COVID-19 has led us to more reliance on digital health. While the circumstances that caused the shift were very unfortunate, the potential for digital health services is huge.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that all efforts in the area will become a success, but there will certainly be a reward for businesses that can pull off something great that benefits everyone.
With this in mind, Orthogonal took a comprehensive look at digital health acceleration post COVID-19.
Here are 7 key digital trends they identified that are experiencing the most growth.
This is only going to grow, especially with the population living longer than ever before.
Plus, many preventative treatments have been placed on the backburner due to the coronavirus. As such, diseases have had more time to cause damage.
Then there’s dental to think about. With people unable to get a checkup, they don’t know how serious their cavities are, or even if they have any in the first place.
On the other hand, the economy can’t continue spending money on healthcare services and sacrifice on other aspects of life.
The new economy will probably generate lower GDP to support the healthcare system. It will also mean fewer people can afford to shell out on healthcare-related expenses.
The increasing cost of healthcare remains a drag on employers and it’s unclear if all the newly unemployed will get any assistance.
According to Dr. Geraldine McGinty, via Orthogonal:
“It wouldn’t bother me so much that America spends 2–4x what other countries do on healthcare if we were actually 2–4x healthier as a result. But we’re not getting that kind of return on investment for the incredible amounts of money we spend on healthcare.”
With this in mind, if healthcare costs get too high but it fails to deliver, no one will feel motivated enough to spend on it. Even if there is an excellent cost-to-outcome ratio, it’s largely irrelevant if no one can afford it.
So, it’s important that spending focuses on finding solutions that provide value for money. Digital health can provide this exact service when done correctly.
CEOs of face-to-face clinics are tasked with filling their buildings with patients and staff every day.
While in-person appointments are still important, patients and healthcare providers want more convenient alternative options to facilitate the required care. Not only will this save on time but it also ensures the risk of infection is lower.
Healthcare services that provide the right balance between in-person care and remote care will be in the best position to succeed.
Looking outside the scope of healthcare for a second, sharing companies like Uber and Airbnb show that data and software is much more agile compared to being fixed in a single location.
As such, there could be some innovation in the future where Uber is used to provide at-home care, or even an acceleration in smartphone apps that providers can conduct remote services like patient monitoring and diagnosis.
Clinical trials allow professionals to study the interaction between medical solutions, the body, and the outside world. However, very rarely can a professional take a measurement in the best moments. Real-life doesn’t allow that to happen.
However, connected mobile medical devices (CMMD) and software as a medical device (SaMD) makes real world data (RWD) much easier to collect. As such, MedTech firms can create better, innovative products.
Businesses like Google and Facebook are able to understand their users, from their interested and purchasing habits to knowing who they hang out with and where they go day-to-day.
Such data can also be utilized by MedTech firms for R&D purposes to validate their new solutions.
There was a shortage of fully-trained physicians even before COVID-19. This trend has continued and may continue to accelerate. Further, the costs of education and specialization are getting larger, while job satisfaction is getting lower.
Of course, there’s the possibility that COVID-19 may inspire a new generation of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. But even so, this new batch of talent won’t be ready to help out for several years yet.
This means that the few physicians we do have must do more. Unless they can better leverage their time, this negative reinforcement cycle will only continue.
Digital solutions can fill this void. Robots and automation can provide the required leverage, certainly in terms of virtual solutions, but possibly also to meet physical requirements.
The biggest hurdle to deal with is resistance to change. Everyone from the patients to the regulators all must adapt to modern technology for change to occur.
CVODI-19 has seen rapid strides made to overcome the problem. As the current crisis continues, the harder it will be to revert back to older, more traditional ways of treatment.
Hospital and clinic appointments will still be very important, but telehealth and remote monitoring and therapy services will be a lot more convenient for everyone all around. The outcomes may even be better through this method.
For example, if a doctor is not well enough to attend their practice, instead of canceling all appointments that day, they can provide some level of care to certain patients from their home office and still get some rest to recover.
When all of these factors are combined – putting emphasis on real-world data, providing more convenient healthcare solutions, leveraging precious physician time correctly and once the pandemic eventually passes – there is certainly a lot of potential for the growth in digital health.
But even so, success will be determined by engagement. Once digital health is expected, the solutions must be as useful (and convenient!) as all of their other digital services.
If digital health forces users to act differently compared to the rest of their digital lifestyle, there is no way it will succeed. In truth, use will either be minimized or it will be ignored altogether.