The use of modern technologies in the development of widely accessible healthcare

One of the most important issues raised during this year's World Economic Forum in Davos was the growing need for systemic changes that would ensure universal access to high-quality health care. It is a global challenge that is becoming a crucial social problem, faced not only by developing countries, but increasingly also by the developed countries. Can the dynamic development of modern technologies constitute a solution to this problem? Prominent world experts attending the event, which was organised by PZU and the Financial Times Live at the Polish House in Davos, attempted to answer this question.

Taking into account the global phenomenon of a growing population and the restricted access to health care associated with it, modern technologies, especially in the field of diagnostics and prevention, are becoming increasingly more essential as they support many specialised physicians around the world. At the same time, the medical services sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the global economy, both in terms of investment expenditures as well as the pace of development and implementation of the most modern technologies. 

During this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, the PZU Group, which has been actively involved in the development of the private medical care market in Poland for several years now, in cooperation with the Financial Times Live, organised a special event aimed at answering questions regarding the future of medical services in the face of the highly dynamic development of modern technologies as well as the introduction of critical changes that are necessary for the improvement of the quality and effectiveness of health care and for ensuring universal access to specialist medical care.

The representatives of the most innovative enterprises, research centres and global social organisations operating in the health care sector attended the event FT-PZU Spotlight on Global Access to Healthcare. The conference at the Polish House in Davos was opened by a speech by Pawel Surówka, Chief Executive Officer of PZU, who underlined the importance of healthcare for PZU Group development.

– Healthcare is one of our biggest growth engines. We are the biggest financial institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and as such we try to help our customers to build their financial as well as healthcare wellbeing. Right now we are testing some of the innovations that we see all over the world and we wanted to engage really the best world experts to discuss what could we do practically in order to touch people’s lives. How could we try to raise accessibility of healthcare in Poland – Paweł Surówka underlined.

Andrew Thompson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Proteus Digital Health, one of the world's leading specialists in modern pharmacology, which uses microchips and mobile solutions in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses, stressed that we are witnessing the most significant technological shift in the history of medicine.

– Achieving access to healthcare globally will require fundamental shift and the technology will be the key driver. It is going to do things that we cannot yet imagine because more technology is working today than in the rest of history combined. The mobile internet is a completely transformative technology and just like electricity in the past, it is remaking all aspects of our lives including healthcare – Andrew Thompson underlined.

This was followed by a debate moderated by David Crow, a Financial Times journalist, and attended by Andrew Thompson; Paweł Surówka; Stephen Klasko, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health; Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Healthcare and Githinji Gitahi, Group Chief Executive Officer of Amref Health Africa.

Stephen Klasko a transformative leader and advocate for a revolution in health care systems as well as the author of a book titled Bless This Mess: A Picture Story of Healthcare in America stated that regarding the significant change there are three things that need to happen.

– Health care like any other industry needs to be digital, like any other industry it needs to be global and we need to decide what humans do and what robots do – Stephen Klasko underlined. 

– Computers will always be smarter than doctors, but they never be as wise. We have to figure how to create humans that are really good of be more human than the robots, not being better robots than robots – he added.

Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Healthcare and the world’s leading expert in the field of artificial intelligence and cloud computing indicated at the great potential of technology as a driving force in health care.

– We never have been in an era in human history where we have created technology that has such a powerful potential force to democratize the access. I think the discussion that we have today is exactly in the right time and is incredibly important for the world – stated Peter Lee.

The FT-PZU Spotlight on Global Access to Healthcare event was one of the initiatives organised during the World Economic Forum as part of the activities of the Polish House in Davos, which was established as a result of the joint actions of PZU and Pekao Bank. It constituted another element of the #PolandCanDoNation campaign launched at the conference organised by PZU at the beginning of October 2018 in New York City.