Digital Medicine: Slow but Steady Path to Full DigitalizationBy Miriam Bello | Thu, 10/22/2020 - 11:56
Q: What goals has GSK developed during the pandemic?
A: We are seeking to providing physicians with the tools to better engage or care for their patients online, whether they have never had contact with telemedicine or they have already implemented it in their daily practices. This is linked to the digital health academy program, the first in the pharmaceutical industry. This online project allows doctors nationwide to get up to date on digital health issues completely free of charge. There are 16 interactive sessions that include online discussion panels with experts in the health and digital industry. These have a curricular value and include a certificate that is endorsed by the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Now that the digital transformation is constant and imperative, the health sector and all other industries are being challenged. For us, it is very important to share this knowledge. We have done studies to deepen our understanding of the needs of patients and doctors. Since the arrival of the pandemic, we have observed that there are certain specialties that are much more conducive to digital communication with patients. In an online survey of over 95,000 physicians, 4,000 of them from Mexico, we found a disparity between specialties in telemedicine. For example, in specialties like psychiatry, dermatology and even general medicine, more than 20 percent of consultations are online. In other specialties, however, less than 10 percent of consultations are online. This is mainly because doctors while do have an interest in being part of telemedicine, the biggest barrier for them is not knowing how to start. This is one of the reasons why we are developing an interactive course that allows doctors to get into the digital world and be able to provide better care for their patients.
Q: What challenges has GSK faced to introduce this model and get the medical community actively involved?
A: GSK has been working on a digital transformation model for over five years. Even before the arrival of the pandemic, investment in this type of technology in Latin America was already growing. In 2019, it increased by 15 percent in the region. Brazil has always been a leader in the region, followed by Mexico and Argentina. As a company, we have a solid strategy that enables channels and ensures we have the infrastructure to connect with doctors around the world. This has allowed us to maintain our interactions with our clients and offer them tools to provide a good diagnosis or simply stay in touch with their patients.
At the local level, the challenge is undoubtedly to empower actors in the sector, whether it is the pharmaceutical industry, government, doctors or patients, to generate a sense of responsibility over digital health. Once we achieve this, better platforms and regulations will emerge. We have brought together experts to create a solid program to address issues such as the new health ecosystem, as well as ethical concerns.
Q: How does GSK support doctors in choosing the best digital tools?
A: It is not just about joining a digital platform but also knowing which platform can best safeguard patient data, while being interactive or providing tools to monetize consultations. As a doctor, one of the most common concerns is how to charge for online consultations. Due to the pandemic, patients are more informed and, therefore, challenge doctors a lot more. Today, there is a great opportunity for health professionals to be fully informed. Moreover, as part of the course we provide, doctors learn how to influence their patients.
Although technology provides many opportunities for the health sector, GSK is aware that knowledge and experience come from doctors. Although some are more reluctant to adopt digital tools, the environment is slowly leading them to this change.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. It is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer