capabilities across its network of facilities are considered best-in-class examples of interoperability and health information exchange at a national scale. 

However, similar efforts in the broader healthcare sector have faced challenges around standardisation and willingness among private providers to share data.

Singapore's National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system acts as a centralised data repository pulling information from across public healthcare institutions. Beyond providing a comprehensive patient record, it also facilitates preventative health insights through analytics on aggregated population health data.

According to the McKinsey report, common success factors across exemplar national e-health initiatives include:

  • Robust data governance and security protocols to ensure privacy
  • Buy-in from healthcare providers through inclusive change management
  • Extensive stakeholder communication to drive widespread adoption
  • Flexibility to accommodate existing legacy systems and workflows
  • Long-term investment for ongoing optimisation and upgrades

"Implementing these systems requires overcoming technical hurdles, but just as critically, aligning incentives among all parties to embrace digitisation," said Bindra-Lipscombe. "Nations that get this balance right will be better positioned to rein in healthcare costs and improve quality of care through data-driven decision making."


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