Digitalization can open new pathways to health care, strengthen patients, and also improve the accessibility of care. Taking advantage of these possibilities will be crucial to addressing citizens’ high expectations of health care and the growing needs of an aging population.
Sweden is facing a strategic choice for the future of health care, where digitalization plays a vital role. New technology enables citizens to better monitor their health, take preventive measures, and, if necessary, take more control of their health situation. Technology can thus enable more and better quality care, despite fewer physical care visits.
In this report, we present the state of knowledge about the effects of digitalization on health care, based on a review of the research literature. We discuss how these effects can be interpreted in a Swedish context, and conclude that quality improvements can be achieved in almost all areas. In elderly care, technology can lead to improvements in mobility, social contact, and increased independence. The accessibility of Swedish health care has improved since 2016, when private telemedicine firms began offering video-calls via smartphone apps. Health care is mainly tax-financed, and so are the telemedicine services. These developments have resulted in increasing economic tensions between various actors, mainly due to the complex and outdated public sector remunerations systems. The benefits of video calls should be markedly high in rural areas, but so far it is mostly residents of major cities who use telemedicine.