Can Digital Health Drive Down Diabetes Costs?

Thursday, April 14th, 2016
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

The majority of organizations engage in digital health to enhance patient satisfaction with their healthcare experience, according to March 2016 HIN market metrics.

New metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN) have determined that 58 percent of digital health initiatives target patients with diabetes, the global cost of which is now $825 billion per year, according to a new report from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Harvard, the World Health Organization and nearly 500 researchers around the globe recently conducted the largest-ever worldwide study of diabetes levels.

Respondents to the February 2016 Digital Health Survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network report that, along with the diabetes population, individuals with congestive heart failure and hypertension are also closely monitored by digital health programs.

Weight and vital signs, key indicators that can signal complications with diabetes and other chronic conditions, are the health activities most frequently monitored by digital health, said 63 percent of survey respondents, a trend Melanie Matthews, HIN executive vice president and chief operating officer, would like to see expanded.

“In our device-driven era, many individuals already use at least one electronic tool for health-related reasons. Coaching people to use digital health to monitor vital signs like weight and blood pressure will foster self-management.” And with chronic conditions held in check, the industry should see a drop in hospital utilization and associated cost, Ms. Matthews predicted.

Digital health, also called ‘connected health,’ leverages technology to identify, track and manage patients’ health problems.

The survey also identified these digital health trends:

  • Individuals at moderate risk for hospitalization are the most engaged in digital health, said one-quarter of respondents.
  • Seventy percent said the principal goal of digital health is to elevate patient satisfaction with the healthcare experience.
  • Individuals at risk of a health crisis or hospital admission are the most heavily invested in digital health, according to one-quarter of respondents.
  • Mobile and tablet apps are the front-running digital health platforms, say 78 percent of these respondents, with online health education the principal digital health activity for 58 percent.
  • Overall, patient engagement proves the biggest digital health hurdle to overcome, say 23 percent of respondents.

For more 2016 digital health metrics, download the Digital Health Survey executive summary.

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