For centuries, the healing arts were steeped in mysticism and suspicion. Healers were at the same time cherished and feared, occasionally even suspected of witchcraft or sorcery because of their incredible skill over the human body. Mostly, their work was a mystery to the common man.
Those days are long gone.
Today’s medical industry is practically an open book for the general population. Not only can most people read—a skill few possessed less than two centuries ago—but they have full access to a variety of journals, textbooks, online databases, and thousands of other informative resources about healthy living and effective medical treatments.
Even more impressive is the technology available to support the spread of information and easy access to medical care. With the U.S. GDP for healthcare spending hovering at 18 percent, as well as the changing needs and wants of the American population, a Digital Health Revolution has finally gathered momentum—and some amazing tools have been the result.
Developers have already crafted and continue to create a vast array of technological tools, each designed to fulfill various healthcare needs. Below is a list of some of the incredible digital health tools now available on the market, all of which are useful for both providers and consumers alike.
Wearables, such as smart watches, monitoring devices for chronic illnesses, and fitness trackers, are constantly being developed and improved. These digital health tools are expected to grow into a $40 billion market by 2020.
While smart access systems like the Amazon Echo were not originally designed for healthcare application, they do provide quick access to valuable medical information in case of an emergency. You can actually ask “Alexa” for instructions on pulmonary resuscitation and receive step-by-step instructions for CPR. Other digital tools with this type of technology and quick information access are likely in the pipeline for specific application to the healthcare field to meet further medical needs.
It’s hard to believe the whole app system for smartphones was only released about a decade ago, since there seems to be an app for nearly everything these days, including various apps for healthcare. Medical apps have become the most common digital health tool. There are apps for medical students, consumers concerned with their health, and fitness enthusiasts. The variety is staggering, as is the potential for further growth.
Initially, telemedicine was met with a great deal of suspicion, but the high cost of care and increasingly higher deductibles for consumers are causing many providers to rethink their early judgements. Telemedicine is often less expensive and attractively flexible for busy patients trying to maintain both their health and their lifestyles.
Perhaps the most influential aspect of the Digital Health Revolution on the health of larger populations and practice cost performance capabilities is the growth of analytics tools. Through predictive analytics programs, we can predict health outcomes within certain regions and populations based on basic data input. By analyzing trends, healthcare professionals can adjust their focus and help improve the overall health of a population based on certain targeted concerns. On a smaller level, analytics tools allow practices to both better manage patient health and improve financial outcomes.
The benefits of modern digital health tools are practically innumerable and can be applied in a variety of ways across different populations. Wearables, for instance, may be effective for helping reach at-risk populations and addressing certain gaps in care availability—goals that almost all digital health tools are designed to meet.
With further investment and development, patients across the globe may have access to effective and affordable options for treatment, prevention, monitoring, and diagnosis. Digital health offers new resources the medical field has never seen before, and—considering predicted growth in the field—plenty of patients are very happy with this newest global revolution.