Top Trends that Make Digital Health a Must in 2019

Healthcare topped the economy as the number one issue for US voters in this last election cycle. With the slow chipping away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and constant threat of a complete repeal, healthcare, and how individuals are going to pay for it, remains top of mind among all Americans. One thing is clear: with over 3 trillion dollars spent each year on healthcare in America, opportunities to make healthcare more efficient and effective are critical.

While digital health has been around for a few years, the capabilities within digital health platforms have truly expanded in the last year. For this reason, in 2019 I believe digital health will be a must to both cut costs and improve overall health results. While the ACA is being debated, CMS continues to make strides in making digital health a centerpoint. Case in point, new rules and increased reimbursement in 2018 for digital health that enables remote support is now covered.

As clinicians start to use digital health tools to support individuals with chronic diseases, we are going to see a radical shift in how people are cared for in America and around the world. At Glooko, we’ve seen major strides being made in terms of the use of our digital health platform designed for people with diabetes and their care teams. We’ve run successful programs and have experienced strong growth, including having over 9000 clinic locations and over 2.2 million people with diabetes (PWDs) using Glooko.

I believe 2019 will be the first year that digital health goes mainstream as a bonafide way to deliver more proactive care at a lower cost. Below are the top healthcare trends for 2019 that make digital health a must.

In 2019, personalized medicine comes to digital health. Personalized Medicine is the concept that managing a patient’s health should be based on the individual patient’s specific characteristics. Pharma companies are using genetics and data to customize drugs and digital health companies are using a person’s behavioral data to make pointed recommendations on how do everything from taking the right dose of a medication to adjusting consumer medical device settings. In 2018 Glooko got FDA clearance for one such data driven, personalized (aka precision) medicine tool built on our digital health platform and are distributing in more broadly this year.

In 2019, doctors will amp up their use of digital health. While data shows that clinicians don’t know that digital health is a reimbursable service, in 2019, they will start to figure this out. As more large health systems and health insurance companies sponsor programs that are digital health driven, consumers create pull by increasing their use of digital health apps at home. In addition, as CMS continues to expand reimbursement  for telemedicine driven by digital health via CPT codes 99453, 99454, and 99457, clinicians will both see the benefits and start to get paid for remote patient monitoring. In 2018, Glooko increased use 9000 clinic locations globally, supporting over 2 million people with diabetes. These clinicians upload data from patient devices to use for insights during patient visits. They can also use the Glooko platform to view data when patients are home in-between visits. While most digital health companies focused solely on the consumer, Glooko’s research showed that connecting patients with clinicians remotely through digital health has an even bigger impact on health outcomes and user engagement. And now that clinicians will be paid for this engagement, I predict their usage will begin to increase this year and beyond.

In 2019, digital health means data science, for the good.  Recent news stories and research have pointed to the dangers of big data and analytics. Whether it be related to privacy, terrorism or even fraud, the dangers are real. That said, data science in health care, and particularly related to using data science to understand and support individuals better is an important trend for this year and beyond. At Glooko, we will be investing a lot in securely using data to provide more personalized insights to individuals and clinicians.  In the last 18 months, we’ve released features that take the trends we know of from the over 12 billion diabetes data points we have to hone in on specific insights about glycemic control and personal diabetes management for individuals. There are so many more things Glooko and other companies in the digital health space are doing to improve patient recommendations using data. In 2019, we plan to continue to use to data to optimize appointment time, provide targeted recommendations and content and to drive real results. Look out 2019, we in digital health are using data for good.

The big players continue to release digital health features making it easier, cheaper and more mainstream. And while this was a trend in 2018, more investment by the big players result in normalization of digital health among the billions of consumers that use products from the likes of Google and Apple. In 2019, smart pens for insulin delivery will expand and finally give millions of users the ability to better use insulin with improved insights and awareness as to how the medication can lead to improved outcomes. As the concept of the quantified self goes from science fiction to everyone, everyday (did you know that most of our smartphones automatically count our steps and track our activity?) 2019 will be the most historic year yet in making digital health more mainstream. Apple is busy releasing additional digital health features each time a new product or product version comes out. They have even hired over 50 doctors to determine what should be their next healthcare technology product. Google is also hiring an arsenal of executives, medical professionals and scientists to innovate in healthcare.

The prospects are great for 2019 in terms of healthcare technology and the impact it will have on lowering costs and improving outcomes. What do you think will come this year? Do you agree digital health will be more mainstream?