The Commonwealth Fund published a report recently focused on how those working to bring digital health services to market can help such technologies overcome the market barriers they currently face.
The firm's writers defined digital health as "tools as those that can be used in health care to compress large amounts of information (e.g., words and images) on small storage devices for easy preservation or transmission via the internet or other telecommunications networks. A related term, connected health, refers to the use of technology (often consumer technologies) to provide health care remotely."
After interviewing 16 providers, investors, startup founders and others working in digital health, the researchers came up with five over-arching recommendations for those working to help digital health services find adoption.
First: Define opportunities by focusing on the nation’s greatest health and delivery system problems. Second: Close knowledge gaps among consumers, technology developers, entrepreneurs, health care executives, and investors through networking and learning events. Third: Create test beds in care settings to validate the impact of innovations on quality, outcomes, and costs as well as on clinical and consumer experiences. Fourth: Enable consumer-centered design and valuations of new technologies. And fifth: Address barriers to uptake, including operational factors and challenges related to an evolving reimbursement and policy landscape.
The report explains each of the recommendations in detail. It also offers up eight motivators for the uptake of digital health -- a few from the patient's perspective, the provider's, and the payor's.
For providers, digital health means: "Increased work satisfaction as technologies create time and flexibility; financial incentives that reward high-value care and penalize inappropriate utilization of resources; expansion of market share as professional reputation takes into account cost-effectiveness, consumer focus."
For patients, digital health services mean: "Convenience: care where and when you want it; less expensive options; opportunities to share information about providers, care experiences, outcomes."
Finally, for payers, digital health could bring about: "Expansion of market share as competition among health plans increases and purchasing decisions shift from employers to consumers; potential to reduce costs for all payers (government, employers, individuals)."