The digitalization of the healthcare sector is a big challenge. Difficulties are not limited only to the application of digital tools or found exclusively in the Slovene national context; however, a digital transformation could help remedy many of the current downsides of the system. For instance, it could be an opportunity to increase the efficiency of the entire healthcare system, to improve patient treatment outcomes, to ensure long-term financial sustainability, to maintain the achieved high level of healthcare and its accessibility to all residents.
Every stakeholder within the ecosystem should benefit from a successful digital transformation. Due to the Sars-Cov-2 epidemic and its’ profound impact on the health care system many medical doctors had to reconsider the use and accept digital solutions for the first time. The widespread introduction of telemedicine at the national level offers an opportunity to accelerate the implementation of other technologies as well: personalized medicine, payment according to the results of treatment, artificial intelligence, and others. While only the Ministry of Health can be on the forefront of the digital transformation, there are at least a few necessary preconditions which can influence its success: the participation of all stakeholders in the health ecosystem as well as the involvement of patients and health professionals. Digital tools need to support changes within the entire healthcare system, the time for pilot and partial solutions is over.
Every system, not just the health one, tries to sustain itself. Only when the circumstances surrounding it change to such a degree that it is impossible for the once stable system to persevere, changes will occur. In healthcare, these big changes are not caused solemnly by digitalisation and the epidemic. We live in a time of great structural changes within the society: political, environmental, technological, demographic, economic and normative. The impact of an aging population alone will be a major stress factor testing the sustainability of the system.
Let’s finish where we started. Digital transformation represents an opportunity and an effective way to achieve many of the changes which will have to be introduced into the system if we want to increase the welfare of our patients. Moreover, we must think of the wellbeing of other stakeholders as well if we want to initiate the transformation. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health has to be the initiator.