Worldwide there is an increase in the burden of chronic diseases and health professionals are slowly embracing digital health technologies as a potential solution to improve patient self-management and help in prolonging human life. Digital health technologies can help with remote monitoring of patients as physicians can study vitals of patients virtually in a real time setting by using smart devices. Digital health solutions include online applications, mobile apps, connected devices and engaging web platforms where healthcare and technology intersect. This includes mobile health (mHealth apps) electronic health records (EMRs), wearable devices, telemedicine and telehealth all of which has helped with the advancement of personalised medicine.
Digital health has also helped in transforming conventional clinical trial conduct by de-centralising clinical trial conduct to virtual and hybrid models. However, there are serious challenges which need attention, such as data protection concerns and regulatory restrictions which need to be sorted to reap the full benefits of implementing digital health technology.
Importance of Digital Health
Digital health involves more than just tools and technology. It also involves the use of artificial intelligence and interoperable data which can help with consumer focussed prevention-oriented care. With the advancement in artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning, digital health has helped to develop robotic caregivers, ingestible sensors and apps to monitor patients remotely.
Digital health has been developed to save time and improve efficiency combining technology with healthcare and the latest innovations include internet of things, loT, medicine and augmented reality (AR) and blockchain. Digital health brings in increased connected health solutions. Improving this connectivity boosts smarter and on time information sharing between patients and doctors. Connected help solutions assist in achieving a quick response time and was vital in the pandemic. Digital health technology use has to be studied as there are safety concerns of if it is up to the expected quality standards. Data processing and safety of personal data is another concern, for example when transferring information from loT devices to remote servers.
There is an emerging trend in digital health, where increased patient engagement is observed and the patient is viewed as a stakeholder in research and not just a data source. This is part of connected health. loT has significant use as a monitoring and information source to gather behavioural data and harness physiological data.
Artificial intelligence helps with improved diagnosis, selecting treatments and, predicting clinical outcomes. AI solutions improve fairness and helps to bring in transparency to the health system.
Some of the Recent Health Technologies In Use
- Advanced Telemedicine: The pandemic has shown that telemedicine has advanced with technology use to achieve virtual health monitoring. According to telemedicine it has been possible to dispense medications remotely and many virtual care visits have been possible. Telemedicine is expanding to primary health care and urgent care and telemedicine is now available for mental health services and long-term care facilities.
- Novel Drug Development Methods: Digital healthcare can help in identifying potential drugs needed for drug development. Also, regulatory processes can be fast-tracked with the use of technology. Virtual, de-centralised clinical trials help in making clinical trials more cost-effective.
- Nanomedicine: This is a medical application using nanotechnology. It operates using atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Nanomedicine helps with sensing, imaging, and diagnosis. This technology is a great way to target individual cells.
- 5G – Enabled Devices: Cutting-edge technology is driven by Big Data, loT and AI. Healthcare is connected using fast internet connections and it has helped in availing telemedicine. 5G-connected sensors and medical devices help with instant data transfer and improve patient outcomes. These devices would help to bring in personalised, predictive, participatory, and preventive treatment options.
- Healthcare’s Digital Assistants: Digital assistants help individuals to interact with technology and popular digital assistants include Alexa and Google Home. Voice-enabled virtual assistants to help physician-patient conversations.
- Smart Pacemakers: These devices which can deliver electrical impulses to the heart can be remotely monitored for their functionality. These pacemakers use Bluetooth technology and can be linked to smartphones.
- Wearables with a purpose: Wearables are handy and portable. It has helped to monitor patient vitals constantly and also acts as a fitness tracker. Wearable continuous glucose monitors helps to track blood glucose levels in real-time. It can shape lifestyle accordingly.
Thus, technology use in healthcare has been able to offer personalised services, which would help in the advancement of medicine.