Challenges in the Use of Digital Health
Digital Health is the use of information and communication technologies in medicine and other health professions to manage illnesses and health risks, promote wellness and improve the quality of life. It includes a wide variety of technologies, including wearable medical devices, mobile health, telehealth, health information technology and telemedicine.
As the global healthcare system continues to grapple with the complexities of a growing population, the rapid development of new digital health tools and resources has the potential to increase access to care and reduce cost while also contributing to improved health outcomes. However, the field is still in its infancy and there are many issues that remain unresolved.
Inequality, equity and inclusion in the use of digital health are key challenges to be addressed. These are influenced by socioeconomic status, race and gender, as well as the cultural beliefs, practices and norms of individuals. It is critical to conduct research that identifies these factors and explores how they impact the use of digital health solutions in a manner that is inclusive and equitable.
Identifying and understanding the barriers to successful engagement with digital health tools and systems at the individual, provider and system levels will help inform the broader design of scalable and effective digital health platforms for use in a range of settings. This requires addressing the following issues: How to best define engagement (e.g., ), how to measure engagement at the individual and system levels, how to motivate engagement, and how to ensure that digital health tools are used in an unbiased and fair way by individuals across the entire spectrum of populations served (e.g., ).
Addressing a lack of access to digital health is another important consideration for ensuring that the tools are equitably designed and used in a way that benefits all members of the population. This may require developing a new approach to identifying and addressing the barriers to health and healthcare services that affect disadvantaged groups and creating more accessible solutions for delivering digital health products and services (e.g., ).
Digital health is a rapidly growing sector, attracting a lot of attention from investors and consumers alike. However, the investment bubble has burst in 2022 and it is not clear that there will be a recovery in funding for digital health startups.
As a result, many health system leaders and physicians are unsure of how to implement new technologies. In order to stay ahead of the curve, these professionals should be prepared to become familiar with these new technologies on a daily basis and be able to incorporate them into their work.
The health system is a large and complex organization, so it is vital to develop strategies for implementing and managing digital technologies in an ethical manner that protects patient privacy and maintains the integrity of personal data. This requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach to assessing the various digital health platforms and tools that are being developed.