Is digital health a failure?

  • Billions of dollars are pouring into digital health.
  • However, Americans aren’t getting any healthier.
  • Millennials are so overweight that they could be the most obese generation in history.
  • U.S. life expectancy has fallen for the last three years, while it rises all around the world.

When it comes to health perhaps the biggest hype is how digital health is going to save our healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars. The reality though is that so far digital health has done too little to be an effective intervention in our health care.

The question then becomes “is digital health a failure?”. The answer to that is a huge “no” but the hype, and expectations, around digital health are way too premature.

Like any new technology, digital health is going to take a while to become mainstream in a way that supplements our current healthcare. There are also so really bad assumptions about digital health like the idea that someone is actually going to check into a smartphone app several times a day to help them manage a chronic health condition.

In order for digital health to really succeed, we need the following:

1ne: A separation of digital health into medical and lifestyle/exercise categories.

2wo: Clincial proof to the industry that digital health interventions really do provide better patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs.

3hree: Full integration of digital health into health insurance companies and physician offices.

4our: Focus and target of digital health on the people that need it most, not just healthy people.

5ive: An in depth understanding that patients who have a serious medical question, issue, want real help from real HCP’s who can talk to them like concerned people not just patients who need an Rx.

6ix: A weeding out of digital health companies who are only in it for the quick money.

7even: A combined effort by insurers, pharma, the medical profession and tech to develop real world solutions that are going to be used by consumers.

Digital health is coming, but right now it looks like an old 486PC, huge color monitor with 2MB of RAM. Digital health is only PART of an integrated health solution and is not going to stop someone from eating that huge cheeseburger or get them to exercise more. We need to lower our expectations around digital health and understand that it’s just another piece of an integrated approach to lowering healthcare costs.