What drives digital transformation in healthcare in European countries?

Shaping the future of European Healthcare

Digital technologies are crucial enablers for bridging the gap between demand for healthcare and the capacity of healthcare services to meet demand. But for Europe’s healthcare services, the challenges and solutions are complex. This report surveyed 1,800 clinicians across Europe to explore the potential for digital transformation.

Digital technologies are crucial enablers for bridging the gap between demand for healthcare and the capacity of healthcare services to meet demand. Leveraging the opportunities and efficiencies offered by digital transformation is key for any organisation to remain viable and fit for the future, but for Europe’s healthcare services, which are made up of multiple services and organisations, across a range of geographies and jurisdictions, the challenges and solutions are complex.

This report surveyed 1,800 clinicians to explore the potential for digital transformation to address the current and future challenges facing healthcare systems in Europe.


The drivers of digital transformation in healthcare

Healthcare systems across Europe are facing unprecedented pressure. While the quantity and quality of care has improved, the scale and complexity of healthcare needs have grown, together with public expectations of more personalised and convenient services. 

At the same time, healthcare staff and resources have become increasingly constrained and the gap between supply and demand has grown. Most countries are looking to digital transformation to close this gap but progress has been slow and the digital maturity of providers, both within and between countries, varies widely.

Over the past six months, the need to respond swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital health technologies, but more remains to be done to ensure the equity and sustainability of healthcare.

Shaping the future of European Healthcare

Download the report

Perspectives of our survey of clinicians on digital transformation

To explore further, we launched a survey of 1,800 clinicians to assess the use of digital technologies across seven European countries. Its aim was to understand the views of frontline clinicians working across primary and secondary care about the challenges they face and the benefits they are seeing from technology adoption.

When asked about the current state of digitalisation in their country, the most frequently mentioned negative words were ‘Slow, Complex and Bureaucratic’. The three most frequently mentioned positive words were ‘Fast, Innovative and Efficient’.

Overall, those surveyed were hopeful about the future. The majority of European clinicians feel that it will take less than five years from now to achieve a fully digital healthcare system. Their expectations are also largely positive. The top three words they hope to use to describe the system in five years from now are ‘Fast, Efficient, Simple’.

Challenges to digital transformation

Our primary research shows that the benefits from digital transformation adoption vary widely. To realise the benefits, infrastructure, cultural and operational changes are needed including improvements in the education and training of clinicians. They also need to adapt to the fact that patients are becoming better informed and more demanding than in the past.

Responses to the survey identified the top three challenges organisations face in implementing digital technologies as: bureaucracy in healthcare (57.4 per cent), the cost of technologies (50.3 percent) and finding the right technologies (49.0 percent).

While the responses were broadly similar across the seven countries, the top three challenges included training staff to use technology among clinicians in Italy and Portugal, and sharing patient data among those in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, majority of clinicians across Europe said that their organisation is ‘very well’ or ‘reasonably well prepared’ to adopt digital technologies, with Denmark was most prepared and Germany the least.

Shaping the future of healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare by at least a decade. Indeed, the legacy of the pandemic is likely to be new relationship paradigms based on collaboration, ‘good will’ and heightened levels of trust. Attitudes to care have changed and boundaries that have been in place for a long time have been removed creating the opportunity for new health care behaviours.

Moreover, in catalysing digital transformation and the adoption of technologies at scale, key stakeholders will increasingly collaborate to realise a future for healthcare that is truly predictive, preventive, personalised and participatory.

Just as experience in other industries has driven consumer demand for digital on-demand accessible, personalised services, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven European citizens’ expectations for care anywhere, anytime and an acceptance that care can now take place outside traditional healthcare settings.

Download the report to read more about

  • Key actions to close the gap
  • Improving citizen’s experience of digital health
  • Increased adoption of technologies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The SMART characteristics needed to encourage adoption at scale

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