Future of Healthcare - Digital Health

What’s healthcare’s future? Three words. Remote. Patient Monitoring.

Prajwal Sharma, April 17, 2021


The intersection of healthcare and technology has been longstanding ever since the introduction of the first computers in the 1960s. Improvements in technology led to the invention of the first electronic medical records (EMRs) as well as improvements in medical diagnostic tools such as CT scans and EKGs. In recent years, technology has been leveraged to change the landscape of medicine to be more digitally oriented, which has led to what is known as digital health. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the relevance of digital health, as many in-person provider-patient interactions were difficult to schedule due to the concerns of contracting COVID-19. Even with the vaccine rolling out and the restrictions starting to ease up, however, the digital health industry does not show any signs of slowing down.

Digital health is a broad term that refers to the care of the patient through digital mediums such as remote monitoring devices, smartphone apps, and telehealth visits. The advantages of this approach to healthcare are numerous, such as allowing for a holistic evaluation of the patient.

Patient health will be constantly monitored while the current paradigm is to track patients through sporadic in-person appointments. Remote monitoring devices give the provider more data points to pull from and facilitates prevention through the early diagnosis of life-threatening and chronic diseases. Chronic disease will become more manageable as the providers can quickly respond to any abnormalities in a patient’s health information and can adjust the treatment plan immediately.

Current vs Future of Healthcare

  • Sporadic Observation keyboard-arrow-rightContinuous Observation
  • Reactive keyboard-arrow-rightProactive/Preventive
  • Static plan keyboard-arrow-rightDynamic plan

Digital health also provides more autonomy to patients and allows them to retain more agency over their health. Patients have ready access to their health information at any time and can facilitate communication with their provider easier by sending them a text message or setting up a quick virtual appointment. Virtual appointments for low yield questions or a quick check-in are easier to incorporate into a busy day and also prevent unnecessary commutes to a hospital or clinic. Obtaining necessary medications from pharmacies and sharing patient information between various providers is also made easier through digital health.

Of course, the benefits of digital health would come with a price. Because patient information is very sensitive, security is of the utmost importance. Security precautions need to be constantly reviewed and regulations need to evolve to provide adequate patient protection and facilitate competent care through an online platform.

One thing is for certain: digital health is here to stay. Soon, getting a check-up will be as simple as sitting in front of a laptop and buying an item on Amazon. A medical question can soon be answered not through WebMD, but by shooting a quick text to a provider – all without leaving your house.