Is Digital Health Making an Impact on Healthcare?

Mobile health (mHealth) apps and telemedicine have the potential to lower costs and improve patient care by allowing closer collaboration between patients and healthcare providers. The increasing adoption of health apps and other tools means not only healthier, more informed patients, but a more robust market: mHealth technology is expected to grow to $60 billion in 2020—an increase of 33%.

Is digital health the panacea it’s made out to be, or are we just generating data for data’s sake? Deneen Vojta, executive vice president of research and development for UnitedHealth Group, said it’s too soon to say.

“Digital health is worth investigating,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of healthy people leveraging devices to understand fitness. And we do see growing evidence in healthcare of organizations leveraging similar technology to improve care. We have to better understand how patients engage and study the outcomes. There are the early adopters, and there’s the rest of us.”

Johnson & Johnson hopes patients of all technical persuasions will embrace Health Partner, a new connected digital platform that guides patients through all steps of surgery, from consideration to rehab. A website provides articles and tools for patients debating surgery (Health Partner currently focuses on weight loss, hip, and knee). A mobile app walks patients through surgery preparation and recovery. A care portal allows real-time interaction between physician and patient.

“All three digital tools put the patient at the center,” said Amy Foley, vice president of product innovation and delivery for Johnson & Johnson. “Our behavior scientists and digital product experts put together what we think and know, based on research, will work with a particular population.”

Through Health Partner, Johnson & Johnson collects, analyzes, and draws insights from patient data to further refine its capabilities and deliver a more tailored experience. “We might assume a certain set of behavior change techniques works well for a population based on experience and literature,” Foley said. “But as users work with our tools, we might see a subset of those tools that are most effective.”

Princeton HealthCare System’s joint replacement program has grown from 800 procedures a few years ago to 1500 in 2017. Evaluating the program, Princeton Health System leaders found a gap in patient engagement. It brought in Health Partner to help boost engagement.

By Heather R. Johnson | MD+DI

Image Credit: StockSnap/


About Peter Coffaro 603 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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