The Promise of Digital Health: Then, Now, and the Future

From the increased development of personalized therapeutics to the growing adoption of telemedicine, digital innovation has been applied to nearly every aspect of patient care and human health. 

In a special publication with the National Academy of Medicine, Propeller Health and ResMed’s VP of Population Health Research, Meredith Barrett – alongside several luminaries in healthcare such as leaders from UCSF, Blue Shield of California, The Scripps Research Institute, and more – provides a comprehensive review of digital health solutions and identifies critical implementation opportunities including: 

Improving Medical Care

Whether a patient is in the clinic or at home, clinicians require more efficient pathways for diagnosing and treating conditions, ensuring care continuity and partnering with their patients to support disease self-management. Digital health tools have the potential to address these needs by streamlining clinical workflows and improving patient engagement to optimize care, whether remotely or in-person, and may even reduce error and waste in the delivery system.

Advancing Precision Health

To ensure effective patient care and develop the most impactful treatment plans, we must understand the health implications of an individual’s genetics, environment and health history. By using digital health solutions to collect this data, healthcare organizations can target individual medical interventions more precisely and more proactively. Done right, this concept can identify entire populations at greater risk from certain characteristics or exposures, and implement protective interventions at scale.

Promoting Patient Behavior Change

Improving patient health outcomes begins with driving sustainable, healthy behavior change. Evidence-based digital health tools that focus on behavior can improve self-awareness, provide on-demand health information and education, and support improved self-management through social support networks, health coaches and providers. The data generated from these tools can be used to identify behavioral risk factors that contribute to chronic disease, leading to real-time, personalized feedback that supports behavior change in ways that are more compelling than traditional patient education.

Achieving Improved Population Health

When thoughtfully designed and equitably deployed, digital health tools can be effective in improving the identification and mitigation of the underlying causes of illness, health and well-being. Aggregating digital health insights at a community level can enable the healthcare industry and government leaders to accurately measure the health behaviors and activities of patient populations, supporting resource allocation and data-driven public health decision making at the local level.

So, what are the healthcare industry’s next steps for executing these goals? In order to realize the full potential of digital health, every stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem must cooperate to develop shared governance, taking into account healthcare infrastructure, data stewardship and collaboration needs. Most urgently, we must ensure equitable access to digital health resources through appropriate reimbursement and coverage paths. If we can deliver on these promises, we can keep provider, payer, pharma and policy-maker motivations aligned and change healthcare for the better.

Read the full discussion paper from the National Academy of Medicine.

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