Digital medicine and health have a great potential to improve the lives of patients. But they also raise a series of ethical and societal questions that need to be addressed, harm reduction is an important part of Medical and Health care.

To unleash the potential of medical and health, organizations need to define their purpose in terms of patient health and wellness – and not primarily by the types of services they provide. This is called a “health-centric purpose” and it opens the door to innovation.

What is Digital Medicine and Health?

Digital medicine and health refers to the use of digital technologies for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of medical conditions. It also includes quality improvement processes that involve the use of patient-generated data, and the integration of technology with clinical operations and medical research.

Digital therapeutics is a subset of digital medicine that uses a wide range of digital and Internet-based tools to spur changes in patients’ behaviours, resulting in improved and longer-term outcomes. It is an evidence-based field that incorporates updates collected from randomised controlled trials consolidated into clinical practice guidelines to improve the quality of care that patients receive.

In addition to being based on scientific evidence, digital health and medicine products must be regulated to ensure that they are safe. This includes the need for authorization and approval by regulatory boards to support effectiveness, risk, and intended use. This is essential for confidence in digital health and medicine products. Similarly, higher levels of regulation and clinical evidence are needed for products that make higher risk claims.

How can it be used to improve health?

The key to implementing a successful digital medicine program is to recognize that not all tools are created equal. The best of the bunch are the ones that are both useful and effective, leveraging existing data, technologies, and infrastructure to provide new insights to improve health outcomes, save lives, and create value for patients and providers alike.

The right people in the right roles at the right time are essential to achieve this goal. The best way to do this is to align with key stakeholders, including patient advocates and community partners, who are all looking for the same thing: improved health outcomes from the use of technology.

As digital medicine progresses, we’ll see a proliferation of software-driven connected devices that will have an impact on the quality of life for patients and health professionals alike. The key to making these innovations work is establishing and enforcing appropriate standards, regulations, and quality assurance programs that will ensure the right products reach the right users at the right time.

How can it be monetized?

Healthcare data can be monetized in several ways. One example is direct monetization, which involves an organization collecting data and then connecting with a third party to exchange data or insights based on that data.

Another way is indirect monetization, which uses data to impact revenue without the data ever leaving the organization. This could be in the form of improving operational performance, enhancing product offerings, or introducing new products or services to the market.

The emergence of ‘big’ data is driving this trend. Using big data to understand and address health markers can lead to significant value.

One solution for monetizing healthcare data is to incentivize patients and health workers to store long-term health information in digital form. This could be done through a subscription model, where patients pay a monthly or annual fee for accessing their long-term medical records. This would provide a valuable service to many people and significantly improve their quality of life.

What are the key challenges?

Health care delivery has evolved a great deal over the last century, from hospitals and clinics to homes and mobile devices. Digital technology is now enabling medical professionals to collaborate remotely and to offer remote patient counseling, video-based treatment services, and other forms of electronic health care.

Despite its many benefits, digital medicine also poses significant challenges. Among the most critical issues is data security and privacy, which is becoming increasingly important in an age of soaring cyberattacks.

These challenges require an urgent focus on cybersecurity and privacy by design in the context of digital medicine and health. They also raise the need for collaboration across the government, health organizations and consumer-facing vendors to develop consensus on security protocols and upgrade existing security infrastructure.