With the increasing penetration of the internet, rising usage of smartphones and other advanced devices, and growing digitization, digital health is quickly becoming an integral component of modern healthcare. In simpler terms, digital health means using technology for treating and managing diseases and improving an individual’s health and wellness. It covers everything from ingestible sensors, mobile health (mHealth) applications, and wearable gadgets to robotic caregivers, electronic health records (EHRs), and artificial intelligence.
While paper files, written prescriptions, and physical appointments with doctors used to be the norm in healthcare operations just a few years ago and still are in most of the world, the growing popularity of digital health is making mHealth, telemedicine, and EHRs the preferred disease management and patient care tools these days. Considered unimaginable just a decade ago, patients, nowadays, are increasingly using various digital networks for communicating with doctors and other healthcare professionals, to avail healthcare services.
Additionally, digital health is helping medical practitioners identify new diseases or the worsening of already existing ones. By allowing doctors to intervene earlier, digital health tools could reduce the severity of the disease or allow doctors to ease the symptoms before they really take hold. Besides this, digital health also allows a person to track their blood pressure, calorie intake, sleep cycle, and other health markers, which, in turn, helps them improve their health and fitness and reduce their visits to the physician.
Therefore, it won’t be an overstatement to say that digital health not only helps a person improve the quality of his/her life, but also significantly reduces their healthcare expenditure over his/her lifetime. Due to these numerous benefits, digital health solutions are increasingly being adopted by people all over the world. As a result, the valuation of the global digital health market is predicted to grow from $101.4 billion to $884.1 billion from 2019 to 2030. Furthermore, the market is predicted to advance at an explosive CAGR of 21.8% from 2020 to 2030.
A Brief Insight into Branches of Digital Health
- Telehealth: Telehealth provides healthcare solutions and patient care outside of clinics and hospitals via audio–video software, such as web chat programs. In recent times, telehealth has been found to be extremely effective in helping geriatric people or people with limited mobility avail of proper treatment and care. Furthermore, this digital health solution has the ability to reduce the burden on transportation systems, healthcare settings, and medical practitioners, especially those working in rural areas or places with limited medical facilities.
- Personalized Medicine: The development of advanced patient data storing and diagnosis methods have made it easy for healthcare professionals to provide personalized medicine to patients. Moreover, with the adoption of digital health solutions, the tracking of external factors such as lifestyle, home environment, and diet is becoming easy, which is, in turn, allowing clinicians to prescribe personalized therapies, instead of generic ones.
- mHealth: mHealth specifically focuses on the usage of mobile devices for collecting patient data and delivering it to healthcare practitioners. With the growing penetration of the internet and rising sales of smartphones, the adoption of mHealth is increasing rapidly, especially in developing nations. People in these countries are increasingly using mHealth for availing medical care.
- Wearable Technologies: Wearable technologies and devices have witnessed a sharp surge in popularity across the world over the last decade. These technologies have quickly become an integral component of real-time patient monitoring, as they allow both clinicians and patients to track calorie intake, physical activity, heart rate, and various other health markers. The tracking of these markers helps people maintain their health and fitness and allows doctors to diagnose diseases before they become serious.
Rising Usage of Smartphones Pushing Up Popularity of Digital Health
During the last few years, the number of smartphone and tablet users has increased significantly across the world. This has subsequently boosted the development of various mobile applications, including healthcare and fitness apps, which are increasingly being used by people for improving their health and wellness. As per a press release by the European Union (EU), smartphones were the most widely used devices in the world in 2019 for accessing the internet. Furthermore, the number of smartphone users in the world increased from nearly 2.5 billion to 3.2 billion from 2016 to 2019.
Rising Demand for Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions also Driving Digital Health Popularity
Due to the surging geriatric population, the rising incidence of chronic diseases, and lack of proper healthcare services and facilities in the remote areas of many developing countries, the requirement for remote patient monitoring solutions and services is rising rapidly. As per the 2019 World Population Ageing report, which was published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), geriatric people (people aged 65 years and above) numbered 703 million in 2019, and they will number 1.5 billion in 2050.
As geriatric people are highly vulnerable to various diseases on account of their low immunity levels and require extensive and long-term healthcare because of their long recovery times, their rising population would positively impact the demand for digital health solutions, such as mHealth apps and services, in the coming years. This would be because these solutions have the ability to provide healthcare services to geriatric people or people living in remote locations, who can’t access proper medical care.
Thus, it is quite clear from the above paragraphs that due to the soaring geriatric population, growing incidence of chronic diseases, rapid technological advancements, ballooning need for advanced healthcare solutions, and rising demand for remote patient monitoring services, the popularity of digital health would shoot up all over the world, especially North America and APAC, in the coming years.
Source: P&S Intelligence