Digital health encompasses a wide range of applications, categories and solutions. It includes technologies like Telemedicine, mHealth apps, wearable tech and EHRs.
These tools can meld medicine with the internet of things, virtual reality and augmented reality. They can also help streamline clinical research and enhance patient engagement. However, there are challenges to broad implementation.
Using advanced telecommunications technology, healthcare professionals deliver virtual care via video. This type of remote treatment is commonly called telemedicine and is rapidly becoming a staple of modern healthcare systems and physician practices.
This digital treatment method is incredibly flexible and convenient, and it offers healthcare practitioners a chance to connect with patients in more ways than ever before. It also helps to reduce costs and improve patient engagement.
The basic form of telemedicine involves live video calls with doctors, and it can also include smartphone apps that allow patients to upload data (blood pressure readings, weight, medication logs) to their physicians. It’s also known as mHealth or mobile health, which encompasses many other applications and devices that make healthcare more accessible.
2. Patient portals
Patient portals enable patients to access and review their health information online. They also offer convenient tools like submitting electronic bills and communicating with their doctor through secure messaging.
Patients who are comfortable with technology and have smartphone access tend to use their patient portal more often. Nurses can encourage patients to use portals by explaining the benefits and demonstrating their ease of use.
Patient portals can also help doctors and clinics streamline their workflows. Receptionists and nurses can move non-urgent questions to the portal, which allows them to free up their time for more urgent matters. Patients can also easily schedule non-emergency appointments through portals. This reduces phone wait times and makes patients feel valued by the practice.
3. Electronic health records
A digital health system unifies information into a single patient chart and safely stores it. It can also send data to specialists and track the status of a patient’s treatment.
Using predictive analysis, software can detect inconsistencies between a patient’s medical history and their prescriptions, alerting both patients and doctors to potential medication errors. It can also help hospitals anticipate admission rates and improve staff scheduling.
The benefits of digital health are far-reaching. From improving access to healthcare in remote areas to lowering healthcare costs and enhancing patient engagement, digital technology brings countless benefits to the industry. However, there is a need for greater transparency regarding the risks of these technologies to ensure equitable access.
4. Remote patient monitoring
Digital tools like remote patient monitoring give physicians more insight into patients’ health conditions. These devices collect and transmit data, such as heart rate or blood glucose levels, over an Internet connection to medical professionals for real-time tracking.
RPM can include Bluetooth-enabled devices like cellular blood pressure cuffs, scales, and glucometers to stream data to a platform that clinicians can retrieve at any time. Those platforms often feature interface options that are user friendly for patients, making it easy for them to keep track of their own health data and communicate with healthcare providers about their condition. This results in a more efficient and effective healthcare experience for all parties involved.
5. Digital therapeutics
Digital therapeutics are software programs that can treat or manage a medical condition. They can also be used in conjunction with hardware medical devices to provide additional functionality.
For example, a program called Propeller is designed to manage chronic conditions such as COPD by tracking symptoms and encouraging patients to adhere to their treatment regimens. It has been shown to improve patient adherence by 58% and reduce healthcare visits related to respiratory issues and hospitalization by 35%.
Benefits leaders should consider integrating digital therapeutics into their wellness initiatives. Using this type of solution can improve employee health, lower healthcare-related costs for the organization and amp up DEI efforts.
6. Personalized medicine
The Digital Health industry encompasses a diverse collection of tools, platforms and connectivity software for healthcare-related usage. The scope ranges from applications that alleviate mental health issues or provide general wellness to those that actually operate as medical devices and support scientific research.
For instance, a digital technology that identifies patients with specific genetic markers enables the development of targeted drugs to help prevent or treat cancers, as well as other diseases that have no viable treatment options. This is known as personalized medicine. This personalized approach to treating diseases and other conditions promises to reshape the medical industry. The future of digital health is exciting and varied.
7. Patient engagement
Patient engagement focuses on encouraging patients to participate in their healthcare, helping them make better decisions and follow through with clinical resources. This is accomplished using technology that helps patients and their care teams communicate with each other.
Patient communication tools need to be easy to use and secure. They should be able to support HIPAA compliance, provide multi-modal messaging capabilities and deliver two-way, closed-loop communications for client care and patient engagement.
Medical practices also want patient engagement solutions that optimize and streamline the daily practice workflow, reducing the manual effort of scheduling, appointment reminders, communication, outreach and follow-up. These tools should connect with EHRs and patient portal systems for data transfer.
Digital health technologies unify and safely transfer data between systems, enabling patients and medical professionals to understand each other’s information. They help with diagnoses, patient self-monitoring, education and the provision of remote services.
Healthcare workers also benefit from the tools that these technologies provide them with, including interoperable mobile medical dictation and secure communication between clinical teams. These productivity-boosting tools enable them to save time and improve their workflow. They can also be used to enhance the quality of patient education, which in turn leads to better health outcomes. However, not everyone has access to the necessary technology. This can lead to inequalities in access and impact health outcomes.