The Rise of Digital Health

The digital health market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.88% from 2019-2025, according to Infinium Global Research. The digital health space includes telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), wearable devices, and personalized medicine.

These technologies are designed to help individuals make better-informed decisions about their own health and provide new alternatives in disease prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and management of chronic conditions outside of traditional care settings including the use of home health care.

The goal is to increase quality of care, improve access to care and outcomes, and reduce inefficiencies and costs while delivering more personalized health care to patients. 

Let’s take a look at some of the digital technologies being used in health care today:

Telemedicine/Telehealth

Fueled by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown along with a shift in reimbursement and payment rules, the use of telemedicine has surged since February 2020. Telemedicine delivers health care services remotely, enabling doctors and health care providers to consult with patients via audio or video-conferencing tools. Health care providers use telemedicine to provide care remotely, and often more efficiently. Additionally, telemedicine coupled with software that allows for integration with electronic medical records, artificial intelligence (AI), and medical streaming devices, can assist providers in diagnosis and treatment. Providers can also monitor patients in real-time and adjust treatment plans if necessary, ultimately leading to better patient results, particularly for those unable to make in-person doctor or hospital visits. 

Mobile Health (mHealth)

mHealth is defined as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient-monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.” As a result of the growing use of smartphones and the emergence of advanced technologies in the healthcare sector, mHealth apps are fast becoming the patient-preferred way for many to access providers, log-in to patient portals, track steps and glucose readings, launch a telehealth visit, and manage medications and conditions for example. Mobile health technology provides patients faster access to providers and care; improves medication adherence, particularly for home health care patients; makes remote patient monitoring possible (again, favorable in a home care environment); increases medication reconciliation accuracy, which is critical for patients who have difficulty in recalling their medication list to provide to physicians and other health care workers; and improves provider communication and coordination. 

As of 2017, there are approximately 325,000 mHealth apps and more than 80,000 mHealth app publishers, while the industry is witnessing an annual download of more than 3.7 billion, cites business research consulting company Reports and Data (reference needed here?) The coronavirus has also triggered a surge in new virus-monitoring technology with manufacturers developing new apps they deem will have a demand to track and fight outbreaks, diagnose the virus, etc. 

Health IT

Health information technology, according to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), involves the exchange of health information in an electronic environment. The objective of Health IT in health care is to improve the quality of health care, prevent medical errors, reduce health care costs, increase administrative efficiencies, decrease paperwork, and expand access to affordable health care.  All health care firms, including home care and in-home hospice providers, need to be cognizant of patient privacy and HIPAA compliance in this regard.

Wearable Devices

The wearable device market is poised to grow by $3.44 billion between 2020-2024. Devices enable monitoring of human physical activities and behaviors, as well as physiological and biochemical parameters during daily life. The most commonly measured data includes vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, as well as blood oxygen saturation, posture, and physical activities through the use of electrocardiogram (ECG) and other devices. Some wearable technology applications are designed for the prevention of diseases and health maintenance including for weight control. Wearable devices are also used for patient management and disease management. Devices can be attached to shoes, eyeglasses, earrings, clothing, gloves and watches.

Personalized Medicine

Physicians use diagnostic tests to determine which medical treatments will work best for each patient. By combining the data from those tests with an individual’s medical history, circumstances and values, health care providers can provide better diagnoses, earlier interventions, more efficient drug therapies and customized treatment plans. 

Along with the benefits that health tech advances provide, such tech also brings additional exposures for health care providers including professional liability, privacy (HIPAA), telemedicine and cyber risks. It’s important for providers to have best practices in place and ensure compliance as well as secure the right insurance coverage to address these exposures.

Manchester Specialty Programs provides agents and brokers with the ability to offer a totally integrated business insurance solution around the specific needs of Home Care, Allied Health and Human/Social Services organizations fundamental to communities.  Our partner insurance carriers and agents/brokers offer coverage tailored to the needs of the current and emerging care delivery environment.  For more information about our products, please contact us at 855.972.9399.

Sources: Infinium Global Research, FDA, CB Insights, Tech Target, Mayo