Guest Column | October 28, 2014

Bridge The Digital Health Divide With Patient-Generated Data

Drew Schiller, co-founder & CTO, Validic

By Drew Schiller, co-founder & CTO, Validic

New technologies for tracking and monitoring populations and diseases are flooding to the market. The rapid change and innovation within all sectors of healthcare is causing continued disruption as companies struggle for a competitive advantage in engaging and managing their populations. As such, digital health is becoming increasingly vital for healthcare to incorporate into their strategic objectives.

As healthcare stakeholders move toward accountable and value-based care, they are struggling to find new ways to manage the health data created from the onslaught of in-home clinical devices, fitness wearables, and wellness applications. Healthcare organizations are trying to figure out ways to obtain and integrate this data into their health information systems and engagement platforms, as a means to emphasize wellness and prevention within their populations.

Innovators like the Palo Alto Medical Foundation of Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente are already advancing on mHealth with regard to large telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives. But, many healthcare entities are stuck – not knowing how or where to begin accessing and integrating their patient's data. This is due in no small part to the lack of interoperability in healthcare. Understanding how successful healthcare companies are using patient health data to better manage and care for their populations, will help us, as industry, begin to bridge the divide between digital health technology and the healthcare system.

Connecting the technology patients are using outside of the healthcare setting, such as fitness trackers and blood glucose applications, to the technology physicians are using in the provision of care, such as electronic health records and patient engagement platforms, is effectively connecting people to their healthcare provider. And, this matters, a lot.

With this patient-generated data, healthcare entities are effectively able to provide better insights into care treatment plans, better monitor patient behavior, improve financial management of their patient populations, and provide better connectivity across the entire continuum of care in their communities.

For context, within the hospital environment, physicians are using patient-generated data to track their patients post-discharge – reducing the risk of infection and re-admittance. Providers are creating new models of patient care based on better remote monitoring of chronic conditions. Health systems are better able to track and engage their patient populations by integrating health data into their EMR and EHR systems. Health insurance companies are using this data to create improved risk management models to better reward clients. Pharmaceutical companies are using the data to monitor clinical trials and conduct research studies on side-effects. Corporate wellness companies are using the verified data to create more productive and engaging health incentives.

No doubt these are innovative initiatives are at the forefront of mobile health in healthcare; however, soon they will be the standard practice for all health and wellness groups. Implementing digital health strategies has been proven to save the healthcare industry millions in wasted dollars associated with hospital re-admittance, un-necessary in-person visits, misdiagnosis, etc. The actual savings from implementing digital health strategies to combat the issues plaguing healthcare is projected in the billions. From remote patient monitoring to virtual visits to patient data integration into EMRs, the cost-savings of digital health integration are just beginning to be realized.

About the author

Drew Schiller is CTO of Validic, which he co-founded in 2010 in an effort to bridge the gap between digital health technologies and healthcare companies. Drew has helped lead the company through multiple customer development cycles, two fundraising rounds, and several pivots. Before co-founding Validic, Drew launched and ran a web development firm for eight years. In 2009, he started and later sold a niche dietary nutrition website.