Investors in digital health have been busy this year. In the first half of 2017, 188 startups took in $3.5 billion in investments—a record setting amount.
It’s not hard to see why. Patients and providers are both looking to digital health tools to get better treatment and improve the relationship dynamic.
With all that money flowing into some very intriguing startups, and it’s a good idea to know what the digital health industry holds for us in the coming years.
When a rural patient has to travel hours to see a doctor for a simple consultation, there’s a problem that needs solving.
Telehealth isn’t just for rural patients, but it is a big step forward when it comes to getting patients the care they need, when they need it. And by 2018, telehealth adoption is expected to double from its rate in 2016 according to Hospitals and Health Networks.
Telehealth is a term that covers a broad range of services, but it boils down to using technology to help facilitate consultations, diagnosis, education, or care management—anything that used to be done solely in person, that can now be done while patient and provider are physically miles away.
It’s not just a convenience thing, but can actually be a life-saving resource as well. Patients who face difficulties getting to a care provider now have the option of meeting virtually.
This will open up a whole new world of possibilities for healthcare and doctor-patient relationships.
2. Patient Recovery
A surgeon who has hundreds of patients a year can’t call each patient every day to follow up and see how they’re doing. The volume quickly becomes overwhelming. The rate of knee replacements alone nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010 according to the CDC. But post-op, patients want to be in the loop. They want to know that they’re on target during their recovery, that they’re hitting their milestones.
That’s why many of the investments in digital health are going towards patient recovery tools. For example, Pulse is a joint replacement recovery app that is the brainchild of Dr. Nitin Goyal, a surgeon and digital health entrepreneur. Apps like these look to use tech to help patients stay on course after their surgery—even if they aren’t able to visit with their doctor in person—and help reassure them throughout the recovery process.
As digital health continues to progress as an industry, more and more of these sorts of tools will become expectations for patients—especially considering the digital savviness of each future generation.
Image Credit: Daniel Frank