The future of digital healthcare

The future of digital healthcare

30th March 2017

What is digital healthcare?

Digital healthcare represents the convergence of technology and life sciences. Digital healthcare is having a seismic impact on the deployment of new medicines and transforming markets all over the world. New technological advancements enable digital healthcare providers to process information and data relative to thousands (and often millions) of patients. These advancements, particularly when it comes to the design and development of innovative new mobile apps, are actively enhancing patient wellbeing and health. Technology enables healthcare providers to digest massive amounts of data which in turn can be used to enhance decision making and reduce the cost of deploying specific healthcare services by pinpointing ineffective practices and processes. Today we’re exploring the future of digital healthcare.

Mobile technologies and wearable devices can provide high quality measurements and monitoring features to people living in remote locations who would otherwise be excluded in terms of participation. New mobile technologies and platforms enable doctors and clinicians to collaborate and develop new life saving procedures and innovations. The list of new technological advancements is growing every day and healthcare providers are now embracing mobile technology to improve patient care, cut costs and streamline existing processes and services.

The current state of technology in digital healthcare

White and Case recently surveyed the views of more than 120 senior healthcare executives who are involved with life sciences to establish how they are adapting to changing market conditions within the sector. The challenges associated with technological innovation are broad and varied and likely to include operational, legal and wide ranging strategic considerations. The output of the survey is compelling and displays great enthusiasm amongst healthcare professionals when it comes to collaboration and the desire to innovate. White and Case are describing these transformational shifts as a ‘digital healthcare revolution’. Healthcare professionals at the cutting edge of technology and innovation are now witnessing significant competitive advantages whilst transforming the way healthcare services are deployed to tens of millions of people across the world.

Statistics and trends in digital healthcare

The era of digital healthcare transformation is well and truly underway as new innovations transform the way new services and innovations are deployed to the market. These innovations can range from anything including remote monitoring and mHealth, to wearables devices and big data visualisation. But what do the numbers look like when it comes to discovering trends in the digital healthcare sector? The following numbers are based on output from the “​​The cutting edge: Shaping the future of digital healthcare” survey:

  • 90% of healthcare executives surveyed suggested that digital healthcare played a crucial role determining overall business strategy
  • 92% of life sciences companies plan to increase their investment in digital healthcare over the next 18 months
  • 96% of technology companies plan to increase their investment in digital healthcare over the next 18 months

The survey suggests that in order to maximise the opportunities associated with the digital healthcare revolution, companies from different sectors will need to increase collaboration and enable the cross fertilisation of new ideas and innovations. One potential challenge associated with this is the notion that companies are ill equipped to deal with a more collaborative approach. The survey suggested that:

  • 82% of technology companies and 85% of life sciences companies worry that their business cultures are not compatible

Despite the perceived trepidation, the survey established that companies from both life sciences and technology sectors acknowledge the benefits of cross-sector collaboration and the enormous market opportunities associated with the digital healthcare movement. The survey also focused on the legal challenges and complexities involved in the digital healthcare arena, with 75% of life sciences companies and 80% of technology companies identified IP (intellectual property) constraints as a barrier to progress and innovation. In fact, 73% of all companies surveyed suggested that the lack of a standardised approach to global data privacy presented many challenges and created a barrier that can potentially stifle growth and innovation.

The survey also indicated that 82% of life sciences companies and 90% of technology companies suggested that they would pursue their unique digital healthcare strategies even if their products and innovations could not be patented or protected in any way under intellectual property law. This suggests that despite the perceived complexities, companies from the life sciences and technology sectors are keen to collaborate and invest heavily in digital healthcare related mobile apps and innovations.

The digital healthcare market opportunity

The commercial opportunities associated with the digital healthcare sector are huge. BCC Research recently conducted a study suggesting that the market for healthcare focused mobile apps, wearable devices and other healthcare related technologies will experience a 55% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between now and 2018, with an estimated value of $21.5 billion. Here are some of the key stats:

  • 90% of businesses believe that digital healthcare will play a key role in their overall business strategy
  • The majority of companies believe that big data analysis and visualisation will generate the most growth in the next 3 to 5 years, with the focus over the next 20 years shifting towards remote monitoring and mHealth services that can be delivered via mobile devices and apps
  • It’s predicted that in the next 5 years that Generation X (those born between the years of 1965 and 1981) will be the main consumers and drivers of digital healthcare consumer apps and products
  • It’s estimated that 62% of tech companies and 37% of life sciences companies already have a well defined digital healthcare strategy

As the world’s population ages and grows in size, demand for healthcare services is increasing. As demand increases, healthcare budgets across the world are becoming increasingly constrained. It’s now estimated that by the year 2020 that the NHS in England will experience a gap in finances of approximately £30 billion. In the USA, it’s estimated that 18% of the country’s annual GDP is spent on healthcare and it’s unlikely that this figure will increase at the required rate over time time. In some instances, healthcare budgets in certain countries may be decreased. New innovations in technology and life sciences are now required to solve this problem.

New innovations in digital healthcare possess tremendous potential, particularly when it comes to enhancing patient outcomes and enhancing the global healthcare ecosystem. These new innovations can massively reduce the cost of deploying healthcare services. Goldman Sachs recently produced a report suggesting that in the near future, there will be an opportunity to save £305 billion, thus helping to significantly reduce costs and enable access to digital healthcare services to millions of additional patients.

Big data analysis in digital healthcare

Big data analysis and visualisation will play a crucial role in the development of new digital healthcare services and innovations. For businesses focusing on the management of chronic diseases, new technologies will enable massive amounts of data to be gathered for analytical purposes across millions of different patients and devices. This data can in turn be used to analyse different treatment options and pathways based on the requirements of each individual patient. This means that chronic disease management companies will possess the ability to identify the best possible treatment options in relation to the precise needs of the patient, in a way that’s never been possible before without the use of of big data analysis and visualisation. As new technology and life sciences companies emerge to take advantage of the lucrative market opportunities on offer, this will create a global healthcare revolution and transform the way in which healthcare services are deployed to patients.

Remote monitoring will transform digital healthcare

It’s now estimated that more than 50% of Americans live with a chronic medical condition. Finding new ways to monitor these patients is creating a vast opportunity for businesses and technology providers. Remote monitoring is an essential component of preventive healthcare. It enables healthcare professionals and clinicians to monitor and analyse patient data and prevent medical issues and emergencies before they occur. This is particularly relevant when monitoring key personal healthcare indicators such as glucose levels and blood pressure and can lead to a culture of patient empowerment. If patients can draw links between their lifestyle and the diseases they suffer using data, it helps them to make better decisions in relation to their health. If patients can actively be involved in the process of monitoring personal data it can help them to overcome the conditions from which they’re suffering and maintain a better quality of life.

Conclusion

The future of digital healthcare will be driven to a large extent by the design and development of new technologies. Healthcare providers can now deploy wearable devices and mobile apps to process and analyse massive amounts of data, which can be used to improve patient wellbeing and living standards. These technologies can also be used to dramatically reduce the cost of deploying healthcare services. Here at Waracle, we’re obsessed with mHealth and digital healthcare and we’re busy working with some of the world’s biggest healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies to develop exciting new mobile apps. We’re extremely proud of the work we’re doing in the digital healthcare space as these innovations enable us to help people and improve the lives of people who live with chronic medical conditions. If you’re a healthcare provider, life sciences or pharmaceutical company thinking about developing an mHealth app we’d love to hear from you, contact Waracle today to kick-start your project.

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