Despite the current economic problems affecting the healthcare market in Spain, everyone involved in the decision making process agrees on the need to invest in innovation to take us in the right direction. In this particular case, new technologies will play a crucial role in speeding up and improving the work of medical teams. In turn this will have a direct impact on improving diagnostics and will help lead to a better quality of life for patients and better patient care.
To tackle these challenges, a new concept has recently been introduced at national level. Derived from the application of the use of new technologies in the health system, La Evaluación En Red (Network Evaluation) is an agency network set up to evaluate healthcare technologies and disseminate information to simplify the decision making process in the Spanish National Health System .
In Spain, the average life of diagnostic equipment in hospitals, such as CT scans or MRIs, is approximately 10 years. For radiology rooms it is 8 or 9 years. Often medical equipment continues to be used past this timeframe as many hospitals do not have the financial resources to buy new equipment. For that reason it is a priority to get the message across that the implementation of new technology is a mid-long term investment and not a cost, and one that will have a direct impact on the improvement of the service, diagnostics and the quality of patient care. In that sense, our country is an international leader in the implementation of information technology in the healthcare sector, ahead of countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Singapore or the United States. Our country is focused on how to make it easier to share patient information between organizations, which will then have a positive impact in preventing medical errors, reducing healthcare costs and reducing paperwork.
Of course there is a long way to go when it comes to the use and application of new technologies in the healthcare sector. One example that we can take as a reference point in Spain is the Agency for the Evaluation of Healthcare Technology in Andalucía, whose principal task is to provide quality information to help citizens to get involved in the decision making processes and promote an evaluative culture among healthcare professionals. At a European level there is also a global evaluation network run under the auspices of the Health Technology Assessment International association (HTAI), which over the last few years has become a benchmarking tool for healthcare managers and helps in the prioritization of healthcare resources and the adoption of new technologies.
It is truly necessary to create a culture of evaluation throughout Spain, using comparative models to raise awareness and to enable an appropriate response to global needs without losing the local perspective. This balance is essential, especially when it comes to evaluating technologies. The creation of a national agency will help with the decision to renew technology in hospitals and drive technology standards in all healthcare centres at a national level. The Evaluation Agency will also allow healthcare providers to make decisions on matters of healthcare technology that will help to optimize resources and improve the quality of patient care.
This long term investment in innovation should be the strategic vision of a healthcare model that goes beyond companies and public bodies to position the country as a reference at an international level.
A Spanish version of this post is available.