Dr John Halamka Outlines Trends in Digital Health

More and more, care is moving into the home with new tools and technologies that can monitor patients, but this raises the question of how to handle this new data, said John D. Halamka, MD, MS, of Beth Israel Deaconess Health System.

In the next 1 to 2 years, what trends do you expect to see in digital health?
So, I never forecast much more than, say, 6 quarters, because who knows? We'll have flying cars and Facebook implants in several years—or not. But in digital health, we're seeing a few trends, such as movement of care from the outpatient or inpatient setting to the home. And having the tools and technologies to monitor patients in the home. We’re seeing the movement of data from electronic health records that are stored in siloes to the cloud, and more and more data for analytics and machine learning. We’re seeing the notion of care at a distance in telemedicine/telecare not necessarily requiring a visit to a specific location.

So, that kind of combination of, I’ll gather more data about you from you, and help you be healthy in your home, as opposed to wait until you’re sick, is probably the most important trend of the next 6 quarters.

With technologies to monitor patients moving into the home, where is that data being collected going or how is it being utilized? Do patients know?
So, you ask this brilliant question about what do we do with all this new data coming from patients. I’ll tell you, it’s very early. Much of the data today goes into a patient portal or a patient app where it’s managed by the patient. Maybe there are some tools for the patient, but it may not be reviewed by a provider or provider team.

And we are asking the following question: era of meaningful use, when you have 11 minutes to see the patient, be empathetic, make eye contact, can you really take the time to review all the patient-generated data? Maybe not the raw data, but maybe its interpretation.

So, we’re asking: what are the tools and technologies to incorporate in provider workflow that will turn that data into wisdom and make it actionable by the provider team? That’s the work of the next year, because it’s very early days.
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