What does Digital Health Mean for the Future of Healthcare?

Blog / What does Digital Health Mean for the Future of Healthcare?

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    Nils Widal
    Nils WidalNovember 29, 2021

    Digital Health and Cloud Platforms Advocate and Entrepreneur.

    Digital health technologies have already made a large impact on our healthcare systems. Electronic healthcare records (EHRs) have tried to manage the hoards of healthcare data from around the world. EHR’s have presented challenges, but have made patient data a little more manageable. 

    The introduction of wearable devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit has provided more health data than ever before. We are able to get a clear picture of our health and can provide this to third parties when necessary. On our journey to improved public health management, wearables have demonstrated that the public care about their health.

    Separate from the wearable technology trends, digitalization of health records and patient databases has been an ongoing project for at least the last decade and a half. 

    However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend and the need to introduce digital health technologies. The healthcare sector needs to keep up with a changing world, and our digital dependency. 

    Telehealth/Online and Virtual Care

    Telehealth is the term for virtual platforms used to connect patients and their physicians. Due to COVID, these platforms have been adopted quickly and en masse.

    Physicians can use video calling facilities to contact patients and discuss their care. Online consultation forms can cut down visiting times. Patients can be sent treatment quickly, as a result. Simple diagnoses can be completed much quicker, as a visit with a physician isn’t always necessary. Therefore, doctors can see more patients within a day.

    Digital Health

    Patients can also have medication shipped to their home, rather than going to a pharmacy. 

    This is much more time-efficient, and cuts down on staffing costs such as overtime. Healthcare systems across the world are stretched, so saving time is paramount. 

    The uptake of virtual care platforms also cuts down costs for the consumers. Patients could see reduced costs for consultations, and treatment, as the healthcare system is saving money. Saving time and money will be key to healthcare in the future. 

    Patient Self-Management

    Patients are beginning to manage long term health conditions autonomously. Apps and software have provided the facility to monitor and control symptoms, and receive treatment. 

    These apps promote the prevention of overtreatment, which benefits physicians and patients. Patients have more control over their health and can identify any new issues or relapses. This means that patients can visit a clinician when they need to, rather than regular check-ins. Fewer visits mean less expense. 

    For physicians, self-management apps can take the pressure off their facility. Regular checkup visits take up a vast amount of time. As a result, this time can be spent attending to more urgent care. Resources will need to be managed in the future, and self-management apps can facilitate that change.

    Virus and Disease Control

    The recent pandemic has identified a weakness in the healthcare system. With access to so much healthcare data, it has the ability to identify trends across the world. 

    Governments struggled to keep a lid on COVID-19, and this identified a larger issue. There was a lack of preparation for a worldwide pandemic. Digital health data could help prevent a similar pandemic in the future. 

    Healthcare systems, like the NHS in the UK, rolled out COVID-19 apps. These allowed the public to track their symptoms, and register cases. COVID figures were kept up to date, allowing the government to react appropriately. The public could seek advice for treatment, and follow the necessary laws. 

    Apps like this could be used to manage future virus or disease outbreaks. They could display current figures, hotspots, and advise the public before the virus grows. The majority of the population already have a smartphone, and could be prepared for future outbreaks ahead of time.

    Healthcare Data

    Healthcare data is no longer submitted by physicians exclusively. Electronic healthcare records attempted to collate the public health data. However, there were significant holes in this method. Systems were not interoperable, and large parts of data could be missing or inaccessible. 

    Wearables like FitBits or Apple Watches can begin to fill those gaps. They offer the ability to completely monitor public health. Wearables have been taken up by millions. They can take ECGs, blood oxygen levels, continuously monitor heart rate and more.

    It is possible to monitor the nutrition and exercise levels of groups of people.

    This is all data that would normally need to be taken and submitted by a physician. Integration of wearables with third-party apps allows this vital information to be shared. We can get a fuller picture of the health of a nation but also speed up the treatment of an individual. 

    This can take the strain for physicians, who are overworked and struggle to access the right information from EHRs. Simple vital checks can be completed using wearable technology, and diagnoses could be much quicker. This is vital for the health of the individual, and the public.

    Medical Science

    In order to evolve the healthcare system, research must be conducted. We need to understand new diseases as they arise, and develop treatments for them as quickly as possible.

    At present, drug research and tests are a lengthy process. Researchers carry out chemical tests manually. Once a treatment has been discovered, it must then be tested in rigorous experiments. Trials are conducted multiple times before reaching the human testing stages. The time between drug discovery and go-to-market is a major challenge. 

    The development of digital health technologies has provided new methods of drug research. AI has the ability to conduct research en masse. They can absorb and assess large amounts of information much more quickly than an individual researcher. 

    There has also been research into In-Vitro drug testing. This allows pharmaceuticals to be tested thoroughly, without the need for human trials. Human trials can be time-consuming, and it is challenging to gather willing participants. In-Vitro testing could be the drug trial of the future. 

    Digital Health

    The Future

    Digital health developments will continue to grow in the future. It is clear that many of our current healthcare systems are outdated, and need modernization. 

    Digital health apps, wearables and advanced developments like AI are likely to be involved in the future of healthcare. Technology is becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, and the same rings true for healthcare. 

    Technological developments can provide more individual control over our health, and facilitate overall public health improvements. 

    Vertrical can be your partner for the development of your digital health solution. We have a background in compliance, to help you to meet the necessary regulations. Get in touch with us today!



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