How Digital Health Can Deliver On The ‘Triple Aim’ Promise

How Digital Health Can Deliver On The ‘Triple Aim’ Promise

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VP Digital Health Marketing at Itamar-Medical | Digital Health Expert | Business Growth Mentor | mHealth Israel | G-CMO 

There is no turning back. The transition to digital medicine is well underway and has been accelerated by the growing adoption of services like telemedicine. In a 2020 survey from the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, nearly seven in 10 healthcare professionals in urban areas said telemedicine has improved access to care, and nearly six in 10 said it has benefited their patients’ health.

Well, the proof is in the pudding. I believe last year’s $18.5 billion deal between Teledoc and Livongo marked the end of an era of digital health product pilots and the beginning of a new era of patient-centered models. The combination of a telehealth platform with a chronic-care management program likely stemmed from the understanding that consumers are looking for fast, easy, convenient and affordable access to real doctors. It also reflects a consensus that a personalized, cost-effective digital health program is important for scaling meaningful innovation in the delivery of care.

As consumers take the driver’s seat in 2021, healthcare tech leaders should optimize their strategies to deliver on the Triple Aim promise — access to care and better health at a lower cost.

From Product Pilots To Patient Solutions

I believe the understanding that tech could help solve a disconnected, fragmented healthcare system has prompted many entrepreneurs to harness digital health and digital therapeutics (DTx) to bring evidence-based diagnostics and therapies to populations living with chronic conditions. 

Research and Markets projects that the global DTx market will jump from $1.9 billion in 2019 to $5.67 billion in 2025. To realize their full potential, DTx companies should redefine their strategies and business models to move from what Ernst & Young notes is a product-centric approach toward patient-centricity across the entire continuum of care.

As I previously discussed, tech leaders know the software and data inside-out, but DTx likely can’t live up to its promise without paying proper attention to the patient-provider relationship. Not all patients will be loyal to software programs or remain self-motivated if no therapist is involved. 

Making Better Care At A Lower Cost A Reality

To take DTx to the next level, tech and business leaders should work with the relevant associations and evolve their products into DTx solutions with the appropriate accreditations. They should combine both human and digital interventions that are prescribed and managed by doctors under clear medical protocols. Therapists and coaches, under doctors’ supervision, could assign the right content, tools and journeys at the right time and with appropriate measures to ensure compliance. Also, as Ernst & Young discussed, “In order for DTx solutions to be covered and paid for within traditional reimbursement models, organizations launching these DTx solutions will require an evidence-based approach to demonstrate clinical, economic and ‘quality of life’ value.”

To me, patient-centered health means addressing patient comorbidities, interoperability between disciplines and the facilitation of ongoing therapies. It also means delivering convenient and efficient experiences. In today’s on-demand economy, companies should ensure that patients are able to easily make a digital appointment, plug in insurance information and quickly get connected to a doctor. They should be addressing wait times; using state-licensed, board-certified physicians; and ensuring they can help with a variety of medical needs and provide referrals/prescriptions without requiring patients to leave home.

Cloud-based telemedicine management solutions, including customizable telehealth applications, doctor scheduling, dashboards and reports, are helping make this vision a reality. Providers will likely also be anticipating secured, HIPAA-compliant communication channels, like video, audio and text messaging tools.

Building Health Systems

As the Wall Street Journal recently observed (paywall), measuring biomarkers (the “quantified self”) was once the occupation of “extreme athletes and extreme geeks.” With the rise of Fitbits and other wearables, that’s no longer the case. Many people use wellness products to measure their exercise, track their vitals and hold themselves accountable for their personal health goals. Yes, quantified-self behavior is becoming more and more important. But patient engagement and clinical sustainability goals rely on more. Biomarkers may not survive doctors’ standards without proven accuracy and reliability, and if doctors don’t adopt it, tech could have trouble delivering scalable and accepted solutions.

Going back to our case study: Teladoc focuses on telemedicine and providing virtual visits to patients in a variety of specialties. I believe this is beneficial for patient engagement and adherence to therapy. Livongo offers health-management programs for individuals with chronic conditions. This is important for patient personalization. I believe the merger could provide a one-stop shop for health care without losing clinician empathy, therapy quality, cost-effectiveness, doctor reputation and patient experience.

Conclusion

Consumer-facing digital companies such as Amazon and Apple call it experience, while the Institute for Healthcare Improvement refers to it as the Triple Aim. In the end, it all boils down to the same basic concept in healthcare: improved access to better quality care at a lower cost.

If patients are committed to health and remain willing to share data, as I’ve discussed before, this could be a game-changing opportunity. But digital-only solutions may not work for all patients.

Instead of simply selling isolated products or digital solutions, health tech innovators should focus on patients’ unmet needs and how they can be addressed via the pathways of health.

They should focus their road maps on supporting excellent interactions between providers, physicians, therapists and their patients based on accurate medical data and cost-effective, empathic communications — as well as the efficient involvement of physicians, therapists and their technical teams. In my opinion, consumer trust, continuous willingness to share their data and their overall commitment will be measured against tech’s ability to facilitate closer patient-to-clinician loops with relevant insights on food, exercise, sleep, medication and easy access to known physicians and therapists — and that also follows medical protocol and is covered by their insurance — so marketing efforts should focus on these qualities.

While cash will likely continue to flow into digital health and consumers will be at the center of this revolution, it is time to use tech to aggregate the components of our healthcare system. The proof of the pudding will be an integrated, patient-centric experience across the healthcare system — an easy, convenient and affordable end-to-end continuum of care.


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