7 key trends in digital health for 2022
Health and healthcare in the 21st century are inseparable from technology. This medical tech – or medtech – ranges from new vaccine platforms and AI-based treatments to lab equipment and CT scanners, all improving the quality of healthcare. In most cases, physical and digital care meet and combine for the ultimate experience. With the rapid development of medical tech, more and more can be accessed right from our homes and on our phones. Healthcare is becoming personal through technology.
In this blog post, you’ll discover 7 key trends in digital health for 2022. Some of them relate to making healthcare available digitally. Platforms like BetterHelp, Headspace, and Onlinedoctor.com are key examples of this.
Other trends strive to use technology as a relief for uncomfortable matters like dentist appointments and glucose monitoring. All these trends give us more power in how we want our health journey to be and the changes we want to make.
Medical research: how the Apple Watch is revolutionizing clinical studies, data, and analysis
Apple is changing the way large-scale medical research gets conducted with one of its products, the Apple Watch. Over the years, this device has evolved into a lifesaving companion for millions of people. Functions range from fall detection and heart rate monitoring to anticipated features like identifying an expected panic attack. These innovations are the result of Apple’s revolutionary way of conduction health studies in the medtech space. For this, the iPhone manufacturer teams up with world-renowned universities. Studies aim to find new ways to improve the watch while simultaneously delivering insights on various health-related topics. The groundbreaking aspect of all of this is that every user, who wants to, can participate.
ResearchKit and the accompanying research app can be downloaded by anyone with an iPhone and Apple Watch. If the user meets the requirements for the study, he/she can participate right away. This is an innovative way of conducting large-scale studies without the hassle of recruiting all the participants. Most importantly, these studies improve both the Apple Watch and its wearer and increase the gathered data.
In 2017 and 2018, researchers at Stanford worked together with Apple to conduct the Apple Heart Study on the detection of atrial fibrillation. Over 400,000 Apple Watch users participated and helped validate the ability of wearable technology to aid in the early detection of this condition. The study ultimately led to the availability of the irregular rhythm notification that is now on the Apple Watch.
Currently, Apple is working on studies concerning Women’s health, hearing issues, and COVID-19.
“Research[Kit] is going to transform medical research.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Digital dentistry: Invisalign and the iTero 3D scanner
The dentist is seen by many as a scary uneasy place where they’d rather not spend too much time. To straighten teeth, patients go through a lengthy process with different consultations and end up with a mouth full of metal wires and brackets. Invisalign and its medical technology are changing that process. Being assisted by industry-leading tech, the journey towards a new smile has never been more comfortable and accessible. This improvement is courtesy mainly of the iTero scanner. A 3D scan of a person’s teeth is made, mapping out the current situation and improvement areas, and ultimately a digital rendering of their future smile. Invisalign is further simplifying the process by having a clear and easy-to-use website where potential patients can immediately start the journey.
To see how this technology and new smile reach the masses, check out the case study done by NEXTRDAY in the consumer experience of acquiring Invisalign.
Mental Health: take a moment for a Headspace
Mental health has long been neglected as a ‘real’ health problem. Things are slowly changing as the topic is now more and more talked about. With artists and athletes recently speaking up, people are starting to take their mental state more seriously. COVID has forced people to spend time with themselves and got us to self-reflect more than ever. Stress and anxiety, in multiple forms, are common issues.
However, not everyone may have severe mental health issues where professional help is needed. That is where an alternative version of support comes in, enabled by digital technology: meditation apps.
The biggest and most popular example is Headspace. This app lets its users experience the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. There are countless different ways to wind down, with guided meditations or sounds that help you sleep better. Headspace focuses on breathing and scanning through the body to check how you feel in the moment. The service also offers workouts led by Olympians, some of whom spoke very openly about their mental struggles this year.
These meditation and mental health apps saw a 25% increase in downloads during the first COVID wave in March of 2020 and are seen as a key trend over the last two years. With more attention to mental wellbeing, these digital platforms will continue to play a vital role in people’s daily life.
Remote care: healthcare from the comfort of your couch
In line with the developments in mental health mentioned above, this key trend in digital health for 2022 also aims to lower the bar for help. This time it is about professional digital health services. Whether you are hesitant to go to a real doctors’ office or live far away, the internet helps everything get closer. Alternatives to in-person visits are services that provide online doctors’ appointments and digital health checkups or online therapy. These aim to make the experience for both the patient and the health care provider easier.
Onlinedoctor.com highlights different platforms and doctors that you can consult. The most significant perk of this format is the ability to choose what best suits you regardless of location. Consultations take place via live connection, and questions can be asked via messages. Another bonus to online appointments is the reduced wait time. Organizing virtual meetings can be a tremendous time-saver and give patients peace of mind knowing that a doctor is just a at on a device of their choice.
Even more daunting than a doctor’s appointment for many is starting therapy. The vast majority of people may not know much about it or think it does not suit them. For this, there are also online options. Platforms like Betterhelp and Talkspace both offer on-demand online therapy. What makes these services stand out is that they are way more convenient and affordable than traditional therapy. You can reach out to your assigned therapist any time of the day via a message. This approach allows the user to describe how they feel at that exact moment and what they are struggling with. Planning a phone- or video conversation lets the patient be flexible and save time. Also, these services are considerably cheaper than traditional therapy. Betterhelp’s costs range from €50 to €70 a week. Compared to a standard therapist that charges the on an hourly basis, that could pose a significant cost saving opportunity.
Both these online health services offer the patient comfort, ease of use, and assurance.
“Effective use of technology is important to deliver healthcare. By leveraging technology, you can bring down lack of access and cost of healthcare.” – N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys