Understanding the goal of digital health
My 30-year-old son Matthew is autistic, and he loves going to the doctor. He loves it so much that he recently told me how much he was looking forward to his upcoming colonoscopy.
Matthew has advanced ulcerative colitis, which means many visits to the doctor, the lab, the infusion center and the hospital.
I’ll have to admit that the first time I heard the term “digital health” I was turned off. If digital health were to become a “thing”, would computer monitors, sensors, machines, and software platforms replace the warm smile and handshake of Matthew’s physician, Dr. Palascak?
The answer, of course, is no. But digital health tools could monitor Matthew’s health, and keep him out of the hospital.
“To deliver truly targeted, personalized care and foster meaningful health engagement,” says Raj Singh of Accolade, an on-demand healthcare company, “organizations need to harness the incredible power that lies in taking a blended approach to care management, with equal parts personal touch and technology. No matter how robust the data, cool the tools, or insightful the analytics, technology alone is not the answer.”
What is Digital Health?
Digital health technologies encompass a wide variety of tools, ranging from wearable sensors and portable diagnostic equipment to data-driven software platforms, telemedicine tools, and mobile health care apps. Together, they have the potential to help the U.S. health care system achieve five important goals:
- Helping patients become more engaged in their own care
- Closing communication gaps
- Identifying patients’ needs and tailoring services to meet them
- Enabling consumers to get care in convenient, cost-effective ways
- Improving decision-making by consumers and providers.
Digital health tools empower individuals to track, diagnose, manage, and improve overall health and well-being, including how to choose and access health care services.
Not all adults with developmental disabilities have the kind of access and fondness for going to the doctor that my son Matthew does. At the Special Hope Foundation, we are excited about the ways technology can benefit the lives and health of people with disabilities. Through our collaboration with USC Body Computing, we’re looking forward to the connecting great medical minds with innovators and funders to provide targeted, personalized care for people with disabilities.