Digital Health: How is technology helping individuals maintain their health from home?
A new wave of innovative technology and digital solutions are giving way to a future where remote healthcare is a standard practice.
With the development of online capabilities and services, e-health has been on the rise for over a decade. Since Covid-19, however, digital health has become critical – and brought to center stage – in an environment that is increasingly reliant on remote services.
As a result, the use of digital tools and interventions in wellness and health care are no longer an exception, but rather a crucial component on which the industry relies. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the innovations that have brought e-health to the forefront of outpatient services – and are bringing healthcare access to millions who previously had restricted access to the service.
Contactless diagnosis and treatment
Apps are being developed to check patients’ sugar and vital levels to ensure a healthy balance. These apps act like a middle man between the patient and doctor.
These apps provide a type of ‘front-line’ service that allows vital signals are remaining within normal parameters. By using these types of apps for early detection of imbalances, doctors and healthcare providers can provide more effective treatment and detect ailments before they become major problems.
In a similar way, Implanted devices can be used to collect data on biological activity to understand trends in illnesses and how to treat them better.
With medical data collected in real time, doctors can predict adverse events to prevent or respond to them rapidly.
Digital devices can even be implanted in the brain to send electrical impulses or release drugs to prevent neurological events like seizures
Cloud computing is even being used to instantly share data and medical information around the world, providing healthcare providers with new, more efficient ways to analyze medical data, and to protect sensitive patient data if and when it becomes vulnerable to public leaks
Dietary and physical well being
Devices such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch are turning the idea of constant biometric monitoring into an everyday, convenient reality.
There has also been a proliferation of fitness apps such as myfitnesspal, which uses your body mass index and personal goals to create dynamic personalised fitness and nutritional plans, in what can be described as a digital personal trainer. These apps daily exercise and eating activities to keep users up to date on their progress and moving towards their goals.
Myfitnesspal even has a meal scan feature which uses your phone’s camera to recognize different kinds of food and give you feedback on the nutritional information and recommended serving sizes.
On the strictly nutritional side, food tracking apps like Lose It focus on eating habits and calorie consumption, and offera variety of customizable plans to match your diet of choice and help you establish a healthier lifestyle.
As people become more aware and concerned about their well being, we have seen a parallel expansion in health and fitness apps emerge. Mental health is no exception to this rule either.
This is especially the case – and unsurprising – since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: many people have suffered higher rates of depression and anxiety as a result of job losses, restriction of movements and other challenges.
A wide range of mental health apps have been developed for people to cope independently or connect with therapists. There are many options to choose from, such as cognitive behavioural therapy approaches and mindful meditation.
Talkspace, for instance, is a platform that allows people to work with licensed therapists at a very affordable price. The app includes an unlimited messaging option that allows you to communicate with your therapist remotely multiple times a day at your own convenience.
Other apps like Wysa give the option of self-care or guided support so you can choose whether you want to work with a therapist or not. Through techniques like journaling and mood tracking, users can become more self-aware of their psychological state and share such information with a therapist. This can give mental health practitioners crucial material to work with, and allows the user to work at their own pace without having to wait a week for the next therapy session.
Many of these apps include an SOS function that allows the user to communicate directly with a professional in case of an emergency.
Education and medical assistance
Approaching 2 years into the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still many countries that are experiencing lockdowns and restrictions. This has prompted much of education to take place online. E-learning and e-commerce have become part of a new norm, and digital health is an increasingly popular subject for those who are entering the medical field.
Every day, AI programs are being increasingly used to process and deliver crucial data. This information can have a severe impact on many vulnerable individuals who already have health conditions or are at risk of developing them.
Programmers and scientists have been working together closely in recent years to create programs that utilize AI in order to provide important health information. In this study from Penn State, we can see how AI algorithms can use environmental and psychological data to help identify homeless youth at risk of substance abuse.
Medication tracking apps like Pill Reminder & Medication tracker by Medisafe, have also emerged as very useful tools for elderly people and others who require assistance to make sure they take their medication on time. Such apps often provide functions that measure and track blood pressure, glucose and other important health information.
When it comes to health, there are many challenges to developing fully reliable digital platforms. The amount of liability involved to ensure medical professionalism creates a high risk factor that cannot be taken lightly.
Many who use implanted medical devices and digital health platforms belong to vulnerable populations that may experience severe consequences, should something go wrong with the technology.
Digital health technology must be tried and tested rigorously to ensure its effectiveness and acquire the necessary permits and certifications to legally offer such services to the public.
When we put the fragility of human life in the hands of AI and digital technology, there is a huge sense of responsibility and risk of error that must be taken into consideration. This is both for the well-being of the user and the professional reputation of the company developing these programs.
Another persistent challenge that exists across many fields in the digital sector is data use and privacy. This is especially the case when it comes to private health information, as many users have understandable concerns of how their data is being used, processed and shared.
In recent years, healthcare data has become more of a target for insurance companies, as well as criminal hackers. This highly sensitive material can be obtained and used against users by means of extortion, or through fraud. In response, medical centers and cyber security companies are making greater efforts to safeguard such delicate data in an effort to protect their clients and their own trustworthiness.
All things considered, the field of digital health is an exciting and fast-moving dimension of the digital economy, and promises human civilization with enormous benefits and innovative treatments in the years to come. At the same time, the companies that are able to offer innovative services within the digital health economy will be driven forward by the most powerful market force there is: human life itself.
At Bocasay, we thrive on taking on the digital challenges of our clients, and turning their visions and dreams into reality. Do you have a digital solution you want to develop? Get in touch to find out how we can help you make it happen.