What Is Digital Health? Where Is It Going?
By Kevin Pereau, “The Digital Health Guy”
With my book The Digital Health Revolution off to such a sensational start, The Digital Health Guy is getting booked into healthcare shows and corporate retreats all over the world. If you have already purchased your copy, thank you! I hope you have enjoyed the story and have been able to glean some insight into all the innovation that has taken place over the last eight years.
With that as the backdrop, I thought it would be a good idea to address some of the most frequently asked questions I get on the tour. Most notably, what is digital health? Is it an app on your phone, a medical device, is it your Apple Watch, or maybe the analytics engine that captures and analyzes all that data we have been collecting on ourselves?
In practice, it is all of that and then some. As The Digital Health Guy, I define it simply as the intersection of technology, healthcare and consumers. I refuse to call today’s medical consumers “members” or “patients.” Although, believe me, to navigate our healthcare complexities, you do need patience! At the end of the day, we are all consumers and healthcare consumption is starting to look like any other industry driven by cost transparency, choice and quality of care.
With digital health extending our healthcare value chains, we are blurring the lines of traditional delivery and consumption. If you think that we have seen the last of horizontal mergers like CVS and Aetna, you had better buckle up. We are just getting started. Healthcare is finally becoming a consumer-driven industry and that is something from which we will all derive benefit.
The ACA provided great impetus for the wave of innovation now finding its way to market and the transition to value-based care models has kept the momentum going strong. For perspective, here is a brief history of digital health, which is now only about 8+ years old.
- Digital Health 1.0: This was 2012-14 and it dispelled the popular myth that people wouldn’t engage or be held accountable for their lifestyle choices. People who thought that were completely wrong. Thousands of apps appeared overnight, many of which were fee-based. Not only were people engaging, they were sustaining their engagement and paying for access.
- Digital Health 2.0: The emergence of apps gave way to the medical device and fitness tracker explosion, generating a wealth of new data. We sometimes called this the Quantified Self movement and it occurred between 2014-2016. At this point, the smartest people in the room were still looking backwards and telling us what just happened.
- Digital Health 3.0: Perhaps the most notable take-aways from 2012-2016 were these: data alone isn’t enough to move the needle for us in healthcare. Understanding what just happened isn’t enough, nor will predicting what will happen next be. We are now on the cusp of what I call Connected Health where taking action on our personal data will be the new norm. It will be the biggest performance gain opportunity we will see in our lives.
Another question I get asked a lot and have the most fun answering is what I like to call the “crystal ball” question . . .
With so much innovation taking place in healthcare and so many new entrants looking to service our consumer needs, who will emerge as the new market leaders?
It is an easier question to answer than you might think. With many of the challenges of sustaining engagement and analyzing data solved at least from a technology perspective, the new market leaders will be those with a data strategy. Specific to that, those who are adding value to the data we choose to share with them and helping us get and stay healthy will be the most influential. From the womb to the tomb, or, as Dr. Eric Topol writes in his book Deep Medicine, from lust to dust. Those companies who can capture our information while providing meaningful context will be our “Go-To” partners who we listen to the most.
So, whether you are just getting started or consider yourself a seasoned digital health veteran, plug in and stay connected. It is amazing what you can connect to using only your smart phone.
To your health!
Kevin Pereau, The Digital Health Guy
Follow the Digital Health Guy on Twitter: @DigitalHlth_Guy
“The Digital Health Revolution” Kevin Pereau – sign up here for updates and get your copy today.