I think we can all certainly agree COVID-19 has created an indefinite “new normal.” Personally, I hated the thought of a new normal because I knew in my heart that none of this is normal. Taking children out of school, stay-at-home orders, quarantines, travel bans and mandatory mask legislations may be necessary, but are definitely not normal.
One positive trend I have seen since the arrival of COVID-19 has been the ever evolving innovation of digital health and digital therapeutics. Digital therapeutics is nothing new, as the pacemaker, the automated external defibrillator (AED), continuous glucose monitoring devices, and even electronic medical records have been around for decades. But as of late, more and more people are taking their health into their own hands. From the Peloton and the Hydrow to wearable devices and health and wellness applications, maintaining our health and improving our quality of life has never been more accessible.
Digital health is the use of technology to facilitate physical and mental wellness, to monitor health conditions and to record and retain health information. The evolution of telemedicine has become imminent with the arrival of COVID-19. Digital health gives us a comprehensive record of our medical history, personal and family history, and it offers endless capabilities for providers and patients alike.
According to the American Medical Association, the number of healthcare providers offering video appointments in 2016 was just 14%. By 2019, that percentage doubled, and the number of telemedicine visits in 2020 have increased tremendously, (2020). The capabilities of remote access to healthcare providers has definitely helped slow the spread of this virus, but it also shows us what our future has in store for us.
According to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, “digital therapeutics (DTx) deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a broad spectrum of physical, mental and behavioral conditions,” (2020). DTx is designed to be integrated into patients’ every day lives in the form of personalized care.
This technology gives patients access to more reliable information about their condition and their treatment when they are not in the presence of their healthcare provider. These devices and applications monitor existing conditions to alert us when our levels are abnormal or worsening and they in-turn prompt lifestyle changes in the absence of a healthcare provider. Therapeutic devices ultimately lead to a reduction of healthcare expenses for both patient and provider, as well as opens the door for innovation as it relates to early diagnosis and treatment.
Though the nation’s current situation is frightful, the opportunity for innovation is exciting. What will they come out with next?!
American Medical Association: https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/digital-health-tools-gain-momentum-among-physicians
Digital Therapeutics Alliance: https://dtxalliance.org/dtx-solutions/