Artur Olesch, Founder and Editor-in-Chief and Hong Shen Lim, VP Operations & Product, EVYD Technology, offered workable solutions and fascinating insights into the digital trends shaping our future for The Next Big Health Story, the second in a series of webinars hosted by the Temasek Foundation WAN-IFRA Journalism Programme.

Fergus Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Fathm, and lead facilitator on the journalism programme, moderated the event that explored how technology and data are changing every aspect of the healthcare system, from delivery to diagnostics. 

Right upfront, digital editor, journalist and storyteller Artur Olesch clarified that our next big health crisis is, actually, ongoing. “We are already in a healthcare crisis; Covid-19 was of course the most visible crisis that we’ve experienced in recent years, but  we have a gap between the demand and the supply of services, we have an ageing society, a pandemic  of non-communicable diseases, shortages of healthcare professionals – and it is a big crisis. That’s why we need new tech and new tools.”

Olesch outlined the various trends in the healthcare market resulting from the accelerated tech innovation during Covid-19: “Progress within one or two years that was expected to take about 10 years.” This includes the deployment of telemedicine, home test kits, evidence-based symptom checkers, prescription apps trending in US, UK and Europe; virtual reality for pain treatment, patient-generated data from wearables like smart watches; home-based health monitoring thanks to clinical-based AI diagnosis and, surprisingly, the health threat presented by fake news.

The impact in the marketplace has, naturally, extended to academia. Digital health and e-medicine may be buzzwords now yet, according to Hong, academic institutions have varying definitions of the term in the curriculum programmes they offer: “Some gear it towards biomedical information automatics, and on the other spectrum, it’s geared towards AI computing, big data and statistics. But soon, digital health won’t be a separate discipline; it will be simply healthcare.”

Identifying the gaps in storytelling

How do journalists address this transformation, as it is in process? Get to grips with the fundamentals, advises Hong: “Medical teachings have largely remained the same even though the practice of healthcare has progressed quite significantly over the past few years. There are reasons why we stick to the roots of teachings of fundamentals and foundations, because without a strong foundation it’s difficult to synthesis information so you will never be able to keep up – and for journalism it’s about the same, you do need to be well-rounded, you do need to have a strong foundation and then your job is to synthesise and curate the influx of information and also provide your professional opinion.”

Olesch further outlined gaps in current reporting to help journalists, editors and newsrooms identify potential storylines by offering three actionable solutions.

1 Combine perspectives – correlate between technology sceptics and enthusiasts to identify the differences in their perspectives and possible potential problems or solutions

2 Start with patients – what technologies do they use; are these technologies helping them  in their daily life? How?

3 Learn from the past – healthcare’s transformation can be likened to the Industrial Revolution, when mass production intensified; by extrapolating lessons from the past, we may be less afraid of experimenting – or of making mistakes. 

Journalists keen on remaining current on healthcare trends can access a new volume of the newsroom guide, Journalism in the Age of Pandemics, produced as part of the Temasek Foundation WAN-IFRA Journalism Programme. Request a copy.

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