An end-to-end, omnichannel health care experience that relies on technology- and data-driven resources to facilitate proactive and holistic interventions and management at scale. Digitally enabled health care inherently advances adjacent goals business leaders across the health care industry share.
Many health care leaders believe Covid-19 created opportunity for health care to become digitally enabled by changing legacy incentives that limited health technology adoption and creation. Their arguments are twofold:
Many leaders believe this shifting adoption landscape creates a large and growing market for new digital health companies to increase their market share in care delivery. Investors clearly agree, pouring $29.1B into digital health companies in 2021, compared to just $8.2B in 2019. Sustained funding at these levels, they believe, will increase the stock of innovative virtual care tools that come to market, furthering health care’s trend toward digital enablement. In time, health care will transform to become a digitally enabled enterprise.
Innovators in digital health indeed are enjoying newfound tailwinds supporting demand for their products. And many have provided a proof-of-concept for what digitally enabled health care could look like. Nonetheless, we believe it is dangerous for industry leaders to view current trends in digital health investment and adoption as a true victory in the pursuit of holistic, equitable, and cost-effective digital care for the majority of patients.
Excessive optimism is dangerous because the stakes are high. As Covid-19 helped demonstrate, health care business models, from staffing to payment to site of care distribution, are strained. Shifting from legacy business models to digitally enabled ones could enable sustainability where traditional approaches have failed. Three challenges particularly stand out to us for the role digital innovation could play in addressing them:
1. Promoting health equity: How can digital health help reduce disparities in care delivery, and ultimately, outcomes?
2. Caring for an aging population: What technologies can help reduce cost of care for the Baby Boomer generation as it ages into Medicare?
3. Advancing value-based care: What tools do clinical and operational leaders need to succeed under risk-based payment models?
We believe addressing these and other challenges require creation and adoption of digital tools that meet two requirements:
1. In their design, they are scalable, holistic, and targeted at the most complex, high need patients; and
2. In their adoption, they are widespread enough to be accessed by a large majority of patients.
Innovative organizations indeed are designing digital tools that satisfy the first requirement. Asynchronous monitoring and care management platforms, for example, enable clinicians to make smarter and faster patient care decisions without needing to see each patient in real time. Yet scalable innovations like asynchronous care are not representative of all emerging digital health tools. Many organizations continue to advance tools that fall short in three ways:
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