‘If patients want to have access to digital health options, they will need to demand access to these tools’
NEW YORK – As the co-founder and CEO of telehealth company TytoCare, Dedi Gilad believes a broader adoption of digital health will happen when consumers demand it. He said physicians can help this process by changing their own perceptions of how digital health will impact their practices. Read on for more of Gilad’s thoughts on the challenge of making digital health ubiquitous.
HHTN: What are some of the biggest challenges to a broader adoption of digital health?
Gilad: A key challenge is consumer awareness, though awareness and willingness to try telehealth are growing significantly. A recent survey by The Advisory Board found that 77% of patients want access to virtual care and telehealth, but many have reservations about the services, with the biggest concerns being quality of care and trust. Once consumers grow more aware that telehealth services are available to them with the same quality of care and diagnostic potential, the growing demand will encourage physicians to adopt digital health tools and services. Another obstacle is physician resistance to changing how they practice medicine and receive reimbursement. Health care has traditionally been slow to take full advantage of what today’s technology has to offer, typically preferring to see the impact before adopting. Thirty-four states now have laws requiring insurance plans to cover telehealth, which will help encourage adoption, but some clinicians still question whether or not a telehealth visit can replicate an in-person visit.
HHTN: What are some of the most important developments in digital health to date?
Gilad: Video technology has been an extremely important technological development enabling the growth of digital health. The ability to be seen by a doctor remotely set the digital health field on a path toward further innovation, and due to the advanced development of a variety of sensors, health care can now go beyond just video visits with a physician by providing consumers with medical-grade tools like an otoscope, stethoscope, thermometer and high-quality camera, allowing consumers to not only be seen by a physician, but to actually capture exam data from home and provide everything the doctor needs to offer a diagnosis remotely.
HHTN: What is the patient’s role in the delivery of digital health?
Gilad: If patients want to have access to digital health options, they will need to demand access to these tools from their providers to encourage wider adoption. This will require that consumers develop trust in digital health products and demand that quality health care be delivered to them in the home, when they need it. As consumers become more used to having many services available on-demand, they should make no exception for health care. As telehealth becomes more widely available and awareness increases, patients will be choosing health care providers based on whether they provide these kinds of services, and the shift toward more virtual care will take place in the industry.
HHTN: What do you think home health technology will look like in the next five years?
Gilad: We expect to see growing demand from consumers and increasing adoption by health providers of digital health tools that enable a certain level of health care to take place at home. This shift will improve convenience and access to quality care for consumers while easing the burden on health systems. Patients who are homebound or have travel constraints can now be given quality medical attention without leaving their homes. We envision a future in which patients and consumers in every home, school or office can use telehealth services to connect to the physician or specialist of their choice for services like remote exams, lab work and other tests like electrocardiograms and body scans. This technology already exists; it is just a matter time before we see more adoption. The continued adoption will depend upon both direct-to-consumer and provider-to-provider telehealth services, as more health systems begin to incorporate connected health solutions.