Digital transformations are well underway in all areas of life. These have brought about substantial and wide-reaching changes, in many areas, including health. But large gaps remain in our understanding of the interface between digital technologies and health, particularly for young people.
The Lancet and Financial Times Commission on governing health futures 2030: growing up in a digital world argues digital transformations should be considered as a key determinant of health. But the Commission also presses for a radical rethink on digital technologies, highlighting that without a precautionary, mission-oriented, and value-based approach to its governance, digital transformations will fail to bring about improvements in health for all.
Four action areas for sustainable health futures
The governance of digital technologies in health and health care must be driven by public purpose, not private profit. Its primary goals should be to address the power asymmetries reinforced by digital transformations, increase public trust in the digital health ecosystem, and ensure that the opportunities offered by digital technologies and data are harnessed in support of the missions of public health and UHC. To achieve these goals, the Lancet and Financial Times Commission propose four action areas that it consider game-changers for shaping health futures in a digital world.
- First, it suggests that decision makers, health professionals, and researchers consider—and address— digital technologies as increasingly important determinants of health.
- Second, it emphasises the need to build a governance architecture that creates trust in digital health by enfranchising patients and vulnerable groups, ensuring health and digital rights, and regulating powerful players in the digital health ecosystem.
- Third, it calls for a new approach to the collection and use of health data based on the concept of data solidarity, with the aim of simultaneously protecting individual rights, promoting the public good potential of such data, and building a culture of data justice and equity.
- Finally, it urges decision makers to invest in the enablers of digitally transformed health systems, a task that will require strong country ownership of digital health strategies and clear investment roadmaps that help prioritise those technologies that are most needed at different levels of digital health maturity.
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