Healthcare is becoming more connected with direct-to-consumer devices and apps and mobile solutions from providers for managing chronic conditions, which is why connected health continues to be a hot topic of conversation.
Consumers are adopting technology for health and wellness at a growing rate. Fitness devices are now common for many, with fewer discarding the devices. Instead, many consumers are upgrading to smart watches and utilizing their mobile health dashboards.
Many of these smart watches also monitor sleep, and so, restless buyers often scoop up other sleep monitoring devices. The sheer variety of devices and apps is growing weekly – everything from monitoring pregnancy and your infant to smart clothing and digital shoes.
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It’s encouraging to see many companies coming into the patient portal space. The first generation of portals were clunky and many were not mobile-enabled. Adoption was slow; many signed up for portal access but never used them. Consumers complained about the inability to consolidate their medical data from multiple providers with different electronic health records.
New products offer the ability to consolidate data through the use of standards, such as Clinical Document Architecture (CDAs) and HL7 FHIR®. User-friendly interfaces provide users with more value to the patient, engaging them in their personal care. Improved secure messaging options and even chatbots enter the conversation to enhance user experiences.
Connected health technology provides more options for the consumer and provider to manage chronic conditions. This includes devices and apps that give instant feedback to both the patient and the provider.
Digitally connected inhalers, for example, help patients manage asthma and even include air pollution warnings in the app. Glucose monitors and insulin pumps continue to improve with the artificial pancreas now combining the two, thus enabling better glucose control around the clock. Connected blood pressure cuffs and wireless scales enable the monitoring of conditions like hypertension and heart failure. Providers are learning how to incorporate this patient-generated health data into their workflow to improve patient outcomes.
Clinical trials for new drugs have always been a highly regulated industry, and as a result, pharma has been cautious about the use of new, consumer-directed technology. With recent clarification of regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), life sciences companies have embraced the newly defined field of digital therapeutics.
Digital therapeutics is defined as the use of digital tools to either support or enhance medical therapies or to replace treatments by the use of digital tools. For instance, diabetes prevention programs have gone virtual with coaching apps and demonstrate success for those at risk for developing the disease.
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The Personal Connected Health Alliance, or PCHAlliance, a HIMSS Innovation Company, accelerates the technical, business and social strategies necessary to advance personal connected health and is committed to improving health behaviors and chronic disease management via connected health technologies.
Originally published April 9, 2018