5 Digital Health Topics Trending Right Now:

by Kate Rodgers | March 13th, 2017

Imagine sitting down at your next, dreaded doctor’s appointment, and having your physician walk in and hand you a virtual reality head set before you undergo your procedure.

It may seem crazy, but many of the digital health technologies that are pushing the boundaries of traditional healthcare are a bit crazy in their own way. Virtual Reality has been shown to aid in pain management in healthcare patients, and is only one example of how the line between consumer and healthcare technologies is more frequently being blurred.

While at the Digital Med Tech Conference two weeks ago in San Francisco, BioForward had the opportunity to hear from a variety of digital health experts, including Verily Life Science’s CMO, Jessica Mega, MD, MPH, on what’s trending in the continuously growing digital health/health IT/digital medical technology industry. Here are the five hot trends in the digital health industry you need to know about:

1. Thinking Like the Patient and Physician: Behavioral Science’s Role in Digital Health

A general consensus among all of the speakers was that taking behavioral science into consideration when developing your technology and its work flow is essential to creating a successful product. Many of the panelists who were also physicians stressed that technologies that are useful but do not make the physicians or patients life easier will most likely not be used.

Ben Hawng, Ph.D, CEO of Profusa, summarized this idea seamlessly by breaking it down to a two-step process for physician adoption of a digital health technology. First, making the technology part of the physician’s existing work flow and secondly, showing the physician that the data is valuable to them. The same two steps can be kept in mind while also considering patient adoption that will last.

2. Keeping Health Data on Lock:

Digital health has a special suite of security challenges most industries don’t face such as keeping up with HIPAA compliance and being able to securely collect, transfer, and analyze patient and health data. With cybersecurity being a worldwide concern, speakers consistently reinforced the fact that having a technology that is highly cyber secure will give your company the competitive edge, preventing costly data breaches before they happen.

3. Smart Technologies & Artificial Intelligence:

Artificial intelligence continues to trend across multiple industries, but digital health is using it to take their health technologies to the next level by making them smarter. Artificial neural networks are being used for image recognition, with digital recognition often outperforming humans, in medical imaging and diagnosis. This type of cognitive learning provides health care organizations an opportunity to increase scale, speed, and consistency. Ultimately, this application of the technology allows for what both patients and physicians want: more face time with their patients.

4. FDA Challenges and Keeping Up with Digital Health:

A panel on how the FDA is handling the challenges of regulating the amount of digital health technologies that are developing at record speeds proved to be one of the most informative. The Associate Director of Digital Health at the FDA, Bakul Patel, presented some of the FDA’s possible solutions to this problem including a ‘FDA pre-check’ and pre-approved regulatory development kit. Similar to the beloved TSA pre-check, FDA pre-check would allow companies to be pre-approved for part of the regulation process, so once the digital health technology is ready to begin the approval process it will be expedited.

5. Digital Health as a ‘Risky’ Business:

Every conference has a buzz word, and to our surprise ‘risk’ happened to be the hottest word amongst the panels. Risk had been applied to many of the above topics including patient-risk when implementing a technology, regulation-risk within the FDA managing a new world of health devices, and investment-risk for those who are putting their eggs in the digital health basket. Digital health was also framed as a way to reduce risk in relation to patient admissions, ultimately saving insurance companies and healthcare systems money on costly re-admissions of recovering patients.

Interested in learning more and connecting with the digital health community in Wisconsin? BioForward will be hosting a digital health happy hour in Milwaukee this May that will continue into the summer! For more updates on the event and Wisconsin’s biohealth industry, follow BioForward on social media or join our weekly newsletter.