While digital health is a simple concept — using technology to help improve individuals’ health and wellness — it’s a broad and growing sector. It can cover everything from wearable gadgets to ingestible sensors, from mobile health apps to artificial intelligence, from robotic carers to electronic records. Really it’s about applying digital transformation, through disruptive technologies and cultural change, to the healthcare sector.
The industry’s aims are diverse and complicated: preventing disease, helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions, lowering the cost of healthcare provision, and making medicine more tailored to individual needs. What makes the healthcare industry interesting is that those aims could potentially stand to benefit both patients, as well as their healthcare providers. By gathering more data on markers of health, from activity level to blood pressure, it’s hoped that digital health will allow individuals to improve their lifestyles and maintain good health for longer, and so need fewer visits to their physician.
Digital health tools could also help identify new illnesses or the worsening of existing ones. By enabling doctors to step in earlier during the course of a disease, digital health tools could help shorten the length of a disease, or help ease symptoms before they really take hold. Not only could digital health help improve quality of life, it could also reduce the total cost of a person’s healthcare over their lifetime, trimming bills for providers and patients alike.