Webinar: Digital Health Voices in Policy – The Spanish Fitness Check

July 14, 2022
Spanish Fitness Check

On July 12th, Allied for Startups DTx hosted a Webinar on Digital Health Voices in Policy. This event marked the launch of the Spanish Fitness Check, a deep-dive into the Spanish digital health ecosystem. Leading entrepreneurs came together to discuss the future of digital health innovation in Spain, sharing startup regulatory needs to foster better healthtech in Spain and Europe.

Moderated by Daniel Dalton, Former Member of the European Parliament and Senior Advisor at Allied for Startups, the Webinar welcomed Cristian Pascual, President of Barcelona Health Hub and Co-Founder of Mediktor, Carmen Pauline Rios Benton, Member of the Board of Directors Tech Barcelona and Co-Founder & COO of Doctomatic, and Alberto E. Porciani, President and CEO of Top Doctors in an interactive debate. 

Panelists shared their enthusiasm for the potential of telehealth solutions as the only way to face the growing demand and rising costs of healthcare. However, several key barriers would need to be overcome in order to ensure the sustainable adoption of digital health solutions in the Spanish and European healthcare ecosystem. Cristian explained: “Conflicting regulations and the lack of reimbursement in Spain and across Europe is the largest stopper for innovation. It’s not clear, and has hindered telemedicine from developing in Spain as it has in other countries.” Panelists referred to the German Digital Health Care Act and mHealthBelgium, as two systems, although not yet perfect, of digital health reimbursement that policy makers could use as benchmarks. Alberto noted that “In Spain, reimbursement of digital health is still emerging, but a lot of work must still be done. There will need to be a lot more coordination amongst stakeholders, both public and private.”

Carmen shared her enthusiasm to “see Europe develop unified regulatory frameworks, such as for reimbursement, that could easily be rolled out throughout the different Member States” but noted the “challenges Europe has from a geopolitical standpoint of leveraging on the diversity and the umbrella that the European Union represents.” Cristian pointed out that “We need frameworks at the European level so we can scale what works well. It doesn’t make sense that when you have an innovation that can solve the problem, you need to talk to 27 different health systems to make it happen.” 

As a key takeaway of the event, it is crucial to consider startup perspectives in policy and government. Shaping regulation with smaller actors in mind will not only improve the Spanish innovation ecosystem, but also drive Europe into a hub for digital health scale-ups. We encourage you to consider the findings of the Spanish Fitness Check, a HealthTech Charter initiative, which consists of a multi-stakeholder perspective on the Spanish telemedicine healthtech ecosystem. It aims to map out the Spanish telemedicine environment and reveal areas for improvement to best empower digital health innovators with the tools to succeed. We invite you to take a look here.