The Technology Elements Driving and Adopting Digital Health by Sarah Iqbal of Biotaware

Category: Blog

By Janice


The technology driving digital health
With the rise of digital health, the opportunities for organisations of digital health applications (See our first article here to learn more about the digital health industry) are growing rapidly. Products such as Apple’s ResearchKit and Google Fit and Apple Health are all providing wider access to valuable consumer health and clinical data gathered from a variety of sources and hardware sensors. This article explores what components of technology that is needed to enable digital technology to be adopted i.e. mobile applications and wearables to interact with cloud servers and databases and how these technologies can be deployed.

Components of digital health solution

ApplicationsApplication in mHealth are primarily developed to deliver medical information, access or capture data, or provide clinical services. Apps also provide an empowerment mechanism (via gamification) for consumers/patients so that they can take greater responsibility for their own diagnosis and treatment. In addition, apps are being developed to support healthier living, help manage a long-term condition and to provide initial advice on an emerging medical problem.
Wearable technologyAnother key development that is synonymous with mHealth application are wearables. Essentially, wearables are electronic devices worn on the body externally, often as an accessory, which can track movements and actions. The healthcare industry has adopted a lot of wearables (also known as health devices) to capture useful biological data. Most wearable health devices transmit data via an app i.e. wearables work well only in conjunction with software (such as apps).
Cloud server solutionsA digital health platform is imperative for healthcare industry stakeholders to efficiently obtain operational and safety data for business intelligence (analytics specifically in healthcare), analysis and reporting- especially from disparate data sources. It serves as a server and back-end support in consolidating and hosting all the data captured.
DatabaseAll data that is collected by the server is stored securely in the cloud database. Data can be structured for user accounts/profiles and similar relational data, and unstructured for storage of user generated data (test results, images, logs etc.)
Dashboard analytics and visualisationAnalytics is essentially the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. With massive amounts of healthcare data captured, a system that process the data and crunch numbers systematically is crucial especially one that enables users to collect many parameters on a continuous basis and using images to convey intelligence.
ConnectivityConnectivity plays a role not just in how consumers connect their data from a device into an app but how data collected within an app connects to a healthcare provider, community of patients and social networks which can provide additional support and guidance.  High-level functionality and connectivity allows for some biofeedback devices to send data wirelessly to patients’ healthcare providers to monitor for critical health incidents.

Note: Listed here are core components usually needed when deploying a digital health solution. Additional components are sometimes required for other product-specific services, such as hardware device integration, E-Commerce, advertising, monetization, third party technology integrations etc.

The use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe. A powerful combination of factors is driving this change. For example, mobile health will advance through creating country-based eHealth strategies that incorporate it into the existing eHealth domain. Policies need to be complemented by standards, architectures, and solid partnerships to help pilot mHealth initiatives mature and realize their full potential.

In addition, moving towards a more strategic approach to planning, development and evaluation of digital health activities will greatly enhance the impact of these technologies in healthcare. Increased guidance and information are needed to help align digital health i.e. mHealth with broader health priorities in countries and integrate mHealth into overall efforts to strengthen health systems for the ultimate end goal– utilizing mobile and wireless technologies to improve medicinal health and well-being.

Written by Sarah Iqbal of Biotaware

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"The Technology Elements Driving and Adopting Digital Health by Sarah Iqbal of Biotaware " First published on Company Connecting February 2017
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