Digital Health Care—The Coming Wave
A seismic shift is currently underway in the healthcare industry: healthcare providers of all types and sizes are being asked to turn to preventative, value-based care to keep costs down—and to keep patients healthy. In recent years, several major trends have converged to create the conditions for this to happen.
1) Patients are paying a growing portion of their healthcare out-of-pocket, and the costs of healthcare continue to rise.
2) Doctors face greater economic pressure than ever, due to cut-backs in insurance reimbursement, less support from government-funded programs (e.g., Medicare), increased costs for malpractice insurance, and the rising price of medical labor and materials.
3) Consumers have grown accustomed to using online or web-enabled solutions for banking, shopping, entertainment, and other daily essentials.
With consumers claiming control of their healthcare, they expect products to not only be digital and mobile-ready, but also to provide essential data that can be tracked and managed. Consumers are turning to digital self-care tools that cost less and can be administered at home or work, at their convenience. And they’re focusing on daily, lifestyle-based preventative healthcare, rather than dealing with more painful, dangerous and expensive interventions once sick.
Accompanying this shift in behavior is a fundamental change in attitude about a person’s right to retain healthcare choice, accessibility, ease of use, and control over cost.
New digital healthcare products are rushing to fill consumer demand, including EHR solutions from AthenaHealth, wearables by FitBit, mobile apps such as ZocDoc, and digital health training platforms like BreatheAware. These companies are fundamentally reshaping the industry by enabling people to own and control access to their health data, and by eliminating the information asymmetry that has long benefited the healthcare system but hurt the consumer.
Meanwhile, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, and medical professionals are finding themselves forced to adapt to this new wave of digital disruption, or face losing patients and falling behind their competitors.
Riding the Wave: The Great Opportunity for Medical Providers
The good news for providers is that the coming wave of digital technology and patient-centered care is actually creating tremendous opportunities for those who embrace these developments.
In the new healthcare model, doctors who provide choice and control to their patients will be rewarded in the marketplace. For instance, by meeting patients where they already are—in the digital space—physicians will empower their patients to take proactive and direct control of their health, which will drive better patient engagement over a longer-term. At the same time, providers can generate ancillary revenue for their practices by adopting digital technology that serves their patients.
Digital healthcare is fundamentally reshaping the medical industry, and starting to transform the practices of mental and physical health professionals. It’s now easier than ever for an individual to use technology to maintain basic day-to-day health. This leads to a more efficient and cost-effective system, rather quickly, as long as patients stay engaged and well. And the best part—healthcare can now empower the patient.