Fundamental connectivity lacking in many current digital health endeavors

Tools

One of the main problems digital health faces is the fundamental connection between user and device, Forbes contributor John Nosta argues in a recent post.

Nosta writes that it's easy for fitness enthusiasts and athletes to understand the connection, but says connectivity is imperative to realizing the true potential of digital medicine for all. The problems include:

  1. The initial patient connection: Digital health devices are marketed toward in-shape runners and young healthy types, while they also claim to be all about disease management, Nosta says. Meanwhile, he says, the "60-year-old man with hypertension and diabetes ... is still wearing a Timex."

  2. The disconnect between the healthcare provider and patient: The vast majority of healthcare providers don't understand digital health or use the technology, according to Nosta. "If healthcare providers don't live in the context of digital health, it becomes more a novelty than an important tool," he says.

  3. A combination of 1 & 2: Poor compliance. Patients will be eager to use a new digital health product, and then quickly lose interest due to a lack of compliance and adherence, Nosta says.

Experts speaking last month at FierceMobileHealthcare's executive breakfast, "mHealth's role in Patient Engagement," at the 2013 mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. agreed with Nosta, saying that while mobile technology may be the future of patient-centric care, better evidence is needed to take it to the next level.

Cleveland Clinic Chief Medical Information Officer David Levin said that technology shouldn't put more space between the provider and the patient. However, he added, all too often, it does.

"We imagine things that will actually change people's behavior, but we're often wrong," Levin said, harping that health IT is not usually designed with the patient in mind. "Good design takes into account human factors and what motivates people, and [what integrates] into and IT ecosystem."

Nasrin Dayani, executive director of AT&T ForHealth, AT&T Business Solutions, agreed with Nosta's notion that patients aren't complying with their devices well enough. She said that patients don't need incentives to use technology--they just need something useful.

"There's a big gap--how do we fix it?" Dayani asked. "Eighty percent of mHealth apps don't get used beyond one month ... they're not being integrated in workflows or being made part of the care delivery system."

To learn more:
- read the Forbes post

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