With many digital health companies involved in mergers & partnerships, and with a positive shift in the world of digital medicine and health, significant change is coming.
Robust digital medicine and health innovations, along with continued policy shifts in the healthcare sector are occurring and 2019 will bring about significant changes in health IT infrastructure with patient data being the main focus. A demonstration of the computational capabilities of digital medicine will be most significant for digital health companies, as that opens the door to a range of possibilities. Additionally, there will be a shift in emphasis as healthcare systems focus to leverage existing data to improve clinical and operational processes.
New focus on personal health data records in digital health
Digital health companies will begin to focus more on the following:
- Utilising AI and applying concepts in image processing, this will primarily be done through early stage machine learning for areas like radiology and dermatological lesions
- There will be a higher aim of improving physician engagement
- Hospital EHR deployments outside the US will increasingly follow in its footsteps by including evidence-based clinician decision support tools linked to CPOE (computerized physician order entry) and care management
- Integrated delivery networks (IDN) will increasingly implement pathways, including treatment selection and care coordination, to reduce unwarranted variation of care
- Boundaries between patient-led, home-based self-care and physician-led outpatient care increasingly blur, so these personal health logs will merge with primary care decision support tools in new and uniquely challenging ways
- Through data liquidity and third-party app integration with EHRs, there will be a refinement of clinical evidence based on clinical data captured through care delivery.
Personal health data stores are likely to increase in light of a new digital medicine age
Patients as consumers will take control of and store their personal health and clinical data in applications of their choice in the cloud. In light of the new digital medicine wave, companies such as Apple have made notable progress with concepts such as HealthKit, and Microsoft has revived Health Vault. Even in privacy conservative Germany, a large group of insurers, hospital chains and industry partners are finally cooperating (e.g. Vivy). For patients in Denmark and Estonia, this has already been in play with online access to health records through the national health systems.
In relation to oncology, there will be an increase in next generation sequencing (NGS) and more AI applications will take place in genomics. This will include refined genetic variants and subtypes leading to more precision medicine in treatment options.
Patient data from routine clinical practice (EHRs, radiology images, genomics) and personal health devices will also increasingly drive medical research. Precision medicine requires ever larger data sets and increasingly specific genomes for example, in the case of breast cancers). The difficulty lies in hospitals being discreet about sharing this data, as patient privacy is paramount.
However, the solution could potentially be found in IoT technology; allowing sophisticated distributed analytics on site so that the data never leaves the virtual walls of the hospital.