Digital: Polimi, 1.5 billion spent on ‘connected’ healthcare in 2020, + 5% in one year

The pandemic has pushed the spread of digital tools in the health sector, also accelerating their knowledge and use by citizens, doctors and health facilities. But the digitalisation process of the health system is still fragmented and uneven. Spending on digital health grew by 5% compared to the previous year, reaching a value of 1.5 billion euros, equal to 1.2% of public health spending and about 25 euros for each citizen. This is what the Digital Innovation Observatory in Healthcare of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano reveals.

There are many applications of digital technology in the health sector: from the search for information (73% Italians searched online for information on correct lifestyles compared to 60% in 2020 and 43% obtained information online about the vaccination campaign), to prevention and monitoring their health, with 33% of patients using the App to monitor their lifestyle and more than one in five using the App to remember to take a drug (22%) or to monitor clinical parameters (21 %). Telemedicine has entered the agenda of political decision-makers, who have dedicated 1 billion euros of resources to it within the Pnrr and in the daily lives of doctors, among which the percentage of use has gone from just over 10% pre-Covid to over 30% during the health crisis for most applications.

One of the most critical points is the digital skills of healthcare professionals, today insufficient to ride the new trends of the technological revolution. 60% of specialist doctors and general practitioners have sufficient basic digital skills (Digital Literacy), related to the use of digital tools in daily life, but only 4% have a satisfactory level in all areas of digital skills professional (eHealth Competences). A more digital and connected NHS, then, cannot ignore adequate management and enhancement of data in healthcare, but the main asset for collecting data on patients, the Electronic Health Record (ESF), is still little exploited: only 38% of the population has heard of it and only 12% are aware of having used it.