How Digital Health Continues to Shape the Future of Healthcare
What is digital health?
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) describes digital health as a means of “electronically connecting up the points of care so that health information can be shared securely”. While the concept of digital health is simple – the use of technology to help improve people’s health and wellness is a broad and growing sector.
When speaking about our recent research whitepaper, Dr Zoran Bolevich, Chief Executive and Chief Information Officer of eHealth NSW had this to say “The health industry is notoriously conservative (as it should be when you’re dealing with human lives), but the digital revolution in health has been a long time coming, and the younger doctors are all ready for it.”
It can cover everything from wearable gadgets to edible sensors, mobile health apps to artificial intelligence, robotic carers to electronic records. It is basically about applying digital transformation to the healthcare sector through innovative technology and cultural change.
Become part of the digital health transformation
The era of digital health seems to be well and truly underway. Health organisations all over the world are developing and implementing digital health strategies, and companies from start-ups to long-established players are beginning to promote digital health. The boom in digital health can somewhat be attributed to the rise in popularity with wearable devices such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit or Garmin.
Mr Richard Royle Health & Digital Health Advisor, KEL Health and former Chair of Australian Digital Health Agency “The future of Digital Health is pretty exciting, just to cross those three dimensions of patient-centeredness, AI and precision medicine.”
The emerging technologies used in healthcare such as Telehealth, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Health Informatics, Wearables, Robotics and other digital health initiatives are greatly transforming the way healthcare services are being delivered, which in turn is having a huge impact on the healthcare sector.
Like many of its technology company rivals, Google has a stake in the health-tracking wearables market through Google Wear and Fit. Since Google Health’s launch in 2008, they have invested heavily in artificial intelligence, even using it to identify signs of a particular eye disease from retina scans. Google’s parent company Alphabet didn’t just stop there, there also have numerous other projects including Project Baseline, a longitudinal study of human health and Calico which is aiming to understand the biology that controls lifespan.
As a result, new divergent career opportunities are emerging for doctors who wish to move beyond traditional medicine and who want to play a part in the digital health transformation.
According to our recent research project of over 800 participants – “The Changing Face of Clinical Careers”, 74% of doctors would consider a divergent career in medicine at some point in their career.
Why are doctors interested in alternative careers in digital health?
Today, there is no denying the benefits that digital health offers the healthcare sector. According to an AMA survey – physicians using telehealth has doubled since 2016, with nearly 30% of doctors adopting digital health technology. As technology continues to evolve this number will only increase but what are the main drivers for doctors?
Like many other areas of medicine, variety, reducing the risk of burnout and the flexibility to work remotely are some of the main reasons why physicians are adopting digital health tools.
However, according to our research – 42% of doctors indicated an interest in some form of Digital Health (Digital Health, AI/Machine Learning, Health Informatics and Telehealth), but only 15% stated having expertise in these areas.
This statistic provides a clear illustration of the need to provide opportunities for health professionals working across the healthcare sector to build their capabilities and expertise in digital health, as well as redesigning training programs to incorporate these skills,
Where from here?
We could go on and on but possibilities that these new technologies are creating are almost infinite. The vast repository of data that continues to grow by the day which helps with diagnosis, predicting outcomes and preventing potential ailments not only makes a doctors life easier but more importantly, gives patients peace of mind that they are in safe hands with the best care.
Telemedicine represents a sector-wide opportunity, that will also help address the high level of preference for remote practice highlighted in the survey. This sector also plays a major role in reducing geographic maldistribution across Australia. This theory has been backed by the sharp increase in Telehealth services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 4.3 million services being delivered to more than 3 million patients. More specific skills such as AI/machine learning will be of particular interest to certain disciplines, for example, those working in surgery and diagnostic roles
Dr Louise Schaper, CEO of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health sees the response to the pandemic as an example of how change can be accelerated: “During COVID-19, the healthcare industry globally has shown that it can adapt and change to improve patient care overnight. It has proved it will do whatever is deemed necessary to improve patient outcomes – that’s how we embrace innovation
Interested in exploring digital health career opportunities?
As we strive to be a thought leader in the digital health space, we have regular discussions with leaders, decision-makers and healthcare innovators about what the future might hold and what roles clinicians will play.
To learn more about the transferability of your medical skills, identifying training courses and understanding what opportunities are available to you within the medical technology and innovation sector, please get in touch today.