Digital health's promise lies in a good data management plan
To achieve the full promises of digital health, the future of healthcare technology will inevitably revolve around unobtrusive monitoring, convenient care, and more efficient management of data, argues Juhan Sonin, director of application design firm GoInvo and a lecturer at MIT.
“Humans don’t want to think about health or healthcare in general. They don’t. We’re biologically switched to only think about it when we’re hurting, and yet here we have one of the biggest industries in the US wanting us to think about it all the time,” Sonin said. “Machines and sensors and all this new tech and culture that we’re grounding into now will be much more aimed at this idea of invisibleness, that robots, algorithms, and sensors will be taking much of the mundane, day-to-day aspects out of our lives — which is great, no one wants to think about that.”
Sonin will be describing the path of personal healthcare technology during a presentation at the Digital and Personal Connected Health Conference at HIMSS18 in March. Specifically, he will describe the breakthroughs that are pushing the industry toward “invisible” monitoring, which include the continued development of non-invasive sensors and the proliferation of smartphones among consumers. Ideally, these trends will lead to seamless health data collection throughout a patient’s daily life and more convenient access to directed consultations.
“Primary care can be done virtually and can be done via text messaging — with the two billion encounters we have every year, two-thirds of them can be done remotely,” Sonin said. “Why on earth do I need to trot in to and dress up for a meeting with my doctor? That seems insane.”
But while the technology may be moving forward, there are still clear obstacles in front of the healthcare tech industry, Sonin noted. Some of these hurdles come in the form of previously established healthcare policy, which will likely take years of focused advocacy and pressure to overcome. Several issues stem from challenges related to the data themselves, such as ownership, ONC’s struggles to set a standard for health data interoperability, and how exactly data should represent an individual’s conditions or biometrics.
“Currently, we don’t have a data standard for human beings. How do you express a human in code? That’s something we need before this really happens,” he said.
Sonin’s presentation at the Digital and Personal Connected Health Conference will be held at 2 p.m. on March 5 at the Wynn Las Vegas. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.