Two recent webinars tracking recent trends and outlooks on the future of digital health presented interesting perspectives on how the healthcare industry is evolving, but also trigger some concerns about such advancement. The first webinar, Digital Health Tech Vision 2016, hosted by Accenture Consulting, featured Kaveh Safavi, M.D, J.D. (Senior Global Managing Director of Accenture Health) and Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (Health Economist, Industry Advisor and blogger at Health Populi) addressing their prediction of the top five digital health trends in the coming year:
- Intelligent Automation – the merger of humans and artificial intelligence in a health setting (citing an intriguing example of a company integrating AI into a therapy setting).
- Liquid Workforce – technology enabling the application of healthcare across geographies.
- Platform Economy – an economy based on multiple technologies to platform architectures that allow them to work together.
- Digital Trust – the importance of ensuring patient information isn’t shared improperly by those who have legal access to it.
- Predictable Disruption – industry leaders agree that the nature of healthcare services will change faster in the next ten years than the last thirty
The second webinar was the MobiHealth News Digital Health 2016 Midyear Review, featuring Brian Dolan (Editor-in-Chief of MobiHealthNews) and Ryan Beckland (CEO and Co-Founder of Validic), who spoke about the past year in digital health, including key acquisitions, policy news, and the importance of patient generated health data in the future.
Both webinars addressed the fact that there is significant consumer demand for digital health innovation. Patients want a more seamless and efficient experience that gives them a better “life-health balance” and does so inexpensively. From the physician point of view, MobiHealthNews pointed out that doctors have about seven minutes on average to spend in person with a patient, most of which is spent doing data entry on a computer, so physicians are looking for solutions that enable them to be more “present during care” and not miss out on any important clinical information. As for healthcare systems, the Accenture webinar touched on the “Predictable Disruption” trend, noting a recent poll showing 86% of healthcare executives feeling pressured to “disrupt” their business model or face disruption from the outside (e.g. companies like Wal-Mart, Apple, Google, and financial service firms are entering the healthcare space).
This high demand for digital health solutions is certainly good news for any companies operating in the space, especially in light of regulations pushing the industry more towards value based care. But is it good news for patients?
With such multipronged pressure facing hospital systems, a concern might be that in trying to keep up with the industry, they too quickly install digital health solutions that aren’t adequately designed for interoperability with other technologies and EMRs and in doing so, could make the patient experience worse. The American Medical Association CEO recently commented on the influx of “ineffective” and “mixed quality” digital health products, going as far as comparing them to modern-day snake oil, and Dr. Sachin Jain, the CEO of CareMore, said that most remote monitoring solutions are not currently working because they aren’t adequately integrated into a system of care, and are just “bolted on” to a current system.
In such a fragmented market, it will be important for healthcare systems to take the time to make decisions based on how well these solutions can integrate with the current systems and EMRs (which aren’t patient-facing, but need to integrate with these new technologies for a seamless patient experience), work with other digital products within the system (achieving the platform economy mentioned by Accenture), and enhance the patient and physician experience and interaction. Perhaps then the industry can claim a new trend: intelligent disruption.