Fueled by urgent pandemic-related needs, the future of health and wellness is being shaped by factors ranging from emerging technologies and new apps to accelerated changes in behavior. Within weeks, patients and doctors adopted innovations such as telehealth, wearable tech, and mindfulness apps. Along the way, they have come to expect as commonplace more flexible, easy to use, and personalized digital health experiences.
Our view is that rising demand for improved access to care, control, results, and hyper-efficacy will dominate the health care landscape in 2022. Amid this backdrop, we see three digital health care trends that we believe are worth keeping a close eye on this year.
Mental health apps go mainstream
Mental health issues have taken center stage. Since the pandemic began, about 40% of US adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, up significantly from just 10% in 2019. And technology is changing how we deliver digital self-care experiences for behavioral health patients including expanded options for mindfulness, depression, and anxiety care.
Consumers can choose from among thousands of digital therapy, meditation, and mental health self-care apps. Mindfulness apps such as Headspace, Calm, Talkspace, and Betterhelp are easy to access and integrate into daily routines. Many are free or inexpensive. Requiring minimal effort, the apps can provide an enjoyable experience, and they can be effective. These readily-available and potentially life-changing solutions typically are more resistant to pandemic-related disruption than traditional talk therapies and can easily supplement or enhance professional mental health treatment.
As a silver lining to the pandemic, behavioral and mental health considerations such as prevention, early detection, and effective treatments are becoming more acceptable and mainstream. And as this blog post suggests there is still a need for a more holistic view of workforce mental wellness and potential changes needed for expanded health benefits.
Patient-generated health data reaches a turning point
Whether from devices such as an Apple Watch® (Apple Watch is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.), Whoop Band, or Oura Ring, patient-generated health data is helping people monitor heart rhythms, sleep patterns, blood pressure, and breathing rate. This granular data tracks calorie expenditure, exercise, stress, healthy posture, poor sleep quality, cognitive decline, and even early warning signs of infection and inflammation. Did your body temperature spike? Maybe you need to slow down and relax. Not sleeping well? Consider your late-night food or alcohol intake.
Soon, global health guidance, such as exercise more and consume fewer calories, may target a sample size of one. Recommendations could be tailored to your biological makeup, age, lifestyle, and even insurance coverage. Wearables and the data they generate allow people to be more engaged with their health and make behavioral changes that maximize their wellness and quality of life.
Personalized health care becomes connected
The ability to connect the entire personalized health care ecosystem can help providers to deliver better outcomes. From smart hospitals to decentralized, patient-centric models built on data sharing, IoT is connecting doctors, insurers, family, wearables, and caretakers to better manage care delivery for patients.
Establishing a connected health care ecosystem often requires leveraging AI, medical IoT, remote monitoring, and other new technologies to deliver care that is more accurate, efficient, and transparent. AI can use algorithms and machine learning (ML), for example, to analyze and interpret patient-generated data and deliver personalized experiences—as well as automate repetitive and expensive health care procedures. Health care professionals who refuse to keep pace with these developments eventually will likely be forced to adapt due to pressure from patients who demand more. If patients can use self-generated health care data to identify an area of concern and receive care from a virtual meeting with a physician’s assistant, they may no longer need to see their doctor in person.
With patient-generated data and resulting analysis, patients can be empowered to make decisions about their health in sync with providers and insurers, even clinical trial teams, for the best possible outcomes. What are the key considerations for this connected ecosystem? All data flow should be secure, private, and confidential and data access and movement should be actively managed and controlled.
This post was written by Paul Silverglate, partner, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and vice chair and Technology Sector leader, Deloitte U.S., and Neal Batra, principal, Life Sciences and Health Care, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
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