Health and Healthcare Systems

How data-driven digital healthcare tools cut costs and boost outcomes

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The focus of value-based healthcare is on putting the individual at the centre of health and care. Image: UNSPLASH


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Health and Healthcare Systems

  • Each year, $1.8 trillion is spent on global health that make minimal or no contributions to positive health results.
  • Value-based healthcare heavily relies on data and analytics to measure patient outcomes and cost drivers and the necessary digital, data and artificial intelligence (AI) transformation in healthcare is accelerating.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Health and Healthcare is launching the Digital Healthcare Transformation Initiative which aims to elevate data-driven healthcare systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness in caring for people living with illness.

A prescription for transforming global healthcare.

Unlocking the potential of data-driven digital tools could revolutionize healthcare systems on a global scale and deliver a new era of value-driven healthcare.

By 2020, the global healthcare sector had generated 2.3 zettabytes of data, equivalent to over 2 trillion DVDs. Projections indicate that over the next seven years, health data generation will outpace all other fields, with 30% of the world's data stemming from the healthcare industry. A notable manifestation of this surge is the anticipated use of 40 million health and fitness wearables, contributing to 75% of all clinical data by 2024.

This underutilized data offers the promise of improving patient outcomes and optimizing healthcare budgets. In fact, 97% of the data produced by hospitals worldwide remains underutilized. Despite being armed with a wealth of information on enhancing patient care and streamlining procedures, healthcare systems largely overlook this opportunity. Underscoring this point, current statistics reveal that 77% of health systems lack a coherent integrated analytics strategy.

Effective data processing holds the key to not just improving health outcomes but also scaling down local, regional, and global healthcare costs sustainably.

The potential applications of harnessing patient-centred data are far-reaching:

  • Preventing chronic diseases: Utilizing patient-level data and analytics to proactively address chronic diseases such as diabetes and metabolic disorders.
  • Early diagnosis: Employing data modelling and artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostics, genetics and image recognition to identify life-threatening diseases in their nascent stages.
  • Remote chronic condition management: Leveraging connected devices and real-time interventions to manage chronic conditions beyond traditional healthcare settings.
  • Promoting health equity: Facilitating global access to healthcare, thereby accelerating the journey towards health equity on a global scale.

Finding ways to channel this vast health care data into patient benefits offers the promise of superior and more efficient treatments and the liberation of scarce resources within already burdened health systems. The prescription for transforming global healthcare lies in our ability to embrace and optimize the wealth of information at our disposal, paving the way for a healthier and more sustainable future.


What's the challenge with global health spending?

Global spending on health has more than doubled in real terms over the past two decades. According to the World Health Organization, countries spent $9 trillion on healthcare in 2020 – 11% of the global gross domestic product, while a significant portion of expenditure on healthcare is wasteful due to systemic inefficiency.

This spending is unequally distributed and developing countries remain underserved. Approximately 4.5 billion people currently lack coverage for essential healthcare while at the same time, forecasts show a shortage of 10 million health workers by 2030.

With national budgets stretched and aid funding unlikely to increase, inefficient healthcare delivery hinders the expansion of access to healthcare and slows progress toward universal health coverage, a key UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).


Most developed economies are also nearing the limit of what they can afford to spend on healthcare. There is growing concern about the sustainability of healthcare systems worldwide as costs increase exponentially and put severe pressure on health budgets. Eliminating inefficiencies in healthcare delivery would save about one-fifth of health spending in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and some $1 trillion in the United States alone every year.

Value-driven healthcare transformation through digital health.

Since 2016, the Forum has been working with partners to accelerate the transformation of healthcare systems worldwide, reaching over 100 clinics and hospitals. This work has included the development of the first-ever global healthcare systems transformation framework, bringing private and public sectors together to enhance patient outcomes through the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare.

The coalition has spotlighted many evidence-based organizations focused on outcomes across populations and therapeutic areas. Additionally, the Forum has launched multiple reports on healthcare system transformation, engaging over 250 leaders in the process.

Have you read?

Building on this commitment, the Forum is now working to support the transformation of healthcare through digital health with a value-driven approach. The goal of the Digital Healthcare Transformation initiative is to equip healthcare systems to better leverage data-driven tools to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. This involves collaboration with over 50 top leaders from the public sector, the IT industry and investors.

To unlock the potential of digital data and AI, healthcare stakeholders including patients, investors, regulators and big tech companies will work together on five overarching areas:

  • Data: Unlock the value and flow of data, which enables digital applications to create impact.
  • Funding and incentives: Align incentives among stakeholders and ensure funding so digital can scale.
  • Tech and analytics: Build a strong tech and analytics foundation that can extract value from data.
  • Hybrid healthcare delivery: Strengthen digital capabilities and user design to facilitate implementation.
  • Regulations and policies: Develop fit-for-purpose digital regulations and policies.

Efforts to create value from data and achieve the SDGs are underway globally by promoting digital public goods and digital public infrastructure. These enablers of digital transformation provide the foundational elements crucial for the success of digital health applications.

The Forum is uniting value-driven experts to catalyze cooperation for advancing the data-driven transformation in healthcare.

Image: World Economic Forum

How to get involved?

The Digital Healthcare Transformation initiative is managed within the Forum’s Centre for Health and Healthcare which is committed to pioneering strategies that enhance global healthcare, ensuring the well-being of people across societies and nations.

If your organisation is working on solutions to unlock the potential of digital data and AI within healthcare please contact us.

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