Advances in digital healthcare could save the industry billions, but it’s essential for professionals to separate fact from fiction.
If investments are any indication, the digital transformation of the healthcare industry is only getting started. Rock Health reports that in the first half of 2017 alone, a record-setting $3.5 billion was invested into nearly 200 digital healthcare companies. Even more significantly, digital health technologies could save the industry as much as $46 billion annually. It’s apparent that patients, providers, and healthcare facilities can expect to see considerable changes as a result of innovation in this space.
Given the impressive amount of capital flowing into digital health startups, we can’t afford to be misinformed. Let’s tease apart some of the biggest myths about digital healthcare.
Myth #1: There’s No Appetite for Digital Healthcare Among Patients
In an age of data breaches and compromised personal information, it’d be understandable to think that patients would be, on the whole, reluctant to trust their personal health information to apps and other digital services. Many healthcare professionals make the claim that patients simply don’t trust apps enough to engage with them in a way that makes them worth the investment for providers and healthcare facilities.
In fact, patients do want to use digital health services — so long as they work well and address needs they actually feel are unmet. According to research, the overwhelming majority of Americans agreed that they could imagine using digital health apps. If patients don’t embrace a certain technology, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested. Instead, they might not see how that app or service meets their healthcare demands.
Myth #2: Only Millennials Have Substantial Interest in Digital Healthcare
Though this myth feeds into a convenient narrative, it’s inaccurate to say that older generations lack interest in digital health services. Millennials are certainly tapped into their mobile devices and easily transition to online healthcare platforms easy, but that doesn’t mean that their seniors haven’t made the mobile migration as well.
Research from 2020Health shows that people between the ages of 55 and 75 are more than willing to embrace the digital transformation of healthcare. This is especially true when it comes to medication reminders, or technologies that connect patients more easily to their caregivers.
Myth #3: Mobile Technology Will Be the Primary Driver of Digital Health
With the increasing penetration of mobile technology across age groups, healthcare professionals might jump at the opportunity to integrate mobile health services into their wider offerings. Data confirms that the mobile health market is growing, but since millennials are generally more engaged on smartphones than their older peers, these services won’t make for a one-size-fits-all solution.
Instead, developers should consider how best to target the most engaged mobile audiences. Younger users more readily adopt wellness apps while older users are more likely to want easy, direct access to their providers.
Myth #4: To Succeed, Digital Health Services Have to Be Groundbreaking
In order to break away from the rest of the pack, app developers constantly try to outdo each other. But in the case of healthcare, it’s more important to pay attention to patient and provider needs than create something radically innovative. Ultimately, patients are looking for digital health services that make their lives easier, enable convenient access to their health information, and foster better communication with their providers.
Take a recent study that monitored patients with severe depression using the Apple Watch and Cognition Kit application to track symptoms. Researchers reported an impressive 94.6% compliance, suggesting that patients saw the benefits of using the Apple Watch as an additional management tool.
Myth #5: The Digital Health Revolution Requires a Revolution
Healthcare professionals and developers may think that they need to create exhaustive platforms that can be everything for patients, providers, and facilities at all times. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the optimal digital health solution. Instead, it’s better to start with smaller changes that can be built and released quickly.
For example, ZocDoc has succeeded not because it sought to remake patient interactions with their doctors from top to bottom, but because it created an intuitive system that took something of a headache — booking appointments with physicians and specialists — and made it as easy as ordering something from Amazon.
Understanding the myths surrounding digital healthcare can help medical professionals better capture and communicate its value to important stakeholders. When we pay attention to what’s really going on, we can build better solutions.