What is digital health technology?
Digital health technology brings the advances and innovations of digital technologies into the realm of medicine.
Digital health technology leverages connectivity, computing platforms, software, and sensors to make healthcare more efficient, effective, and personalized. Examples include medical products, companion diagnostics, and adjuncts to other medical products like drugs and biologics. These technologies are also used to develop and study medical products.
Broadly speaking, the major categories within digital health are mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine. All of these are transforming the healthcare industry and providing new services, treatments, and opportunities to improve our health.
As of 2022, digital health and wellness is still a nascent field. The potential of these technologies to improve public health is still largely unrealized, presenting an incredible opportunity to apply these solutions and impact well-being on a global scale.
The benefits of digital health and wellness
Digital technologies have revolutionized the healthcare industry, providing new and innovative ways to diagnose and treat patients.
From telemedicine to patient monitoring, digital technologies provide healthcare providers with access to real-time data, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and treatments. Remote patient monitoring systems allow healthcare providers to track a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, in real-time. This data can be used to identify potential health issues before they become serious, allowing for earlier intervention and better patient outcomes.
In addition, digital technologies have the potential to:
- Reduce healthcare costs.
- Improve patient satisfaction.
- Customize treatment to the individual’s unique biochemistry.
- Make healthcare more accessible, especially for rural populations or people with mobility challenges.
The use of digital technologies in healthcare
The use of digital technologies in healthcare is increasing rapidly. Some of the most popular use cases include:
- Optimized Diagnosis: Hospital radiology departments are using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve diagnosis speed and accuracy. One report found that an AI algorithm diagnosed with 92% accuracy (as compared to the average physician’s rate of 77.5%).
- Enhanced Monitoring: Smart devices give providers access to real-time data, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and treatments. For example, “smart” inhalers monitor asthma patients’ medication usage and can submit a refill request to the pharmacy when it is time to refill.
- Remote Engagement: Telemedicine allows doctors and other healthcare providers to communicate with patients and train colleagues remotely, providing an efficient and cost-effective way to educate and deliver care.
- Connected Data: Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming increasingly popular, providing secure and easy access to patient information as well as a comprehensive view of the patient’s health history.
- Ongoing Feedback: Outcomes data is being pooled to extract real-world insights on how interventions add value and improve success rates.
- Tech-Enabled Delivery: Medical drone delivery services give providers access to remote areas and crisis zones to help people in need.
- Improved Efficiency: Researchers are exploring blockchain technologies as a means to increase efficiencies across global supply chains, expedite medicine manufacturing, and deliver medicinal products to patients faster.
- Breakthrough Research: Clinical trial data can be shared faster and more efficiently, at a global scale, to facilitate the rapid development of new medicines.
Many other promising technologies are still under development. For example, researchers are examining:
- How blockchain could enhance medical information security.
- How remote monitoring can enhance patients’ experience and make services more efficient.
- How patients can better control and protect their health data.
Challenges of Digital Health Technology
The use of digital technologies in healthcare is not without its challenges. Security is a major concern, as healthcare providers must ensure that patient data is kept secure.
Additionally, the cost of acquiring and implementing digital technologies can be prohibitive for many healthcare providers.
Despite these challenges, the use of digital technologies in healthcare is here to stay. With the right strategies and investments, healthcare providers can leverage the power of digital technologies to provide better care for their patients.
By utilizing digital technologies, healthcare providers can reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and provide better access to care.