Building a Digital Health Future

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2021-07-27
  • Publisher: Wiley
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Digital has already drastically changed our lives in areas from music, food, travel television and even social relationships. Health is also now experiencing a strong influence from the digital realm, which will change our way of thinking about healthcare and how we approach it. The recent past has already brought on changes to health that can be considered disruptive, and it will be even more so in the near future! Yet, thanks to technology, disruption will also have a very positive face, as health services will also become more humane, reintroducing a level of empathy that almost disappeared from the field of medicine in the last century. In the area of devices we have gone from heavy and very expensive laptops with computing capabilities that would be considered ridiculous by today’s standards, to extremely powerful handheld computers, smartphones, tablets, wearable devices… and this process is continuing with the ever increasing levels of miniaturization and affordability. We are now reaching a point where medical devices are becoming so small that, in some cases, they are designed to be swallowed!  Pervasive health data collection, and the leveraging of big crowd-sourced data sets to inform perform personalized health screenings will have a great impact by allowing the identification of patterns, cyclical repetitions and large-scale correlations that will allow to predictively alert people of potential health conditions on the horizon with a great probability of accuracy.

Digital transformation can also have an impact on the medical profession and the role of physicians in a multitude of ways. Some would go as far as saying that doctors will eventually almost “disappear”, because many of the activities currently being performed by them will soon be carried out by software or processes integrated in the healthcare continuum; this being amongst one of the top topics of discussion for those in the healthcare industry attempting to predict a vision of what its future holds.

In the author’s vision, digital transformation will instead allow the physician to go back to a much more holistic approach in the practice of medicine, and have the ability to interact with patients on a more human and empathic level, thanks predominantly to having more available to spend with them, having been freed from the bureaucratic and administrative burdens that todays’ doctors are obliged to devote most of their attention to.

In today’s training of new doctors, it would be wise to introduce a new curriculum grounded in digital health technological topics and courageously eliminate or reduce the training norms on subjects that are already outdated by the time the new doctor is entering practice. This digital transformation will also affect the patient support staff: the nursing profession will be equally impacted by this evolution, as they will be playing a significantly larger role than the one it performs at present.

Digital health will be the catalyst making systemic optimization and change possible and sustainable, creating enormous efficiencies on all the different processes. The application of innovative solutions will disrupt the endemic inefficiencies of today’s healthcare industry, improve overall standards of care, increase access to it by nearly universal levels and, most importantly bring the human aspect of health back into a central role.

Throughout the chapters there are practical examples of applications, companies, or start-ups that have changed, are changing and will change our relationship with health. These examples are from both the United States and Europe.

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