Fifteen years ago, healthcare was lagging behind other industries when it came to high-tech innovation and changing Americans’ perception of “the way things had to be done.” At that time, having your health records available electronically was just starting to resonate. Now that the majority of physicians use electronic health records (EHR), the industry is still innovating and at an even more rapid pace to bring consumer-facing health apps, wearables and telehealth to the market.
Most physicians and professionals in the healthcare industry agree that patients who have easy access to their medical information are more likely to be engaged and follow through on physician instructions. Monitoring daily caloric intake, setting up alerts to take medications, tracking steps and following patterns in heart rate on a wearable device are just a few examples of practices that lead people to make healthier choices. This is especially true for patients living with chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma. Having a medical provider linked to these results makes them even more meaningful – patients can access their daily screenings and doctors can set up tools to flag upticks or irregularities that could be dangerous.
Corporate offices have been using video conferencing for years to save on time and travel expenses. Now the healthcare industry is jumping on board in the form of telehealth. When patients can access their doctors via a mobile phone or computer, it enables them to immediately address concerns at their convenience. This is especially relevant for patients in rural areas who may not have access to a leading medical center nearby but have a small concern that needs to be evaluated. Telehealth is also useful for patients with chronic diseases who need to closely monitor their vitals. Check-ins with a care provider that can occur remotely via a video conference can help keep the patient on-track, give doctors peace of mind that their patients are following directions and reduce overall healthcare costs since the patient does not physically have to go to the physician’s office.
As the field continues to innovate at a rapid pace, it‘s promising to see more consumers adopting these new technologies and taking an actionable role in their health. In addition to consumers, providers and entrepreneurs, employers are also playing a large role in advancing healthcare innovation. More companies are offering wellness programs as they deal with the increased costs of health plans. As a result, these companies are seeing huge benefits from providing wearables to their employees and offering incentives for reaching certain health goals.
In the fifteen plus years I’ve been involved in healthcare, the industry has come a long way and we’re still just at the beginning of its true potential. As CMS and payers begin to shift to value-based care and focus more on outcomes, we can expect to see these innovations continue to explode.