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4 Digital Health Trends for 2022

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What You Need to Know

  • Firms may focus less on selling to employers and more on selling to consumers.
  • Efforts to monitor vital signs remotely could expand.
  • Digital health connector services are starting to get attention.

We’re at a strange crossroads. On one hand, it feels as if the world stopped calculating the passage of time starting in March 2020. On the other hand, in the health care industry, it feels as if we’ve sped ahead by two decades, with the normally slow pace of innovation breaking all kinds of records and expectations.

The sink-or-swim mentality brought on by the COVID pandemic accelerated innovation in every aspect of health care. Now, as the dust settles, many stakeholders are realizing that their reasons for resisting disruptive technology were unfounded, and they’re looking for ways to maximize the opportunities that COVID has opened up.

Funding for digital health is blowing up, and the sky’s the limit for a health care world suddenly, and solidly, committed to tech innovations.

Here’s what we can expect to see more of in the upcoming year.

1. The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Health Care

Once relegated to niche silos, direct-to-consumer technology, or concierge approach, has come roaring up the backstretch this year as the employer market becomes increasingly saturated. The high user-quality of tech offerings like GoodRx, Hims & Hers, Ro, and Curology have contributed to their success.

These companies can’t afford to skimp on the user experience — because users pay out of pocket, there is a higher barrier to adoption. On the other hand, the lack of a guaranteed customer base as well as less access to consumer data with the new ability to opt out of in-app data sharing on the latest Apple iOS means that these companies are punching up when it comes to user acquisition.

2. Mental Health Is Top of Mind

The stigma around mental health issues has been slowly lifting over the past decade, but as with many things, COVID accelerated exposure to the problem and lent urgency to finding solutions, and with high-profile celebrities like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles sharing their stories about mental health struggles, the market has never been more ripe for solutions.

But while the marketplace has been flooded with text-based therapy apps and other meditation and mindfulness tools meant to support better mental health, questions around efficacy and outcomes plague their progress.

We can expect to see continued demand for solutions, but innovators are going to have to figure out problems of scale and make a case for the suitability of digital mediums for dealing with issues such as trauma.

3. Beyond Telemedicine

In the first frantic months of the pandemic, health systems rushed to offer “telemedicine” to their patients — in many cases, this simply meant a patient had the option to see a provider over video.

Although in-person visits have returned, many patients have gotten used to the convenience of virtual care and expect to have it as an option, but worries about the quality of care and limitations on what kind of care can be delivered through video (hint: it’s not much) have driven the use of remote patient monitoring (or RPM) as a supplementary tool.

With RPM, patients can track some vitals from home through a connected or manual device and add their data to a central database (in other words, the electronic medical record).

One of the additional benefits of RPM that adds to its popularity is the ability to have asynchronous interactions between patient and provider — especially critical in a field that is experiencing increasing strain from provider shortages.

4. The Solution vs. the Ecosystem

The rapid influx of mobile applications for various health needs has created a new genre of technology — digital health companies that exist solely to serve other digital health companies.

Digital marketplace services like Xealth and Redox simplify the process for providers to order and prescribe various digital tools and services directly through the electronic medical record, while companies like Zus are attempting to cut through the problems of data isolation with a patient-centric data exchange solution.

Underlying all of these trends is a more widespread overhaul of the health care system. The COVID-19 pandemic had the health care industry plugging the dike with whatever tools came to hand. Now that the danger has been neutralized, it’s evaluating whether these tools are even the appropriate solution for the problems and needs of the modern-day system.

We’re going to keep seeing these infrastructure changes in the foreseeable future as the world adapts to a post-pandemic world.

Anish SebastianAnish Sebastian is the CEO and co-founder of Babyscripts, a company that offers internet-enabled pregnancy products and services.





(Images: JYPIX/Adobe Stock; Tierney/Adobe Stock)


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