Five Predictions: What’s Next in Digital Health?

The pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of digital health solutions and is causing a rebalancing of approaches to care management.

With increased demand during the pandemic, health plans, health systems, and employers are all investing in the infrastructure necessary to support digital health solutions and facilitate convenience and better outcomes for their members and patients.

As this rebalancing occurs over the next several months, these are the changes I see on the horizon:

  1. Solutions that leverage the smartphone and put consumers at the center of care are going to win the day. Frequent check-ins-personalized across the domains of time, frequency, channel, tone, content, and intervention-support people outside the doctor’s office by ensuring adherence, facilitating long-term behavior change, and catching escalations before they become major problems.
  2. While smartphones and Wi-Fi are available to the majority of people, some populations still aren’t able to take advantage of these tools. Because 2020 reinforced the idea that digital access is a social determinant, I predict that more work will be done to ensure connected tech for more people.
  3. Telehealth will lead the way toward permanent digital health reimbursement.
  4. The digital health marketplace will consolidate. DarioHealth’s acquisition of Upright this year, for example, expanded our suite of solutions to include back pain and other musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders. MSK problems often go hand in hand with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, other chronic conditions.
  5. As effective digital solutions rise to the top and expand their market share, healthcare costs will go down and patient responsibility for the cost of digital health management will decrease. Creative risk structures will develop, and solution providers will be held accountable for patient outcomes.

Prior to the pandemic, medical practices and health plans had been burned by digital health providers, who promised engagement but never delivered. This was even more unacceptable in a crisis situation, and now digital health providers are being evaluated with much more scrutiny.

Finding a digital health partner can be confusing as more players continue to enter the marketplace. While certain intangible factors will always come into play, such as a partner’s level of engagement, spirit of collaboration, and kinds of questions they ask, be sure to look for specific and tangible items such as clinically proven effectiveness, system interoperability, simple and transparent billing, and a highly-personalized user experience that keeps people engaged without dropping off after some initial enthusiasm.