Undoubtedly, COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic have made us reflect on the state of our healthcare systems, the benefits of technology and the challenges that the system must overcome to incorporate new technology with the appropriate safeguards.

Recently, I have had the pleasure of participating in a couple of forums in which this topic has been discussed. The first one was the forum organized by the Gaspar Casal Foundation, in which the book ‘Artificial Intelligence and Clinical Decisions: How it is changing the behaviour of the doctor’ was presented. This event involved very enriching debates over data quality, the protection of individual rights and other issues of importance.

The second one, with an international focus, was the report ‘Innovation, Sustainability and the Future of Healthcare’. The presentation of the report was conducted by IE University’s Centre for the Governance of Change, in collaboration with Dr. Mireia Crispin, director of the centre’s Future of Healthcare research programme and Borysiewicz Fellow at the University of Cambridge, and coordinated by Dr. Marcos Gallego, the overall coordinator of the programme. We were accompanied at the roundtable event by Dr. Vanessa Candeias, director of the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Healthcare programme, Dr. Filippo Pesapane, a radiologist from the European Institute of Oncology, and Dr. Max Parmentier, Founder and CEO of Birdie.

This project increases our understanding of innovation in digital technology and its impact in the field of health. It explores how the health systems of the future can make technological advances that are compatible with respect for ethics and the rights of professionals and patients.

The key challenges for the health systems over the last two decades have been demographic pressure, the chronic nature of many diseases, increasing patient participation in decision-making, access to innovation, and ensuring innovation enables sustainability.

New technologies are opening up new approaches and enabling solutions. Artificial intelligence, big data, digitalization and telemedicine are realities that allow us to glimpse future trends for health systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these trends, creating an innovation ecosystem involving all actors, including the pharmaceutical industry, where we have seen examples of how AI has helped accelerate the development of new solutions.

We also see how the application of algorithms to health data obtained by smart devices, such as drug injectors, has accelerated. This data can be shared with healthcare professionals to help make decisions on diagnosis or treatments, or to follow up on chronic diseases such as diabetes, improving disease control and optimizing the use of care resources. The benefits of digital technological innovation are clear to healthcare professionals, health systems, and patients as the ultimate recipients of healthcare systems.

On behalf of Lilly, I would like to invite you to join us on this journey to continue providing solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. Technology itself is not enough, technology has a transformative function when used in coordination with other innovations, including pharmaceutical innovation, which cannot be allowed to lag behind in the application of these advances.

I leave you the full report for further reflection.