The partnership of technology and healthcare industries is rapidly changing the face of healthcare delivery
Baker McKenzie, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, held a seminar "Healthtech Forum: Powering the Future of Healthcare" to discuss trends in health technology innovation and significant implications on key healthcare system stakeholders.
The rate of change and innovation in technology within and outside the traditional healthcare settings is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. The convergence of technology and healthcare in today's world is present in fields as diverse as pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, self-care, prevention and pre and post intervention care. This rapid transformation demands all stakeholders in the healthcare system, from patients and consumers to product providers and healthcare professionals, to look critically at both opportunities and challenges, as well as liabilities that come with it.
"Technological innovation certainly bring valuable opportunities for better and more efficient healthcare delivery and healthcare system as a whole", commented Peerapan Tungsuwan, Head of Healthcare Industry Group of Baker McKenzie. "These are developments that Thailand needs to ensure to keep pace with in order to address the current gaps in system and improve public accessibility to good standard healthcare, as well as to stay competitive in the global healthcare market", said Peerapan.
The current landscape of healthtech environment in Thailand is a mixed one. The private sector and private hospitals appear to be increasingly "electronically smart" and adopting new technologies. On the other hand, the public sector and government hospitals are still trying to cope with insufficient numbers of doctors.
Many technological advances in healthcare are data-driven. Dhiraphol Suwanprateep, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Partner of Baker McKenzie, explained: "Data is of extreme importance in the delivery of efficient healthcare. However, the ability of the health technology to collect, analyse and store large volume of data obviously raises concerns about data privacy and liability issues. This is particularly true where there is a risk of a patient's sensitive information to be disclosed."
Data usage ranges from small data such as those used in wearable technology for people to manage their health to big data used by hospitals and healthcare professionals to diagnose diseases and execute healthcare.
Telemedicine, a mode of healthcare delivery that allows patients to remotely connect with a clinician for diagnosis and treatment, has the obvious benefit of reducing geographical distance and increasing access to a broad range of services, as well as patients' engagement and convenience. It, however, raises several legal issues, such as data privacy and licensing.
On this issue, Peerapan Tungsuwan commented: "Challenges exist in the lack of related laws and regulations specifying the rights and duties of both doctors and patients in terms of telemedicine treatment and for cross-border in terms of different requirements of data protection and data privacy for transferring patient information to the telemedicine provider. Even more complicated are issues such as insurance and reimbursement which remain unclear for this kind of delivery."
Healthcare is one of the most complicated industries when it comes to possible legal implications and liabilities of relevant players. "Elevating the legal framework to keep pace with rapid technological transformation will not be an easy task. All elements about how the industry operates need to be well analysed so that liabilities reflect the roles and actions of any potential non-compliance that may occur," added Peerapan.