Tech-enabled solutions are permeating the healthcare landscape at such an accelerated pace, it can make your head spin. Even as this market is expected to exceed $379 billion by 2024, many have yet to grasp the concept of digital health.
Despite growing evidence that digitally driven innovations will boost efficiency, reduce costs, and improve clinical outcomes both patients and doctors hold onto false beliefs about tech health.
They think it’s complicated, pricey or downright useless.
Those are just some of the biggest myths about digital healthcare that we are about to debunk in this article:
- Digital health is not as effective as traditional healthcare services
Telemedicine might be one of the most popular byproducts of digital health. It allows physicians to diagnose and treat patients via web and mobile platforms. While this type of healthcare service is now covered by more commercial insurers, many can’t help but wonder: “Is telemedicine as effective as traditional, in-office doctor appointments?”
Yes, it is.
A 2016 survey found that up to 94 percent of patients treated via telehealth at a CVS Minute Clinic were “very satisfied” with telehealth. Though, it’s worth mentioning that patients prefer to use telemedicine with a doctor they’re already familiar with.
- Only young people can benefit from it
If it’s digital, it must be a youth thing. Not when it comes to health, though.
A huge part of the digital health market caters to Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964. Contrary to popular belief, Baby Boomers are not clueless about technology. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that over 80 percent of boomers are active social media users. And as long as they’re guaranteed convenience, Boomers are willing to embrace new health technologies too. It’s no coincidence that Baby Boomers are big fans of online tools, such as patient portals, that helps them manage their illnesses with minimum effort.
What’s more, recent statistics show that 29 percent of U.S. baby boomers would choose a medical provider that offered easy access to their lab results.
- Only tech-savvy people are benefitted
Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain or virtual reality (VR) are just a couple of concepts that come up in conversations surrounding digital health.
Patients can now slip their arm into a wireless blood pressure monitor and get instant, highly-accurate readings that they can later share with a doctor using their smartphone. Or they can put their finger on a portable electrocardiogram (EKGs) to find out whether they are at risk for developing heart disease.
And there are dozens of medical devices that even older, digitally challenged physicians can use. AccuVein, for instance, displays a real-time map of a patient’s veins on his skin. This allows clinicians to perform blood tests faster and more efficiently, which is especially important before surgeries.
None of these devices require previous training or background knowledge of tech.
- Digital health is expensive
Laptops are a perfect example of the technology life cycle. As laptops and computers became more mainstream and more advanced versions came out, their prices dropped, especially for the older models.
Health technologies are no different.
Thanks to telemedicine, access to mental health services are more affordable than ever before. With plans starting from as low as $35 per week, platforms like BetterHelp or Talkspace connect people with virtual therapists at a fraction of the cost of traditional therapy.
There are many other ways technology continues to reduce healthcare costs.
A couple of examples:
- AI-powered scheduling apps that predict patient volume are helping hospitals reduce the cost of staff turnover.
- Analytics and smart software enable healthcare providers to accurately track their entire medical inventory.
- Fitness wearable devices were shown to reduce healthcare costs by up to 46 percent, decreasing costs for both patients and hospitals.
- It’s shaped by companies, not patients
From tech giants like Amazon to retail pharmacies, health startups, insurers and device manufacturers, everyone is racing against the clock to launch tech products that will bring patients the most value.
Patients’ demand for convenience, for example, turned Amazon’s Alexa into a virtual health aid. Countless Alexa skills help people lose weight, refill their prescriptions, stay in touch with physicians and even buy health insurance.
The digital revolution in healthcare is driven by patients’ demands for easy, fast, high-quality and affordable care. And it’s up to providers to keep up the pace.
Some of the biggest names in health are taking steps to demystify digital health.
Last month, The World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever set of recommendations on digital health interventions.
And some of the most reputable schools of medicine, like Columbia University, are offering programs to help executives in healthcare incorporate digital health in their business.
With changes like these, it won’t be long until the healthcare industry as a whole sees technology as a great asset, rather than a mysterious foe.