In the United States, information and communication technologies are making increasing inroads into the health sector. The federal government is playing an essential role in encouraging health professionals to adopt the new digital tools.
Given the soaring cost of healthcare in the US, administrators and healthcare professionals have been forced to rethink the way their industry works. A report published by GBI Research* revealsthat the new technologies are seen not only as a useful channel for engaging with patients but also as a means of actually coordinating patient care, making it more effective, especially in the treatment of chronic illness. Healthcare players are increasingly using technologies, coupled with the associated collaborative methods, in order to ensure that medical treatment is effective, and they are investing heavily in these areas. This confirms the view expressed in another recent article - Digital Health Investment Picks up Pace - apparent in the increasing numbers of players in the sector and the number of dedicated incubators, such as HealthXL and HealthBox. According to the GBI research report, the US government is a major driver of these investments in digital health tools.
Improvingdata sharing and coordination in care delivery
The US healthcare industry is carrying out reforms designed to redraw the healthcare landscape, putting the emphasis on giving patients access to medical data and improving patient engagement in their own care. Major investments have been made into developing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other technological advances that enable healthcare professionals to access and share data. The increasing use of mobile technologies and social networks provides an opportunity for the health industry to engage with patients and provide better overall support. This should certainly help the industry to treat patients with chronic illness more effectively, an urgent necessity given that US national expenditure on healthcare has now surpassed 17% of Gross Domestic Product,with the treatment of chronic disease dominating this spend. In addition, such investment is likely to improve interaction between patients and their doctors.
The role of government
The US department of Health and Human Serviceshas now mandated technology adoption by the healthcare providers. The 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provides for innovation grants and incentives and lays down penalties. Technological advances have already demonstrated the difference they can make to improving patient adherence to prescribed treatment and medication regimens when patients themselves become more involved in their own care through EHRs, e-prescriptions and mHealth apps. Industry players in general have also understood the potential for collaboration which these tools offer, and the rapidly increasing cost burden is moreover forcing US health insurance providers to leverage technology and collaboration.
*Patient Adherence, Communication and Engagement (PACE) - Increased Investment and Adoption of New Digital Tools Enable Key Stakeholder Collaborations and Encourage Compliance