Russians want to more actively participate in their health care management

10 march 2016

The Analytical Center held a meeting to discuss digital healthcare, its importance from the economic and social points of view as well as the implementation of the current and future digital healthcare projects in this field.

Digital healthcare is when doctors and patients can communicate remotely through audio, video channels and the Internet at any place and any time thanks to the convergence of various technologies. Natalia Ushakova, Vice President of Opora Russia LLC, believes that the main functions of digital healthcare include optimizing resources, preventing diseases, protecting the rights of patients and giving them a more significant role to play in the healthcare process, liquidating HR imbalances and improving productivity in the sector. “We have got to encourage patients to closely cooperate with their GP outside the clinic, develop a policy aimed at optimizing and improving the quality of medical services, reducing costs so that the money saved in this manner can be spent on developing technologies that allow patients and their doctors to communicate remotely,” Ms. Ushakova said.

80% of Russian Internet users are below the age of 55 and a recent study of the existing internet resources and social media sites for patients suggest that people’s interest is increasingly switching from simply looking for information and treatment regiments to disease prevention and healthy lifestyles, the expert concluded. As far as social media sites for doctors are concerned, there are already quite a few of them in Russia. “Polls indicate that 90% of Russian doctors are interested in developing professional communities and social media sites. The number of medical professionals in online professional communities is set to grow over the next few years with doctors constantly finding new uses for various internet resources,” Ms. Ushakova noted.

Yekaterina Meleshko, the person in charge of social public-private projects at Federal Center for Project Financing OJSC, believes that public-private partnership can play a positive role in promoting digital healthcare in Russia, since at the end of the day sustained financing is what is needed to develop healthcare infrastructure. “In our country, historically, the main investor in social and healthcare infrastructure has always been the state and the state is viewed as the most reliable and most familiar source of finance,” Ms. Meleshko said. “But if we want to improve the quality and availability of medical services we have to be spending more. Today, healthcare spending is just 5% of GDP but if we want to achieve the European level of healthcare services we need to be spending about 13% of GDP, which is impossible under the current conditions, so we need to look for alternative sources of finance.” The expert is sure that healthcare is a very attractive area for private investors where they can develop sustainable business and public-private partnership is growing into an effective element for creating the requisite infrastructure for digital healthcare and in many regions it is the only option available to create such infrastructure.    

If we want to improve quality and availability of healthcare we need to be spending too. Today, healthcare spending is just 5% of GDP but if we want to achieve the European level of healthcare services we need to be spending about 13% of GDP, which is impossible under the current conditions, so we need to look for alternative sources of finance.

Yekaterina Meleshko, manager for Social public-private projects at the Federal Center for Project Financing.

35% of heads of medical organizations believe that a structural reform is needed as well as efforts aimed at developing digital healthcare; however, only 19% think their organization is ready to offer digital healthcare services, the participants in the event noted. There is clearly a lot of interest among the population: people want to take a more active part in managing their health, experts are sure.