Digital Health: The (not so) new form of care in the field of health that is here to stay.

Digital Health: The (not so) new form of care in the field of health that is here to stay.

Today I want to touch on a topic that has advanced over the years, and it seems that with the pandemic it became a catalyst for its implementation. These are technological advances in health. At first, it was known as E-Health, later as Health Technology, and I would say that the concept is already being consolidated as “Digital Health”.

 

Participating in several conversations with companies, entrepreneurs, regulators, and biomedical development promotion agencies in the digital space from different parts of the world, I have concluded that more and more people are more open to the possibility of having health benefits within a digital context. This is still not 100% possible, but I am sure that if there is some big technology company that can take over a person’s health care through digital tools, it is possible that they can get a large percentage of the market very quickly.

 

One of the reasons why this phenomenon has occurred is that people seek more flexibility in services and adjust them to their lifestyles. For example, in many cases having a face-to-face consultation is no longer necessary. With the use of digital channels, this is possible and without the need to travel to different places to have a medical consultation.

 

The penetration of health information technologies has manifested itself in several dimensions. For example:

 

– Hospital administration software, which optimizes and monitors the activity of each of its patients to improve their services and care.

– Telemedicine, which during the pandemic became increasingly common, and more secure.

– More recently, digital health aimed at behavior change in mental health, well-being, sleep and addictions. All these aspects can be intervened en masse with digital tools and at the same time have a quality similar to that of face-to-face interventions.

– Women’s health has also been affected by these tools, for example with period and menstrual cycle monitoring systems and even reports of hormonal states.

 

As I mentioned before, information technologies are increasingly present in people’s health, and today they can even prevent diseases. For example, there are “wearables” connected to an app that, if they detect variations in heart rate or respiratory rate and you are not exercising, send an alert.

 

They can also be used to detect ailments or diseases early, especially those related to images, such as taking photos of your skin and that they can detect any change that may be significant.

 

On the other hand, they contribute to enhancing the capacities of doctors or nurses. Robots that help to operate, mechanical arms that can make turns or movements that our anatomy does not allow, precision lasers, among many others.

 

Going to a more technical aspect, there are the ‘omics’ that integrate many parameters, using the power of computers, but analyzing data, which have their origin in biology.

 

This is no longer a space just for Biotechs, Big Techs are moving in with force and taking dominant positions. Some of the health initiatives of the technological giants during 2021 have been the following:

 

– Facebook: It is working on a smartwatch that will contain a monitor for the heart

– Apple: Launched new Fitness+ programs for pregnant women, seniors, groups that are often overlooked in fitness.

– Google: Launched its first medical device, Derm Assist: an app that helps dermatologists diagnose skin conditions.

– Amazon: Signed deals with several companies for its Amazon Care on-demand health service and launched AmazonDx.com to the public.

 

Although this digital environment can be very comfortable, patients want to continue to have a personalized treatment, which will be a challenge to achieve in the event that the “machines” are the ones that are in charge of many of these processes. Therefore, there must be an approach that seeks to strengthen the bond and generate a more secure, direct and instantaneous communication between the health provider and the patient.

 

The fact that many processes migrate to the digital environment does not mean that we have to become more and more “addicted” to a cell phone, to keep track of our state of health, in fact, what we want is to depend less on the device, without sacrifice the ubiquity of its services. An enigma that has not yet been solved.

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