You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating – 2020 accelerated the adoption of digital health at an unprecedented rate. The COVID-19 pandemic made the healthcare industry pivot in more ways than one, and now the expectations around digital health are only growing.
Even if COVID-19 had been completely wiped out by now (excuse us while we daydream…), transitioning to the world of digital would still be essential for 2021 and beyond. Let’s discuss why.
Consumers are expecting a digital-first experience
Before the pandemic, consumers were starting to shift to digital health solutions. With 81% of Americans owning smartphones,[i] it’s no wonder telehealth visits, online pharmacies, fitness apps, and more were growing in popularity.
Once folks weren’t allowed to leave their homes, the shift to digital wasn’t just something of interest. It became necessary. Between virtual appointments and prescription delivery, many have been exposed to the personalization and convenience that digital solutions offer in healthcare. Because of this, the expectations for these options have been drastically raised. If you’re not offering a digital-first experience, consider taking the first step towards doing so.
Investing in remote monitoring solutions offers a high ROI
With consumers’ interest in digital healthcare comes the need for remote monitoring. If patients are staying home, providers need ways to gather health insights past the point of care.
Remote patient monitoring solutions, like the EveryDose clinical portal, can significantly decrease readmissions and emergency room visits. Results like these improve profit and loss by reducing avoidable costs and boosting health systems’ reputations.
Speaking of money, it’s all going to digital health
At the start of the year, Mercom Capital Group released 2020 data surrounding digital health fundraising.[ii] $14.8 billion was invested as a whole, with telemedicine receiving the most capital. Data analytics startups and mobile health apps closely followed.
Needless to say, if you’ve found a problem to solve, consider how technology can help. If you’re a payer or provider with a problem, note that your options for digital solutions will grow over time.
If that didn’t convince you, maybe the government will
CMS has introduced a few new policies recently to encourage healthcare providers to make better use of technology. These include the Hospital Price Transparency rule,[iii] the Interoperability and Patient Access rule,[iv] and the Expansion of Telehealth with 1135 Waiver.[v]
For anyone unfamiliar with these policies, the Hospital Price Transparency rule requires hospitals to disclose the standard charges for 300 services and post them online.
The Interoperability and Patient Access rule establishes policies that streamline data-sharing. This enables better patient access to their health information and reduces the burden on payers and providers.
Finally, under the 1135 Waiver, Medicare can pay for office, hospital, and other visits completed via telehealth across the country.
Rules like these lead us back to the start of this blog post. Consumers want more authority and communication around their healthcare, and the best way to do that is through technology. Should digital health continue to progress at the rate experts predict it to, we can make an educated guess that CMS will be coming out with more rules and guidelines around the topic.
So, what are the drawbacks?
Technology has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry, but it doesn’t come without obstacles. Three of the biggest standing in the way of digital health? Inequity amongst patient populations, length of implementation, and security risks.
All patient populations aren’t the same
Offering patients digital access to their health records, communicating with them through mobile applications…it sounds great until you realize that all patient populations aren’t the same. There are many consumers out there who lack access to technology and the internet. This means the shift to digital must be executed carefully.
The good news is that there are opportunities to boost digital health usage among low-income populations. This study mentions partnering with community organizations, hiring community health workers to facilitate engagement, and increasing Wi-Fi hot spots.[vi]
Implementation isn’t always quick
Implementation of digital health solutions isn’t always swift. Transferring physical data, connecting providers’ systems to payers’, etc. can take a good chunk of time – years, even. There’s no doubt that interoperability is a big undertaking, but in our eyes, it’s 100% worth it.
Fortunately, for those looking for remote patient monitoring solutions that can be up and running quickly, there’s the EveryDose clinical portal.
Security risks can be lessened, but never fully alleviated
As we all know, with any type of technology comes security risks. We won’t waste your time by listing all of them here but remember: if and when you do decide to go digital (whether you’re a health plan, health system, or health vendor), be sure you’re following all government laws and regulations.
COVID-19 rocked the healthcare industry. We owe it to those on the front lines of this pandemic to develop, implement, and use digital solutions that will provide actionable insights, streamline communication amongst stakeholders, and simplify healthcare experiences for years to come.
To learn more about what EveryDose is doing to transform healthcare, book a FREE demo today!
Cover photo by Unsplash
[i] “Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 5 June 2020, www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/.
[ii] “9M And Q3 2020 Digital Health (Healthcare IT) Funding and M&A Report.” Mercom Capital Group, 12 Oct. 2020, mercomcapital.com/product/9m-and-q3-2020-digital-health-healthcare-it-funding-and-ma-report/.
[iii] “Hospital Price Transparency.” CMS.gov, CMS, www.cms.gov/hospital-price-transparency.
[iv] “Policies and Technology for Interoperability and Burden Reduction.” CMS.gov, CMS, www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Interoperability/index.
[v] “Fact Sheet MEDICARE TELEMEDICINE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FACT SHEET.” CMS.gov, CMS, www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/medicare-telemedicine-health-care-provider-fact-sheet.
[vi] Liu, Patrick, et al. “Use of Mobile Health Applications in Low-Income Populations.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, AHA Journals, 4 Sept. 2020, www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.120.007031.