5 Reasons to Enter the Digital Health Market Today
You have probably heard that healthcare costs are rising with the day, and there’s little that could stop that trend. Actually, there is one “thing” we could do — digitize the industry.
Digital health is the convergence of digital and genomic technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and make medicines more personalized and precise. The discipline involves the use of information and communication technologies to help address the health problems and challenges faced by patients, as well as the general public who wants to stay healthy.
Healthcare is one of the last major industries awaiting to be digitized, and now it is all set to take that “leap.”
There are multiple factors behind this trend, each of which could be a reason for you (all of us, really) to join this revolution. Here are 5 reasons I personally think are the most important:
1. Aging Population
Aging comes with its own set of problems, with seniors being among the most avid “users” of hospital beds. In case of an epidemic, there won’t be enough beds to hospitalize all patients that would require care. The nightmare scenario includes a big part of baby boomers — the biggest generation ever — ending up in hospitals.
So for one reason or another, technology could kick in to keep seniors as healthy and as away from hospitals as possible. They could be provided with a wearable or some other non-intrusive device which would monitor their health throughout the day.
Another factor to consider is that most people want to live retirement years in their own homes; services such as remote monitoring make this not only possible on a wide scale, but also cost-effective for payers.
2. Doctor Shortage
It is not just that the biggest generation ever is retiring, it is also that health systems all across the globe are facing doctor shortages.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will suffer a shortage of up to 104,900 doctors by 2030, and the situation is similar in other parts of the world, as well. These gaps can lead to delays in care for patients, or worse, prevent them from getting care at all.
Doctor shortages are spread out, so when there’s a lack of doctors in one area, a licensed physician from the other area could kick in to provide counseling and other services that are delivered via a video call on a computer or some mobile device.
Telehealth services could help to keep costs at bay while at the same time being able to provide consultations and even so called e-prescriptions to remote patients.
3. Technology is Ready
Today, there is enough bandwidth and storage to put all medical images in the cloud and make them accessible to doctors throughout the country. This is still not available in most places, but we are steadily approaching the moment when our health data, including medical images, will be easily available to all doctors that are treating us (when we provide them with access).
In the meantime, patients with serious problems keep carrying CDs and papers with them, which is an everything but efficient method of “dealing” with health data.
When it comes to security, it got much better — and more importantly — more seamless to implement. Today, most smartphones include a fingerprint reader that could be used for unlocking personal health records and making these available to physicians and/or family members.
Technology-wise, all the stars have aligned to enable the digitization of healthcare.
4. The Industry Is Booming
Digital health is already a “thing,” with established players enhancing their offerings to include mobile technologies and sensor data to the mix, while startups are raising record amounts of investment capital.
In 2016, venture capital (VC) firms contributed $4.2 billion to these companies, according to data from Rock Health, a full-service seed fund that supports digital health startups. What’s more, that figure is only expected to grow from there with mid-2017 data suggesting startups have managed to attract $3.5 billion from investors.
Speaking of investors, they are a different bunch that includes VC arms of big corporations like Google, GE and Qualcomm; dedicated VC firms such as Khosla Ventures and Venrock; as well as IT giants and major health systems.
Also for what it matters, this is not a U.S. thing only — many firms are investing all around the globe where digitization of healthcare is taking place, as well.
5. You’re Probably Already Using It
If you have a smartphone — and these days many of us have one — you are probably already using some kind of a digital health tool. Whether it’s for counting steps, taking notes of your lunches and dinners, or to keep up with your sleeping habits — you may have an app installed on your phone.
What’s more, if you have a wearable device like an activity tracker or a smartwatch, you are gathering a vast number of data — including in some cases your heart beats — that are stored in your health profile. On iPhone, there’s Apple’s HealthKit and on Android devices we have Google Fit and/or Samsung Health.
These platforms make sure all your activities count — including steps, calories, distance and more — to deliver a better image of your overall well-being.
How to Get Started in Digital Health?
Generally speaking, there are two ways how you can “enter” the digital health market, or learn more about it. You can go and research for yourself relying on Google and dedicated publications, or take a shortcut and learn from a site that is purposely built to bring more users to the “digital health revolution.”
DHbriefs is there to help. It stands for “Digital Health Briefs,” offering research briefs that cover specific digital health market niches. These briefs (will) provide industry intelligence, outlook of key players, their products and services, and more — making sure YOU get to save time and money, while potentially opening new opportunities for growth.
Whether you’re a medical or pharma professional, student or an engineer, someone looking to enhance or change his/her career — you don’t want to miss out on the digital health revolution.