Digital transformation provides the perfect storm for companies capable of developing scalable solutions that improve treatment accuracy, availability and affordability.
The healthcare sector is at the beginning of a major digital transformation as IT infrastructure is modernizing to enable a more flexible and accessible healthcare system. The global healthcare market is forecasted to grow to nearly US$ 11.9 trillion by 2022. Transformative technologies continue to pave the way for a new era of technology-driven, patient-first healthcare solutions.
It’s clear the start of the global pandemic in 2020 shook traditional healthcare systems on a global level. Not only did healthcare institutions require integrated systems to manage the influx of patients and personalized information, but companies needed to keep track of the wellness of their teams as large numbers of physicians and employees switched to remote work environments.
Adopting new technologies to navigate rapidly changing environments has helped medical professionals and wellness experts conduct the work they need to do to save lives and improve treatment. The ongoing pandemic has only served to provide the much-needed catalyst to accelerate these initiatives.
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But, how did we get here? And what does the future hold for disruptive solutions looking to modernize the way we approach healthcare?
A brief history of traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare
The history of healthcare quality before 1960 is a fragmented collection of unrelated events, rather than a streamlined and organized effort. Exponential strides in medical advancement and wellness quality often came from a sense of desperation or essential need seen first-hand by medical professionals. Significant trends and leaps in healthcare came in conjunction with major world events like world wars, epidemics, famine and economic depression.
During the transition to the 21st century, health care systems across the world focused more on policy efforts for improving the quality of healthcare delivered to patients. Seeing the need for a more centralized push for healthcare, international governments worked to create a healthcare system that was more than a series of seemingly unrelated incidents and developments.
Jurisdictions slowly introduced the concept of widespread publicly funded and administered, comprehensive and accessible hospital and medical services. It was the beginning of a shift in mentality — one that saw healthcare viewed as an important, essential service in modern society.
Most importantly, education, access to technology and the introduction of sterilization, innovation and infrastructural improvements led to explosive developments that elevated healthcare through the ages.
Healthcare in the modern digital age
Improved infrastructure, scientific advancement and medical training are the hallmarks of modern-day healthcare.
In low-income countries and regions with limited infrastructure, integration of telecommunications and technology-driven medical applications help to link healthcare providers with specialists, referral hospitals and tertiary care centers. As technologies in wellness accessibility and medical efficiency spread throughout the world, so will the ability to change and save more lives.
For example, widespread adoption of biometric measuring devices, such as equipment monitoring heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose levels, has increased remote monitoring and managing patients across various chronic illnesses. This adoption of technology-based solutions continues to demonstrate the potential to transform how medical and wellness professionals administer health services as hospitals become overwhelmed with increasing caseloads and influxes of chronically ill patients.
Now more than ever, healthcare is evolving to meet the needs of patients, wherever they are. Geographic restrictions are no longer a barrier to care. Instead, patients can access essential healthcare services using sophisticated telehealth platforms and other applications.
Understanding the digital health revolution
Digital Health is the practice of behavioral health using telecommunications to provide clinical services. The adoption of digital technology has already shown massive potential in improving and aiding healthcare globally.
Digital Health opens up new channels for communication and connects rural and remote regions with healthcare professionals worldwide. Overcoming geographic barriers to medical education and training also has supported healthcare providers in remote areas of the world to serve their own communities or create accessible virtual care for those who otherwise would be unable to obtain it.
Increasing availability and utilization of Information Communication Technology or ICTs by the general population have been the biggest drivers of virtual care over the past decade. Here, ICTs in digital health and wellness hold excellent potential for reducing the variability of diagnoses of traditional analog methods and improving clinical management and delivery of healthcare services worldwide by enhancing access, quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Major players in the virtual care space
There is no denying how rapidly digital health is evolving. Current estimates suggest that there are between 10,000-20,000 mental health apps on the market. In 2019, analysts estimated the digital health and wellness service market was worth US$84.08 billion. Given the global pandemic, this valuation could increase by up to 28.5 percent by 2026. Notable leaders in the space expect to advance these metrics as they continue to innovate digital health and wellness for the modern world.
Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) is an integrated virtual care system for delivering whole-person health to tackle wellness and prevention of complex healthcare needs. The Company is the combination of a telehealth provider and a virtual care provider that merged in 2020 through Teladoc’s US$18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo.
In the early months of 2020, Teledoc saw an increase of 92 percent in total visits in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases worldwide. In the same period, their U.S. subscription base jumped from 27 million users in 2019 to 43 million the following year, a positive trend that reflects the growth of the entire telehealth market.
Babylon Health is a digital-first health service provider and value-based care company that combines an artificial intelligence powered platform with virtual clinical operations. Patients are connected with doctors and health care professionals through its web and mobile application.
Babylon’s subscription business model for private healthcare services was launched in the UK in 2013. They have since expanded internationally to Canada, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United States. They also provide services in Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The company covers over 24 million people globally and provides over 5,000 virtual care consultations per day.
On June 3, 2021, Babylon announced it has agreed to go public in the United States through a merger with a blank-check firm led by former Groupon chief Rich Williams, at a pro-forma equity valuation of $4.2 billion. The deal with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp. will provide up to $575 million in gross proceeds to Babylon, including a $230 million private placement from investors such as AMF Pensionsförsäkring and Palantir Technologies Inc.
Telehealth is the first step in the digital health transformation. Online doctor-patient connectivity enables the delivery of services beyond traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare but is not scalable digital health because it’s still human centric.
Wellteq Digital Health is a leader in digitally-driven health and wellness, aiding the transition from traditional healthcare navigation to a more personalized, data-driven and full-range patient experience. Wellteq is a Digital Health Platform that provides a complete continuum of personalized care from preventative wellness to virtual healthcare paid for by employers, insurers and healthcare providers.
Through AI-based analytics solutions and Internet of Medical Things devices, the company helps employers, insurance companies and healthcare providers take control of health and wellness and overcome accessibility issues around digital health. Wellteq is a globally scalable digital health platform that provides continuous user connectivity and data capture while its algorithms deliver personalised coaching, Currently, Wellteq solutions are changing the behaviours and health profiles of users in over 30 countries and 12 languages.
Since 2017, Wellteq has partnered with Garmin to deliver wearable biotech that incorporates an advanced wellness portal and analytic solutions. The company boasts several highly strategic partnerships with healthtech companies to advance its mission for scaling digital health and virtual care through 2021 and beyond.
Wellteq offers a revolutionary health and wellness platform, which uses data sources from mobile phones, wearable tech and medical devices to create user personalised profiles for risk assessment and coaching supportive lifestyle behaviors – population based preventive healthcare. This software-hardware hybrid for virtual care helps address the high demand for personalized and value-added digital health management and user engagement.
Investing in the future of healthcare
The digital health movement extends well past the COVID-19 pandemic. As an example, analysts estimate the global telehealth market size will reach US$559.52 billion by 2027..
Digital transformation takes time and the shift from traditional analog technology to more advanced digitally-driven medical innovations is only the beginning of the next wave of healthcare innovation. The combination of aging healthcare systems (and technology), rapid digital transformations and the rise of technology-savvy patients provides the perfect storm for companies capable of developing scalable solutions that improve treatment accuracy, availability and affordability — which is exactly what Wellteq, Teladoc and Babylon offer.
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