Being at the innovator’s edge, Infermedica's team is curious and we're observing global trends on Digital Health Adoption which deserves your undivided attention.
1. Health is becoming popular amongst research scientists
Health was a popular topic in 2016 with seven of the 11 most-discussed scientific studies of 2016 focusing on health. This inevitably triggered public discussion on a variety of health-related subjects (Source: Pew Research).
2. Global internet usage is growing
In the United States, 88% of adults use the internet. Among young adults aged 18-29, that number rises to 99% (source: Pew Research). There are similar trends in other continents with more than 50% of the world’s (3.8 billion) population being connected to the Internet. In Europe, there are 637 million internet connected users (76%) and with the recent slashing of European-wide Data-roaming fees, this should get even higher! And how about other continents? 7 of the 10 fastest growing internet populations in the world are in Africa with the number of users reported in Ethiopia more than tripling versus the numbers we reported last year (Source: We are Social)
3. People buy insurances online
In the spring of 2008, 4.32 million US consumers bought insurance online. In 2015 that number tripled to 12.41 million (source: Centric Digital). Even though this only covers a small percentage of the total US consumer with purchasing power, the increase is a unprecedented feat.
4. Healthcare Professionals are networking online
Digital health adoption spreads among doctors. LinkedIn for Doctors - Doximity - is already used by over 500,000 healthcare professionals, meaning that more than half of US physicians use the service as a secure platform to discuss medical topics with their peers (sources: Techrepublic, Doximity).
5. Patients in the UK want their health information. Quick.
According to digital health statistics, 75% of the UK population goes online for health information. In the EU, 48% look for health information online, which is an incredible difference from 16%, ten years before (sources: Deloitte, Eurostat). This explains why Health Chatbots are gaining traction globally, especially when you consider that Amazon is spearheading an Alexa Diabetes Challenge.
6. Digital health apps are going mainstream through mobile
In 2013, the global mHealth market was valued at $2.4 billion, and has been forecast to reach $21.5 billion by 2018. (source: Deloitte) Despite the fact that a significant the the innovation focus is shifting towards artificial intelligence, mHealth still has a very crucial role to play.
7. The majority of the US population don’t mind uploading personal health information
52% of people surveyed in the US in 2015 find it acceptable to share their health stats by uploading personal health records to their doctor’s office website. (source: Pew Research)
8. Electronic Health Records are still time-consuming for Doctors
For every hour that US physicians provide direct clinical face-time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours are spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day. On top of that, healthcare professionals spend 1-2 hours on clerical work in their free time, which adds up to 4 hours spent on paperwork per day. (source: Annals of Internal Medicine)
9. The majority of Americans own a smartphone
As of November 5th, 2016, 77% of Americans owned smartphones – up from 35% in 2011 (source: Pew Research). Despite the fact that there are 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally and estimated 6.1 billion by 2020 (Source: Ericsson Mobility Report), we still have hospitals around the world dragging their feet in creating mobile solutions for their patients and healthcare professionals.
10. US Millennials would like to manage their health on a smartphone
71% of US millennials would be interested in a doctor giving them a mobile app to help them to actively manage their well-being, e.g. preventive care recommendations, access to health records, or appointment scheduling possibilities. (source: Triple-Tree)
11. Wearables are stepping it up
FitBit, the wearable device that tracks your daily steps, launched in 2015, is currently trading 50% above its initial public offering and has grown to $6 billion in market capitalization (source: Appitized Health). Need to say more?
12. The doctor’s office is changing address
60% of US millennials are interested in telehealth options (e.g. video chat with doctor) so they won’t have to come to the office for an appointment. (source: Triple-Tree). When you consider that 99% of young adults aged 18 to 29 in the US use internet, that doesn’t sound so surprising.
13. Human-led insurance claim processing is expensive
In the US, an insurance claim requiring human intervention costs about $4 to process, as compared to about $1 for an auto-adjudicated claim costs. Approximately 3 billion healthcare claims are filed each year. (source: Healthcare Financial Management Association)
14. Consumers want to be healthy, connected and informed
In 2015, 71% of US consumers used Online Health Information, 50% gave Online Health Reviews, 17% used Mobile Health Tracking, 12% used Wearables, 7% took advantage of Genetic Services and 7% used Telemedicine. (source: RockHealth)
15. Investors are putting their money in a healthy future
In 2016, Digital Health funding totaled $4.2 billion in 304 deals in the US (source: RockHealth). Even more recently, the first half of 2017 set a record with seven $100M+ mega deals, including the two largest digital health deals on record (RockHealth) and this doesn’t even include Roche’s purchase of mySugr (Reuters Health)
16. Automation is a key
An unsurprising 48% of US healthcare executives report extensive use of automation for IT tasks and customer interactions (source: Accenture). Shifting demographics put undue pressures on health systems which create an opportunity for automation to play a crucial role in taking over tedious tasks which recently would have been done by a large group of workers.
17. Telemedicine and remote monitoring is reinventing the way we manage chronic illnesses
In the US, $2 billion can be saved annually with a long-term illness management model that includes an annual exam by a physician and technology-enabled self-management the rest of the year (source: Accenture). Diabetes is one of many of these long-term illnesses. Imagine, from 1980 to 2014, the number of people suffering from diabetes has more than tripled from 108 to 422 million (WHO). Technology starts to sound sustainable with such incredible numbers.
I think that now is the right time, more than ever, to rethink the way we look at Digital Health and start understanding the positive and incredible opportunities that lie within this field. I envision a world where we won’t even realize that technology is there and that the focus would be on the human connection, which is therapeutic in itself. Until we get there, we’ve got a lot of work to do.