Diagnostic Directions Digital health: Consumers, outcomes lead the way

Diagnostic Directions Digital health: Consumers, outcomes lead the way

May 29, 2015
Bipin Thomas
From the May 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Digital health means something very different today than it did just a few years ago. “Digital Health” used to describe the technologies that providers and payers used to organize passive information about their patients and members. Today it’s the health care consumer who’s driving that technology. In the new health economy, digital health has turned the old business-to-consumer model into a consumer-to-business one.

What’s responsible for this shift? Two things: the outcome economy and consumer behavior. Trends towards greater visibility and more intelligible data in both realms have created a feedback loop. First, new technology makes consumers more informed, which raises their expectations for access and participation in decision-making. Second, that technology also allows consumers to transmit more accurate information to their health care team, including their physician and insurance company. The result? More accurate information about their patients enables doctors to make specific recommendations about long-term sustainable health changes.

The Outcome Economy

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Until recently, the outcome economy had grown slowly because of the difficulty in accurately and continuously understanding what consumers want. But new technologies have helped illuminate those preferences. Increasingly intelligent hardware platforms, also known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), are the backbone of the outcome economy. Devices of all kinds can now send data automatically via embedded hardware and sensors to a health care organization.

That organization can use those data to generate real-time insights into how consumers are using their products, services, and recommendations. Organizations can also learn which metrics their patients use to define what “being healthy” means to them. Many consumers will want to lose weight, for instance, others may have specific signs related to family history they want to monitor. In effect, these metrics enable digital health businesses to identify, measure, and aim for their patients’ desired outcomes.

Consider the example of the remote patient monitoring platform. With this technology, health care organizations are focusing on improving patient outcomes using consumer- friendly medical devices, wearables, and sensors at the patient’s home. These intelligent devices capture real-time data for care management, engage patients with timely care interventions, and deliver relevant patient education materials.

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