By Michael Gorton, MS, JD, CEO and Founder of Recuro Health
The digital health ecosystem involves a host of concepts and technologies, including interconnected domains, health information systems, mobile health, telehealth and AI. These systems overlap and share interdependencies while creating unlimited challenges for the healthcare industry, including security and privacy concerns, robust and reliable infrastructure to manage data collection and access challenges for older Americans.
Success will hinge on effectively harnessing advanced technologies as the connected medical device market continues to advance. Research shows that 48% of all medical devices are connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), a number expected to grow by 20% in 2023. A truly connected and impactful healthcare environment must involve healthcare leaders, clinicians and digital health specialists working to forge closer ties with medical manufacturers and software application development companies.
To generate actionable information, connected medical devices and AI-integrated software application can provide a massive amount of data to employers, payers and providers, who require advanced architecture and data management systems to manage data collected from multiple sources. These systems must also be operational, tactical and strategic. Recuro Health, for example, offers a fully integrated portfolio of curated digital health solutions rather than simply products. This entails virtual care/behavioral telehealth, at-home and onsite lab testing and genomics.
If properly integrated, digital health solutions can elevate and enhance physician-patient relationships, go beyond low acuity, advance interaction across the entire care team and provide diagnostic, supportive data elements for accurate reporting.
The downside is that healthcare data raises concerns about cybersecurity. Data breaches have risen in the last decade due to malicious hackers. But security protocols can be set up and a centralized system built to manage and protect health information.
Bridging the Gap Between Systems
Today, organizations must understand the advantages of a small team of individuals working autonomously to own various process components that drive innovation at a faster pace. As the digital health market grows, this requires a bridge between current systems and new technologies. Therefore, leadership must identify champions and advocates for experimentation and collaboration who can establish and nurture relationships and partnerships to best serve patients in the digital world.
This requires a portfolio of digital health solutions that make it simpler for payers, providers, health systems and patients to find, support and implement digital innovations. It’s also important for the solution platform to be designed to scale for employee populations and generate meaningful measurement metrics. This is essential for improving medication adherence, treatment compliance and cost avoidance for value-based initiatives and for ensuring optimal care and reduction in hospitalizations and ER visits/readmissions.
Healthcare AI can aid cybersecurity and applications for surgery, nursing, healthcare organizations’ governance and structure. It can also help with clinical decision-making and predict clinical outcomes.
Fueled by the upsurge in virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote patient monitoring (RPM) gives patients access to at-home measurement devices, wearable sensors, phone apps, symptom trackers and patient portals to support self-care. It benefits every stakeholder to harness the untapped potential of RPM for assessing and monitoring patient health.
Telehealth and digital solutions also support patient compliance. Automated medication management tools, including timely reminders and convenient dispensers, helps older Americans remain in their homes and stay on track with their therapy. This is a critical factor for achieving better outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that non-adherence to medications causes 30-50% of chronic disease treatment failures.
Overcoming Challenges Among Older Americans
Making digital platforms more personalized and user friendly with focused outcomes is about more effective patient engagement. This is especially important for older Americans, who may be inexperienced with some digital applications. During the pandemic, telehealth use by older Americans skyrocketed, with 25% saying they had a virtual medical visit that included video and 91% stating that they found it easy to connect with their doctor.
But for many older Americans, digital devices are difficult due to small screens, hard-to-read typefaces, distracting backgrounds and poor captioning. This was particularly challenging for older adults with dementia (14% of those 71 and older), hearing loss (nearly two-thirds of those 70 and older) and impaired vision (13.5% of those 65 and older). For people with hearing issues, there can problems with devices that don’t regulate volume or allow for speech with impairments.
Going froward, effectivedigital transformation will require strategic partnerships to roll out new technologies, resolve issues, overcome connectivity/access issues and care barriers to hasten the shift from volume-based care to value-based care.
About The Author
Michael Gorton is an entrepreneur, mentor and strategic visionary. He has decades of experience building companies and contributing industry-changing ideas that innovate telecommunications and healthcare. As founding CEO, Michael leads Recuro Health with its deliver of integrated digital solutions that are transforming healthcare from a reactive model to a personalized virtual care system. The Texas Business Hall of Fame appointed Michael to its 2022 Board of Directors based on his entrepreneurial spirit and personal dedication to integrity and community leadership.