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Lack of digital skills should not be allowed to impact access to healthcare


by Louise Wahlström

There is regular public discussion on digital skills and their lack in connection with healthcare services. At its best, the diversification of healthcare channels and ways of treating patients makes everyday life more flexible.

Additionally, the workload of healthcare services run by small resources will become more manageable when the majority of patients can be cared for over the phone or via chat.

However, digitilization can also leave those in the most vulnerable positions without services that are mandated by law. Often, the problem tends to be traced back to the ways elderly citizens use healthcare. There are usually attempts to cajole them into using digital channels by highlighting how user-friendly they are.

It’s very common to think that a lack of digital skills only concerns enderly citizens, but that is not the case. Other reasons can be, for example, a difficult life situation or difficulties in understanding digital channels.

The need for digital channels and their popularity cannot be contested. For instance in Finland, using public services via digital platforms grew by 54% in May 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, avoiding unnecessary physical contacts is a plus.

I myself am worried about how people who feel that they don’t have digital skills will be taken into account in the future. The pressure to decrease costs in healthcare is intense and guiding customers to digital channels will continue to be an important part of cutting costs.

Despite this, every public healthcare organization must make sure that they can also be contacted via traditional means, like calling. The only way to a doctor or a nurse can’t be behind digital gates.

Tapani Kyrki

Aurora Innovation Group CEO

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