US consumers continue to take a more proactive role in personal and family healthcare decisions. The convergence of consumer values and technological developments is creating a new type of patient—the e-patient. What will the future of the “instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent” health-monitoring environment look like? What is emerging at the device and application level?
3 KEY FINDINGS
- Connected health devices will impact well care, diagnosis, and disease management.
- The healthcare ecosystem will include monitoring devices, a network of connected hardware and software, and online information.
- Usability, interoperability, analytical capability, privacy, and safety will be essential for success.
Digital health monitoring is developing in the context of the emerging e-patient. Factors most relevant to the development of digital health monitoring technology include:
- Controlling cost and meeting a rising need. Consumers and payers, especially the government, are highly motivated to control healthcare costs. Aging, especially in World 1, is creating more need for health monitoring technologies and services. Global economic and societal shifts in World 2 countries are leading people to adopt Western diets and activity levels, and creating more people with chronic conditions that may benefit from health monitoring.
- Taking advantage of technical feasibility. Advances in technology are making it feasible to create an interconnected ecosystem of health monitoring hardware and software. The spread of mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablet computers) and broadband and/ or mobile Internet access are providing the basic infrastructure for this health-monitoring ecosystem. Sensors are becoming less expensive and the “app store” model of software development is creating a multitude of specialized, health-focused applications.
- Leveraging social networks. Social networks provide new possibilities for peer support and the dissemination of health information from the medical community.
3 BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS
- As new cohorts of consumers and patients adopt digital health monitoring, there will be competition between consumer electronics companies and medical device companies for leadership. Consumer electronics companies arguably have a deeper understanding of consumers, more experience creating brand loyalty and designing for usability, and a large consumer base from which to build. Medical device companies have experience in the payer-dominated purchasing environment, better linkages to healthcare providers, and more experience with regulators.
- The advent of the e-patient and of digital health monitoring greatly expands the list of participants in the healthcare arena to include consumer device makers, Internet search providers, and social networks, for example. The increased complexity of the system also includes the various agencies responsible for regulating these organizations. It is possible that regulations, or difficulty cooperating between industry sectors, or both, could become rate-limiting factors in the growth of the digital health- monitoring ecosystem.
- Success in the digital health monitoring space may go to those organizations that can form the most complete and effective partnerships among actors with complementary skills.