This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Abdulrahman Batarfi, a third year medical student at Hadhramout University College of Medicine (HUCOM) Hadhramout, Yemen. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.
“Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy ” Stallman R, 1953. The concept of digital medicine is not a new or revolutionary one. For example, technologies, such as medical images and telemedicine date back over 100 years, while prototype wearable devices have been used to tackle obesity since the 1940s. 3D-printed prosthetics, tailored medication,and smart watches that track vital signs all have something in common. People’s medical services are delivered using innovative digital technology. Such cutting-edge technology can be implemented into health-care systems to help them operate more efficiently and effectively, as well as to provide more access to medical care services for the people they serve.
While technology is at the heart of any digital medical system, the related transformations cannot be viewed purely through a technological lens. Digital technologies need to deliver affordable, easy-to-use healthcare solutions to a growing and aging population in which new technologies are often slow to be adopted and accepted by the general populace.
As a result, significant efforts were required to normalize the use of digital medicine on a social level. These efforts should involve broad-reaching educational initiatives to upskill both health professionals and the general population. However, increased connected health solutions come with increased safety and security concerns, the lack of evidence-based digital medical standards, as well as privacy, data governance, and ethical issues, are major obstacles to the growth of digital medicine.
Privacy is another issue that has arisen as a result of the digitalization of medical servers . All aspects of digital medicine eventually generate data that must be safeguarded. Although anonymization methods have advanced in recent years, re-identification is still required because fresh data must be appropriately integrated with prior data for the same person.
Another problem that emerged from digital medicine is Data governance. Despite the fact that technological advancements reduce costs and as a result, most governments are moving toward digitalization, barely half of them have privacy laws in place to protect data. As a result, governments must establish regulations and standards for data governance.
In the digitization of medical care, there are also ethical issues to consider. One of these ethical issues is user permission. Users should be aware that data is being collected. Although most programs request this permission, users frequently ignore it, and virtually all users just press the “I accept” button without first reading the application’s terms of service.
Digital medicine will support the future needs of medicine by analyzing the massive amounts of recorded patient’s data that are generated by high-tech devices from multiple sources. Many of the digital medical solutions are still in their infancy and need to be improved. Furthermore, they need extensive and successful validation in human testing and improved clinical reliability. Along with digital medical growth, researchers, scientists, clinicians, payers, and regulators must accompany technology developers to reach the ultimate goal, which is to help patients live longer and feel better.
About the author
Abdulrahman Batarfi is a third year medical student at Hadhramout University College of Medicine (HUCOM) Hadhramout, Yemen. He is a member of (NAMS-Yemen) and is active in the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) in Yemen, currently serving as member of SCOPH. He is extremely inclined towards preventive and social medicine to create an impact in the public health sector, they are vested in youth participation and medical student empowerment in addressing global health issues for the good of society.