The COVID-19 crisis has been a huge stress test for the health sector in all countries. We are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and, pending new treatments and vaccines, the main objective in the nearest future will be to mitigate the impact of possible outbreaks and prepare the entire health system for it.
But we must also begin to face a series of challenges that we have pending as a society, to improve citizen health as a whole.
First, the so-called personalized medicine must be promoted once and for all. The successive waves of innovation in techniques, tools, and technologies allow diagnoses and treatments to be personalized and adapted to the different characteristics and singularities of each citizen (age, health condition, etc.). This will require changing little by little certain inertia about how the different public health plans are managed and, also, will require an increase in investment that will have an impact on the other hand in savings due to the spectacular improvement in results that can be foreseen with the generalization of personalization. A personalization that must be accompanied by more and better prevention and a boost in a predictive capacity.
Secondly, technology already makes teleworking possible in many sectors. The crisis in which we are immersed has highlighted that the provision of many services and many tasks can be faced using the technologies at our disposal. Why not take advantage of this situation to promote telemedicine? It is not just a question of aesthetic elegance, or saying how modern it is to consult online! On the contrary, it is a true revolution to serve each person better, to drastically reduce certain costs of the current system, and to be able to take these savings towards investments in other facets that improve the system as a whole.
Thirdly, and closely related to the above, we are going to have to talk very seriously and in-depth about adequate public-private collaboration in health. Faced with those who, from legitimate ideological positions, reduce the debate to a kind of binary combat: either public or private, I believe that greater collaboration between the public and private sectors should be promoted with honesty, transparency, and knowledge. If we want to improve the public health sector, it must collaborate more with the private sphere and companies. And vice versa. It is necessary to break with that dichotomy and build bridges, tear down demagogic schemes, talk until exhaustion and reconcile wills. Many professionals and managers honestly want to improve the health services offered to the population. Let’s make it a priority.
The fourth question is a kind of desideratum to be able to face the challenges described above. We need to improve and increase the role of health startups in the health sector as a whole. Concerning the public sector and traditional private industry, startups not only represent a dynamic and innovative sector but by their very nature, they are in a better position to be able to face some tasks, some challenges, and surely many of the objectives that exist both in the public and private sectors. For this, an effort must be made to generate quality knowledge about the contribution to society and the health system of these startups and join efforts as startups that work in the matter, so that new solutions, services, and projects are known. and valued. eHealth startups should and can contribute as essential agents in improving Spanish healthcare. If they want to face this challenge and be considered in the global equation, startups must substantially improve their public affairs practices and strategies.
Director of Public Affairs of the Spanish Association of Startups