Team of doctors discuss a patient's case

Healthcare Industry Democratization via Connected Health

July 19th, 2018 - 0 Comments

The healthcare industry is experiencing a revolution by connecting patient access with personal health information and it’s improving lives.

The democratization of the healthcare industry is a popular topic and one that signifies the transition of knowledge about medicine from the doctor to the patient. This shift provides the patient community and others access to their own health information like never before. It also equips them with vital information that helps them lead better lives.

The new paradigm of the healthcare industry is evolving and changing every day with the advancement of new technology. The nucleus of the healthcare system within the connected health arena is making waves, as it increases awareness of access to different tools — from lab results and prescription notes to images.

In the near future, family doctors will know how well their patients are doing without seeing them directly. Connected technology, if applied well, could bring healthcare to newer heights and give overstretched GPs a much-needed helping hand.

Doctors under Strain

But the picture today is different than what we anticipate. Family doctors, the cornerstone of the health service, are buckling under the workload. GPs have the same allotted time for a patient with a common cold or tonsillitis as they do for a patient with a multitude of complicated conditions, from heart disease and diabetes to depression. This cannot be right.

These old ways will not work much longer and many companies are spending more on R&D. We know from available data that, by 2039, 29.5 percent of the population will be over 60, and one in twelve will be 80 or over. These people will typically have multiple chronic conditions and, as a result, pressures on health services and face-to-face consultations will increase.

Consequently, virtual clinics, online group discussions and peer-to-peer support among people with the same conditions will be in high demand. Traditional face-to-face consultations will no longer be accepted as the default way to access GPs.

Healthcare has to move from being acute and reactive to being proactive and preventive. It has to not only help people with long-term conditions manage their conditions, but also prevent people from developing them in the first place. The idea is that, by encouraging patients to be involved in their care through ongoing health monitoring, it is possible to intervene before an issue becomes acute.

This will mean fewer expensive interventions and people requiring hospitalization. However, it is also about setting up appropriate support in a home environment so that, after any hospitalization, individuals can return home sooner.

Transformative Technology

The evolution of connected health technology plays a major role in this transformation. Some of the following important facts suggest the same:

  • 44% of the world population will own smartphones in 2017-2018
  • The top pharma companies have 63% more unique apps compared to previous years
  • The global mHealth market value may reach $21.5 billion by the end of 2018
  • A report from CCS Insight forecasts that the wearable market is set to increase in size threefold in the next five years, growing from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units in 2019

 

Consumers today are more demanding than ever. Not only do they want to be in control, but they also want options tailored specifically to their needs. Usually, their demands are instantly gratified — from footwear and fitness regimes to banking services and even food — everything is customized or personalized just for them. But the healthcare industry is still playing catch-up.

Up until now, patients have been considered consumers and their participation in decision-making processes has been largely deemed insignificant. However, things have been changing recently and they are becoming an important stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem. People are beginning to understand the significance of their contribution, rather than imposing things on them.

Within research, consumers’ participation has been limited to clinical studies. However, a number of research bodies are looking to change this and allow participants to be part of a peer review group. Based on their experiences, they can be asked to review a topic and, more importantly, they can help address issues related to research questions, which are important to the final outcome of a project. True democratization will only take place when we involve everyone in the decision-making process.

Graphic showing the connected healthcare industry

Healthcare Industry Revitalization

Thanks to a focus on personalized data, real-time information and blockchain technology, healthcare is finally getting a reboot and the implications are significant. Not only will it impact patient outcomes positively, but the health arena will also democratize, paving the way to greater efficiencies and scalability. Here are some trends for the coming years:

  • Patients in control and generation of real-time data:
    Medical testing is a huge industry. A total of 75% of clinical trials are funded by private pharmaceutical companies, with businesses spending in excess of $63 billion a year. And it’s only growing. Recruiting patients for medical trials is a tricky and expensive business, but healthcare startups are identifying new, clever solutions. Companies are offering patients the chance to share their anonymized data with healthcare companies and get paid for it. Patients can opt in and out as they see fit. This lucrative arrangement allows the patient to receive money, which can then subsidize the drugs they need. As there is no middleman arranging the clinical trials, patient incentives are generous and real-time information is available to pharma companies.
  • Blockchain powered, data secured:
    Data loss is a huge problem, with three in ten tests reordered because the results cannot be found. Blockchain technology solves this and has the potential to save the healthcare industry billions, free up doctors to solve pressing needs, rather than retread old ground, and save lives. Around 80% of all serious medical errors are caused by miscommunication when patients switch between care settings.
  • Tailored health:
    Anything made specifically for a consumer is likely to increase adherence and, therefore, help prevent problems arising in the future. As the medical fraternity advocates: prevention is always better than cure. Companies are now using biometric means to understand the eating habits of clients and create personalized menus and eating plans. Compliance and health outcomes always improve with personalization.

 

To learn more about the healthcare industry and how it is transforming with technology, along with the challenges this presents for the healthcare industry and specific companies — talk to the experts at phamax today.

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