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December 30, 2016

Digital Healthcare prospects are looking good for 2017

2016 was an interesting year for the healthcare industry. 2017 holds more innovations and exciting news. Much of the news next year will come from wearables, remote monitoring, telemedicine, and a revolution in EHR — Electronic Health Records.

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With wearables everything from blood sugar levels, to blood pressure, to medication, to weight and levels of activity can be monitored. From small devices to patches, healthcare providers can receive a steady stream of data that can be used to evaluate a patient. Recent research reports that the medical device industry market totalled about $5.1 billion in 2015 but will probably triple by 2020. Remote device monitoring decreases office visits and hospitalizations, and potentially harmful conditions are caught earlier. All this reduces costs.

Digital monitoring

Medical devices will also be used in the monitoring of patients involved in clinical trials for new drugs and other therapies. When pharmaceutical companies run trials, they now have the ability to monitor study participants on a 24-hour basis. If devices can be used to send electronic data around the clock, these trials will be far more conclusive far sooner.

Validic, a digital device enterprise, conducted a survey of researchers and clinical trial managers, regarding the use of monitoring devices for clinical trials. The survey participants included 166 industry researchers and tech professionals in the biopharma and life science industry. Results show that the use of devices for clinical trial data collection is clearly on the rise:  

60 percent of respondents have used digital devices in clinical trials already, 97 percent stated that their use of digital devices will increase through the next five years and mobile apps and in-home monitoring devices are the most common collection methods. Using patient-generated data which is streamed directly to the clinical trial managers means that information is accurate and in real-time, as opposed to relying on periodic visits and patient memories.

Lower costs

The cost of healthcare in America is one of the biggest economic issues. New technology could lower costs through better monitoring, including devices and occasional home visits and patients can avoid hospitalization, physicians can use real-time data to alter medications and/or mediation amounts remotely, saving time and money for doctor’s visits.

A study recently conducted by CVS Health Research Institute included 1.2 million patients with high cholesterol or blood pressure and/or diabetes. These chronic illnesses put a lot of financial pressure on healthcare. The study found that, by deploying remote monitoring devices and using the data be more proactive in treatment, the savings could run as high as $63 million per 100,000 patients.

The awareness with consumers rises, they are becoming much more aware of prevention, responsibility for their own health and health records, and the need to monitor their own health more. They are making use of digital technology in much larger numbers than before. Rock Health, a venture that invests in health-related start-ups released its annual survey recently, regarding consumer trends in healthcare. This one surveyed 4,000 individuals from all age, gender, and geographic demographics.

They found that 56 percent of the respondents are using at least three forms of digital health. They use wearables to monitor physical activity or sleep, devices prescribed by healthcare providers, or telemedicine, to include such online activities as consulting with physicians. In 2015 this number was only 19 percent were placed in this category in 2015. The increase in that number is huge. 10 percent are considered to be avid users of digital health options wearables, telemedicine, using electronic access to their medical records, etc. this represents a 2 percent increase over 2015.

Millenials dominate

Only 20 percent reported no use of digital health technology. The largest demographic using digital health was the age range of 25-34. 86 percent indicated that they had both the right to their health care records and the right to determine who those records would be shared with. Millennials still dominate the digital health market, 25 percent of them having downloaded a health app within a month of the survey being taken.

As we move toward more digitized use of devices and records storage, security will become another trend in 2017. Health care providers and patient medical records are valued prey for cybercriminals, because there is much personal and financial information to be had. This and all above will get a lot of attention in 2017.

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