How technology is transforming health care
Editor’s Note: The following are key takeaways from our Insights webinar presentation, titled Let’s Get Digital: How Technology Is Transforming Health Care. Presenters Colleen Adams, Manager, Product Strategy & Digital Solutions, Medavie Blue Cross and Christy Prada, Vice President of Business Development, Maple, described the measurable difference that digital health is making for health outcomes and organizational performance.
Digital Health Defined
Digital health is the convergence of technology and health care to deliver health care services or to facilitate better health. It represents a broad and growing sector and can cover everything from wearable gadgets like Fitbits to continuous glucose monitoring, from mobile health apps to electronic medical records.
Digital health can also represent how a service is delivered in the case of virtual parapractitioners like physiotherapy – taking a service that was traditionally done in-person and taking it digital through the use of technology.
Perhaps the biggest player in the digital health space is virtual care, which offers the ability to connect with a health care practitioner directly from a mobile device for medical advice and treatment.
Importance of Digital Health
Digital health is important for several reasons. For an industry that is aimed at not only treating but preventing disease and helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions, digital health will play a key role in tailoring solutions to individual needs. This can result in earlier intervention and improved health outcomes - and reduced costs.
COVID-19’s Impact on Digital Health Adoption
COVID-19 has single-handedly played a key role in accelerating the acceptance of virtual care.
- Social distancing – people required health care at a physical distance from their providers.
- Exponential demand on the health care system – we needed new, scalable, accessible solutions for growing demand that made sense and had clear value.
Trends That Are Fuelling Digital Health
The trends that are fueling digital health are no different than the trends that are driving transformation in other industries: technology, consumerism and personalization.
Technology is enabling on-demand access to health care from anywhere. A simple app that is accessible on any mobile device or computer can connect members with a physician, nutritionist or mental health therapist. We are seeing the elimination of access to care barriers. Because of technology, geography, time of day and even stigma in some cases are no longer challenges to accessing care.
Consumerism is influencing the options members have at their disposal. Digital health takes a patient-centric approach that places the user at the core of the experience, giving them access to care when they want it. This can transform an employer's health benefit plan and place the purchasing power and decision-making in the hands of plan participants - enabling patients to become wholly involved in their health care decisions.
This also supports a 360° approach to health – complementing existing in-person care and urgent care solutions with virtual support for other, acute or maintenance health needs.
Personalization means delivering the right message at the right time all along the continuum of health. It means offering a health journey that is specific to a member’s needs and preferences. Virtual care prioritizes the user’s schedule by offering access with no wait times and linkage to complimentary services, like pharmacy for prescription pick-up or home delivery and the ability to build electronic medical record storage for continuity of care. It can even support chronic disease with tailored programs, access to specialties or curated information.
Leading Challenges Addressed by Digital Health Solutions
Digital health services are leading the modernization of plan design by offering flexibility, choice and proven, cost-effective solutions for employers.
5 generation workforce
Millennials represent the largest segment of the Canadian population and workforce. This digitally native audience requires digital tools and on-demand access. Virtual care meets the needs of this key demographic.
Virtual care significantly reduces some of the biggest barriers to accessing care – cost, convenience, and stigma. New digital health tools are constantly emerging like guided meditation and other apps that mean more options to support healthy minds.
Digital health can mean personalized care, early intervention, medication and condition support on demand for healthier members and plan savings.
65% of Online Doctor visits successfully prevent a workplace absence for an in-person visit to the clinic, giving employees more time to be healthy and productive.
Attracting and retaining talent
As the top driver of health and wellbeing initiatives, employers with strong digital health solutions will lead the pack.
Our Digital Health Solutions
We are integrating digital health solutions under existing benefits – as new benefits – and as complimentary services.
Connected Care: Digital Health Platform for members featuring preferred access to Online Doctors, Digital Therapy, Personalized Medicine.
Online Doctors Group Benefit: Direct access to a Canadian-licensed physician in minutes for diagnosis and treatment.
Member App: Drug adherence feature with medication reminders, location-based health professional search, notifications for new services or tools, connection to digital health platform
Disability Toolbox: Early intervention iCBT (internet-enabled cognitive behavioural therapy), pharmacogenetic testing, virtual rehab providers, virtual IMEs (individual medical exams).
Virtual Parapractitioners: Virtual services covered through traditional extended health benefit offering.
COVID-19 Bot: Interactive health screening tool with health navigation based on symptoms and region.
To see how technological advances and innovations are changing what is possible in health care, watch a recording of the Let’s Get Digital webinar here.