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Digital Doctor Increasingly On the Rise

Usage of UpToDate continues to grow in the Netherlands

​This article originally appeared in  De Telegraaf in Dutch.​

At a time when health care costs are exploding, the digital doctor is on the rise. In the Netherlands, now almost all hospitals (a total of 89) subscribe to UpToDate, an online platform from Wolters Kluwer where doctors can globally exchange and consult medical information. Increasingly, the application is being used during surgery, treatment or consultation. 
 
In the current year, the number of users on the platform UpToDate has grown globally from 700,000 to more than 850,000 worldwide. For every one in three treatments, the medical decision by the "digital doctor", which should improve the quality of healthcare, is affected. That equates to approximately 80 million decisions a year.

It should help make the level of healthcare and the healthcare system globally more efficient, and thus also help to cope with the ever rising costs. "Today, we are seeing that doctors are using the system more and more on their smartphone or tablet," said Dr. Denise Basow, managing director of the business, which is part of Wolters Kluwer. "That's the next step to continue to grow." In Spain, Saudi Arabia and Norway, we have made agreements with the governments so that medical professionals have access to the system across the country.

In the Netherlands, also nine psychological institutes, three nursing schools and five rehabilitation centers use UpToDate. "There are 5,500 experts worldwide that are contributing content to UpToDate and testing its usability, so that users are able to quickly - within three minutes - get answers to their questions," said Basow. In the Netherlands, the platform receives approximately 40 thousand searches per week. Basow herself also has a medical background. "With many treatments there is some room for doubt, this is when the ‘digital doctor’ is extremely effective”.

Wolters Kluwer acquired UpToDate, which was founded in 1992, in 2008. The business unit is the flagship part of Wolters Kluwer's Clinical Solutions, which in 2013 had organic growth of 10% and grew to approximately 325 million EUR in revenues.

In 2011, research conducted at the University of Harvard concluded that usage of the platform leads to a shorter length of hospital stays and even lower mortality rates.