How COVID-19 Spearheaded the Digital Health Revolution
Four months ago healthcare looked drastically different from what it does today, and what it will years from now. The physical limitations of healthcare that we once knew of are slowly beginning to erode. COVID-19 has essentially forced digital health innovation across the globe, erasing the notions that physical space, time, and in-immediate access to health care are an inevitable reality.
Digital Health Startups & Innovation
The adamant presence of COVID-19 has increased the urgency for technology that can connect patients to physicians without physical consultation.
Innovators are merging the worlds of digital-tech and healthcare to make it more accessible, breaking down the boundaries of restricted social interaction and physical space. Now more than ever, we need applications and technology that will allow non COVID-19 victims to get effective treatment without putting their health on the line by entering high risk spaces. Venture capitalists and investors have come to the forefront to pour money into digital health startups because they know it’s the next big thing.
- IBH has launched an innovation incubator that aims to “evaluate and implement” new technology aimed at improving mental healthcare.
- Minnesota based company Optum Ventures recently lead with 26 million in funding for chronic condition management startup, Kaia health. The smartphone-based technology aims to help people manage musculoskeletal conditions through digital therapy solutions. Since launching, Kaia Health has raised over 50 million in capital and enrolled over 400k users.
- Digital health startup Conversa, aims to sell a multitude of platforms that enable care teams to communicate with their patients virtually. The platforms vary from condition — asthma, diabetes, joint replacement, heart failure, diabetes, and more. They have raised over 25 million in funding.
Visionaries have also seen huge potential in healthcare delivery through artificial intelligence (AI). After the outbreak of COVID-19, the use of drones for medical delivery has come into question. Although many advances and regulations have to come into the picture before such a plan is executed, this just gives us insight into the possibilities of AI like drones as a possible form of medical treatment that even further bridges the physical gaps of medicine.
The Robo-Advisor, an AI machine meant to serve as a financial and investment management consultant, has also come into consideration as a possible medical agent of the digital and AI health future. Innovators have played with the idea of applying the financial advisement methods of the Robo-Advisor to healthcare. This way patients would be able to interact with the virtual intelligent computer program ahead of talking to a doctor. Don’t think it’s that far ahead. We should expect to see these innovations make their way into clinical use in the next 5–10 years.
“AI will not replace physicians. However, physicians who use AI will replace those who do not” — Jacky Dallaire, CEO, Vida Life AI
You and I both most likely know someone getting their healthcare needs met through zoom appointments with their doctors. What does this mean? Tele-medicine is finally making it’s grand entrance.
Millions of citizens across the globe are beginning to realize the benefits of having their doctors, therapists, and physicians available digitally. It’s shown to be just as effective, save time, and even save money; The majority of telehealth users have reported it to be just as good as in-person healthcare and 21% report it being even better. Why make the trip to the doctor when you can set up a call that will render itself just as good right from home? HIPAA compliant video conferencing tools have made a whole new method of doctoring a possible new norm.
This interactive medicine method allows patients and their physicians to have real time communication without the operational restrictions of limited physical interaction. TeleMedicine technologies also allow doctors to monitor their patients digitally by using mobile medical devices to collect their data.
TeleMedicine has allowed for care to be delivered as safely as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of high amounts of restrictions on travel and even doctors visitations, millions of Americans have been forced to use telemedicine as a form of coping with their health needs. And who says that they’ll go back to dealing with doctors “the regular way”?
No more crowded waiting rooms…
Optimized Future Healthcare Costs and Time
As we all know, time is money — especially for doctors (and you). With digital health services growing in popularity, healthcare costs are likely going to drop. Ever walked into the hospital or clinic only to get charged upwards of $300 for signing a couple papers and speaking to a doctor for 2 seconds? You may not have to worry about this being your experience 5 years from now. With a growing digital framework for medicine, sitting in waiting rooms for annoyingly long periods of time can become a reality of the past.
Digital pharmaceutical services are beginning to grow in popularity as well. It is now possible and more accessible than ever to get your prescriptions delivered without ever stepping foot outside of your home. With the help of companies like Honeybee Health Pharmacy, Pillpack by Amazon, Capsule, Zipdrug, Walgreens Express, and even CVS Pharmacies, paired with telemedicine, physicians are able to doctor and prescribe with little to no interaction.
Because health is going online rapidly, you’re much less likely to have your time wasted. The information is handled beforehand, you set up your appointment, and cut right to the chase. With digital health, the supply of doctors becomes more perspectively fluid. The optimized time spacing will essentially drive down the price of healthcare overtime.
Time, time, time — everyone saves some.
What to Take Away From This
- Artificial Intelligence will make its way into healthcare sooner than you think
- Digital health startups are hot. Investing, learning, or brainstorming — get interested
- TeleMedicine is growing in popularity faster than ever and COVID-19 was its catalyst
- Digital health startups and telemedicine will optimize time
- Saved time = Saved money. Expect healthcare costs to drop a couple years from now
Telemedicine… “It allows us to connect a patient to a doctor and it allows us to erase time and distance which is really the miracle of telemedicine” — Jay Robbins, Director of Telemedicine, Tift Regional
- Healthcare will never be the same