Digital health is a hot topic in healthcare because of how it is slowly reshaping developed health systems all over the globe. In fact, the global digital health market was valued at $100 billion in 2016 and this figure is expected to double by 2020. In the United States, “Obamacare” or the Affordable Care Act has driven more digital health solutions to be introduced into the system to provide a more efficient yet cost-reducing healthcare practice.
From addiction treatment center in the SF Bay Area to hospitals in New York, more healthcare systems are adapting digital technology to help patients get back to their optimum health.
Digital technology is improving accuracy in healthcare delivery.
According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 251, 454 deaths every year. A survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago also revealed that 21% of patients have experienced medical error and they often had a huge impact on their physical and mental health, financial well-being and even relationships.
Digital technology is set to address this problem through electronic health records that help reduce medical errors, especially in administering medications. A study conducted by a pediatric hospital revealed that using a computerized tool has helped reduce the need for interventions due to incorrect drug doses by a staggering 59% and a computerized decision support system has resulted to more accurate prescription dosing.
Digital technology plays a key role in monitoring patients with long-term health conditions.
More people in America are now investing in wearable medical devices, as evidenced by global sales of $10.5 billion in 2017. And this market is expected to reach $55 billion in revenue by 2022. With the help of these devices, healthcare professionals can already monitor patients with long-term health conditions without the need to visit clinics or hospitals constantly, which could be such a hassle for them. Most wearable medical devices are now equipped with features like BP monitors, pulse oximeters and glucose monitors that provide doctors physiological data to help create better healthcare plans for patients.
Bluetooth technology is also helping healthcare professionals monitor patients remotely and offer real time adjustments to treatments and therapies depending on the data sent to them via implantable devices. This helps improve the quality of life of patients and lessens their need to visit doctors.
Digital technology is empowering patients.
Patients with chronic health conditions may sometimes feel powerless in their healthcare journey because of how traditional practices only allow healthcare professionals to make decisions for their patients. But with digital technology, more practitioners are already adapting patient-centered models where the patient is involved in managing his health with the help of digital tools. For instance, patients with diabetes can now use health apps that will allow them to not only monitor their glucose results and upload them to a central data, but also guide them through their daily routine. This includes alerts for insulin injections, proper meal times and the right exercises.
Digital technology also improves communication between a patient and his healthcare provider, which is critical in managing chronic conditions. Digital tools that help patients interact better with their medical team has led to better satisfaction and significant impacts on their health. For instance, a study revealed that digital tools that allowed patients and healthcare providers to communicate and exchange data has led to reduced HbA1c levels.
Digital technology is making healthcare more accessible.
Accessibility is one of the biggest challenges for healthcare providers around the world because there aren’t just enough medical practitioners to treat patients in remote areas. Digital technology bridges this gap by making healthcare more accessible in hard-to-reach areas so patients in need of treatment are given better chances at improving their health.
For instance, a telemedicine startup in Brazil has enabled clinics to upload MRI and EEG scans to their system, which is then analyzed by a machine for any abnormalities. A diagnosis is then proposed to a remote specialist who gives the recommendation. This method has made certain diagnostic procedures more accessible to patients in the Brazilian Amazon, and it only costs as low as $4.
In the end, digital technology is one of the best tools out there for healthcare practitioners to provide excellent service to patients, improving their quality of life and reducing their medical costs significantly.