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Future of digital health platforms: foresight event insights

2 Jul 2024

Future of digital health platforms: foresight event insights

On 11 June, PPMI, in collaboration with TNO and the European Commission, organised the event 'NextGen Online Platforms: Foresight Session on the Future of Digital Health Platforms’ in Brussels, Belgium. The event brought together policy makers, leading experts and practitioners to discuss the challenges and opportunities of digital health platforms in 2035.

Why is the future of digital health platforms important?

A digital health platform (DHP) is a business model that faciliates interaction between a large number of participants in the health (and other) ecosystems.

In contrast with other industries, the platformisation of health care is at its early stages. Data siloes and point-solutions still characterise the digital health market due to regulatory barriers, fragmentation of service delivery and health care provider resistance.  

However, DHPs have immense potential to transform health service delivery. Future platforms could leverage ecosystems to deliver better service integration, efficiency and person-centricity.

Opportunities of DHPs

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In fact, DHPs represent seven out of the top ten most valuable digital health companies and account for a large proportion of the investment in the sub-sector. Moreover, the digital health services market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 27% until 2027.  

Yet our previous participatory sessions indicate several uncertainties that surround the future of DHPs, including:

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Foresight session approach

During the session, participants were tasked with identifying the key risks and opportunities associated with DHPs in 2035. To do so, experts were invited to use ‘futures’, a narrative foresight tool describing possible worlds in 2035.

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The three DHP futures used during the session were: 

  • e-Health Vanguard: a future where public entities direct the market, providing a foundational EHR that acts as a central platform, while a competitive landscape of private sector solutions exists for other applications.  
  • Consolidated Healthscapea future where a few megaplatforms dominate the market and have centralised control of patient data.  
  • Efficiency Frontiersa future where the DHP market is characterised by intense competition between multiple platforms, with cost-effectiveness as a selling point for a population that increasingly views the government as ineffective.

Foresight session results

At the result of this session, participants outlined the following challenges associated with the future of DHPs: 

  • Disparities in access to health care exacerbated by differences in digital literacy and wealth 
  • Persistence of health data siloes in a fragmented DHP ecosystem and/or barriers to its secondary use impeding research, innovation and opportunities for improved public health management  
  • Concerns over data ownership and privacy 
  • Concentration of market power and vendor lock-in  
  • Lack of data interoperability  
  • Low EU competitiveness in the DHP market  
  • Low readiness and willingness to adopt DHPs by health care professionals 

However, participants also identified several opportunities, including: 

  • Increased and expanded access to health care 
  • Increased patient engagement with their health care and well-being journeys  
  • Potential to develop more value-based payment and, in turn, delivery models facilitated by DHPs 
  • Advancements in health research due to secondary use of large amounts of health data 
  • A move from ‘sick care’ towards health and wellbeing promotion supported by DHPs 
  • The potential for more integrated EU health market, facilitated by platforms that operate across borders / cross-border data exchange

Learn more about the study

The event was part of a study carried out by PPMI and TNO for the European Commission, which examines the development of online platforms and their impact on European society and economy. You can find out more about the study here.  

Throughout the study, the team is engaging a wide range of stakeholders in co-creation and co-assessment exercises to uncover different future scenarios and their implications. This event is part of a series of participatory sessions with different stakeholders, including policy makers, industry, academia and youth.  

The results of this foresight session will feed into a paper on the future of digital health platforms to be published later this year. It will be one of ten foresight papers developed during the study.  

If you would like to join our mailing list or get in touch with the study team, you can always contact them at