Traditional healthcare has evolved and continues to do so with the help of converging technologies. This evolution of medicine is likely to present several opportunities in the years to come. However, the problems associated with such a revolution must not be overlooked. On the other hand, challenges created by converging trends in healthcare must not hinder sustainable innovation that digital health promises to bring about to data-driven economies around the globe. In this article, the focus remains primarily on introducing the emerging opportunities that digital healthcare has made possible today. These span four major areas that are as follows:
The idea behind this strategy focuses on shifting the paradigm of care from hospital settings to other lower-cost sites that are accessible to most patients. This requires unification of patient data and the integration of this aggregate database into the central care system. Moreover, non-clinical and clinical services ought to match in order to deliver integrated healthcare solutions to the many patients out there seeking adequate healthcare.
Wellness and Preventive Care
Under this strategy, efforts are to be made to prioritize preventive care instead of reactive disease management. This means there is a need to identify the risk factors involved. A developer’s kit may be introduced to allow diagnostics and analytics to converge with behavioral economics. This kit will be known as the big data and digital therapeutics construction kit. Efforts must also be made to prevent future costs associated with healthcare by devising early intervention programs. All of this is intended to help slow down disease progression.
There is also an urgent need to target scientific advances in healthcare to specific consumers. Traditional mass generalization must be replaced with precision care by integrating drugs and devices with affordable diagnostics, clinical support and disease management programs. Hence, targeted care bundles for specific individuals with precise healthcare requirements are desired. In addition to this, transparency is essential when it comes to setting prices for customized healthcare needs. Otherwise, the idea of creating affordable digital health seems void.
Aging, Chronic and End-of-Life Care
The various opportunities of convergence of technology in healthcare under this category dictate a focus on community-supported aging instead of institution-based aging. The idea aims to use big data and analytics to deal with chronic conditions. There is, hence, a need to formulate new and improved services and models for healthcare. This may be achieved through the creation of modular, self-directed solutions aimed at the elderly, ensuring medial support till the end of life. Moreover, this calls for enhanced skills and knowledge of non-medical caregivers to extend assistance to the elderly outside healthcare institutions when needed.
In order to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all, these innovative strategies under the four main categories identified above become inevitable. Unless these emerging opportunities of digital health are not fully utilized, we will not be able to see the benefits of these technologies for the field of medicine and healthcare. It will all be nothing but a lost cause.