As an American living abroad for ten years, I’ve been watching the commonalities between the U.S. and Europe around healthcare. Europeans have done a remarkable job in adopting technology within primary care, and the Americans have done an equally good job within acute care. There have been many lessons learned on both sides of the Atlantic — and we have more to learn as our continents converge to improve healthcare and reduce its cost.
Europe is leading the world in transforming how healthcare is delivered and paid for — and for providing equal access to all within each of the EU member States. As more consumers get older, access the Internet, and take control of their own healthcare requirements, the demand for quality healthcare will increase dramatically in Europe and elsewhere.
We’re at a pivotal point in our history where societal and market forces are creating a huge demand for governments to “throw” money at the problem, thus increasing healthcare GDP. But most countries — including the U.S. — cannot continue the dramatic expenditures that healthcare reform will require without fundamental changes to their programs. Many countries, such as Denmark, have learned this lesson, and have paired real reform with technology to make information readily available to doctors, other clinicians and patients.
IBM has been on the cutting edge working with governments (Denmark, Australia, China, Canada, Egypt and many others) and companies to improve care, predict and prevent disease, and make it easier for people to make smarter personal health and wellness decisions. IBM actually touches more parts of the global healthcare delivery ecosystem than any other company.
We remain eternal optimists; we’ve been a part of this change in many countries and organizations, and believe that both Europe and the U.S. will continue to make progress transforming healthcare. I recently attended the World Health Congress in Brussels, where my colleague Sean Hogan spoke about smarter healthcare:
Doug Cusick is IBM’s Industry Executive, Europe & Growth Markets for Healthcare & Life Sciences. He lives in London, England and Seattle, Washington.