Why is digital so important for the future of healthcare?

January 2020

Healthcare is shifting from an episodic and reactive industry to an area that's more continuous and proactive. The fast-changing pace of health-related technology is already having a positive impact on the NHS, although the rate of take-up and benefits of digital health are unevenly distributed throughout the population.

McKinsey & Company's international survey reports that more than 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future, however only 24% (13.9 million people) in England are registered for online services currently (Health Education England, 2018).

The practice of digital health allows for the better monitoring of disease progression, general health tracking, and supports the standardisation of work, which can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and patient and professional safety. By innovating in digital health and care we can reduce inefficiencies in the delivery of care, improve quality and access fo care, reduce costs, make health services more person-centred and personalise medicine for a patient's unique needs.

Many patient-facing digital health products assist patients to improve outcomes through behaviour and lifestyle changes, either on their own or in conjunction with an existing treatment plan. Across the spectrum of healthcare, we can now see more people who want access to better care, access to personal health records, and transparency of costs. Patients who have regular access to their own health information via an app or online (instead of through their doctor) will have a better understanding of their own well-being and be more engaged in self-care descisions - they will be able to better understand the cause and effect of their behaviours on their mental and physical health.

While digital technology is used to focus on the individual patient care, it offers the tools and accessibility to tackle the wider issue of population health. Over the past decade, the rise of digital health, alongside healthy living campaigns, has produced more health-conscious advocates and empowered clinicians and patients. This shift has given the industry the opportunity to build new models of care and to respond to new demands from patients, clinicians and other service users. With this in mind, the digital health landscape must adapt quickly to provide regulated and non-regulated tools and platforms, in order to make the user feel satisfied, safe and mindful about their care pathway.

As we look towards the future of digital health and the patient-centric experience, we look to a health service without walls. Only those with complex needs and surgical procedures will require hands-on human expertise. Are you ready?