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Digital Rx: How Healthcare is Going Digital

Digital medicine, from prescription-grade apps to mobile health, social solutions and telemedicine, is revolutionizing the relationship patients have with their doctors. With more and more control in the palm of their hand, digital therapeutics are drastically modernizing the healthcare industry. Social medicine, for example, is already proving successful with hospitals and organizations for chronic or terminal illnesses. Facebook pages for cancer awareness groups have proved critical in building community, while hospitals like Northwestern are destigmatizing illness with playful and empowering Instagram posts. With 3.48 billion people using social media and 2.23 billion active monthly users on Facebook, it’s a powerful communication tool for the medical industry.

Mobile health has also proven to be a powerful digital consumer touch point around health education — last year Apple podcasts passed 50 billion all-time episode downloads and streams — medical information, and services. The number of clinical trials utilizing mHealth through mobile apps more than doubled in the last 3 years, proving how pivotal simple and inexpensive technological solutions are for patients and providers. In the era of information, patients can use mhealth apps to empower themselves to make better decisions about health and wellness, while physicians can guide patients to useful resources.

Now available in all 50 states, the numbers around telehealth continue to grow significantly, with 76% of hospitals fully or partially using telehealth in 2017, and 61% using remote patient monitoring capabilities. Promising 24/7 access, this new mode of connectivity presents an exciting opportunity to redistribute healthcare via video chat, secure email messages, and live service. In addition, remote physical examination is becoming more and more possible as innovation continues around connected home devices. New medical apps like Pear Therapeutics and Akili Interactive round out the array of services consumers can now expect to find beyond a clinician’s office. Remote, digitized interactions may well be the future of basic healthcare, reducing costs and increasing accessibility in the decade to come.

The Shift: Digital innovations and platforms have allowed doctors and patients to discover new modes of connectivity and interaction.

The Takeaway: Convenience continues to drive innovation, and both HCPs and consumers must capitalize on new ways to receive care and reduce costs.

Consider: Meet consumers in remote or online contexts where they feel comfortable and at home, from Facebook to educational podcasts.