If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that the future is rather unpredictable. That being said, it is useful to take a lucid look at the powerful potential that existing and emerging digital technologies offer to improve the quality
patient care in 2022 and beyond.
Here are five ways digital health is reshaping the healthcare environment:
1 Proactive, predictive and personalized digital health management improves care
When patients think of digital health, they usually consider the possibility of having a telehealth/virtual visit with a caregiver because they are not feeling well or are experiencing symptoms that concern them. However, it’s time to start thinking about digital health from a much broader perspective: the ability to anticipate and solve problems before serious or life-threatening health issues arise.
Specifically, remote patient monitoring (RPM) – a key component of virtual care – will increasingly help clinicians proactively manage post-acute and chronic care using a highly personalized and data-driven approach. . Stage 1 involves building a personalized profile for each at-risk patient using artificial intelligence (AI)-based analytics applied to continuous real-world patient data captured by wearable sensors. Step 2 involves identifying and alerting clinicians to abnormalities specific to that individual patient that may signal potential health issues.
For example, rather than comparing a patient with heart failure to millions of others living with the same condition, this technology can determine the baseline at which an individual patient is functioning and living safely. By tracking changes in sleep, exercise, vital signs, or other physiological measures, clinicians can proactively intervene to prevent or mitigate problems in a more personalized approach.
The result is a win-win: clinicians can improve the quality of care, hospitals can reduce unnecessary and costly readmissions, and patients can stay home longer, more comfortably, and with more confidence.
2 Hospital-at-home options allow providers to maximize resources
The pandemic clearly highlights the challenges faced by health systems when the number of critically ill patients exceeds the number of available hospital beds and exacerbates clinician shortages. Deploying digital health platforms that continuously monitor patients and use AI to extract clinical insights can significantly help stretch these limited resources.
In some cases, patients thought to need hospitalization can be “admitted” to their homes while clinicians manage their care remotely, freeing up hospital beds for the sickest people who need these treatments. Providers then provide care of equivalent quality in a lower-cost environment, and patients recover or manage their condition in the comfort of familiar surroundings. In other words, the hospital comes to the patient.
Improving hospital-at-home options enables healthcare systems to deliver the right care from the right clinician to the right patient at the right time. The extensive and innovative virtual care payment models implemented by CMS so that hospitals can rely on reimbursement for this approach further strengthen its viability.
3 Ongoing RPM and AI analysis helps prevent avoidable and costly readmissions
Unnecessary and avoidable readmissions continue to be a costly challenge for hospitals. For example, readmission rates often reach 25% for patients with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The ability to prevent just a handful of these readmissions results in significant cost savings.
Continuous RPM combined with AI to extract information and provide context around captured physiological data provides a more complete picture of the patient. This, in turn, supports the ability of clinicians to intervene in a timely manner to prevent readmissions. To cite just one example, a clinician may need to understand if a patient’s heart rate has increased because they just ran up the stairs or because their condition is deteriorating. On-demand access to near real-time data can guide decision-making and appropriate treatment.
4 Disease- and device-independent RPM and AI analytics provide valuable health insights
Wearable sensors are becoming more mainstream, with the global wearable medical device market poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.8% from 2021 to 2028, according to Grand View Research. As consumers become more comfortable with wearing non-intrusive devices as part of their daily routine, it has become easier to monitor a wide range of important vital signs and physiological activities. to understand well-being and illness.
But data alone is often insufficient for health management; the “magic” comes from the application of AI-based analytics. Disease- and device-independent machine learning platforms can extract personalized clinical insights from volumes of data and trends, focusing on the specific health needs of each individual. Armed with this information, clinicians can partner with patients to create, implement, and monitor health management plans tailored to unique patient needs and goals.
5 Digital health technology helps improve medication dosing and adherence
Poor medication adherence costs our healthcare system billions of dollars every year. Digital health platforms using AI can improve medication adherence by increasing touchpoints with patients to help them more easily stay on track with their medication regimen.
But what’s even more exciting is the opportunity for life science companies and clinicians to collaborate with technology companies to help provide the information clinicians need to titrate drugs to patients’ specific needs. patients. For many drugs, adjusting the drug to the optimal dose requires multiple patient visits. This is burdensome for both patient and clinician and delays optimal treatment. Remote monitoring of the patient’s physiological response to the current dose allows the clinician to track key vital signs which can make it safe and effective to adjust medication doses while the patient remains at home. This at-home approach to medication management reduces barriers to optimal dosage for a myriad of conditions.
Digital technologies are increasingly redefining healthcare in multiple ways. They help patients take the right medications in the right dosages at the right times and allow clinicians to identify signs of decompensation and other clinical risk factors so they can proactively intervene to improve outcomes. They also help providers find cost-effective ways to optimize limited healthcare resources. All of this bodes well for exciting opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible.
Gary Manning is senior vice president and general manager, healthcare, physIQ.