Digital Transformation

From health to connected health

As we are talking about how the manner in which the digital will revolutionize the different sectors, I have decided to talk about the impact of the digital in relation to health: Connected health.

What is connected health?

Connected health is about connecting people and information within a system: the healthcare system. Connected health compounds information linked to several different aspects of one’s personal sphere to give a more comprehensive picture of their health. Connected health includes terms such as eHealth, Digital Health, mHealth, Telehealth, Telecare, remote care, and assisted living.

Connected health puts the patient at the center of the healthcare system by collecting, relating and interpreting information from many different sources to enable better informed more specifically adapted treatment.

Connected health allows practitioners to make decisions within a context, to have a better communication with their patients and to compound data so as to provide back-up statistical information.

Connected health promotes an environment in which patients can be treated in the best location, by the most suitable person, using the most relevant and effective methods. It cuts down waste and curbs system costs while maintaining or even improving the patient’s quality of life.

Connected health solutions allows society to maintain personalized healthcare in satisfactory conditions in an economic environment of decreasing resources and increasing demand. It enables medical practice to genuinely focus on the patient in the most efficient way possible.

Health –professionals (MDs, hospitals, etc) involved in Connected Health and developers are creating and developing applications, and as of now there are already 100 000 applications in the world, specialized in diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, etc.…)

Today in San Francisco you have 3.0 Doctors: You can book your appointment via an app on your smartphone and for minor cases you can use an application to set a diagnosis: answer a few questions and a prescription is delivered and transmitted to the pharmacist.

The market of connected health is estimated today at 5 billion dollars and could reach 17 billion by 2017. Beyond the technological progress they represent, these new tools imply breaking with traditional approaches in medical practices; they will promote a new type of relationship between doctors and patients and open thrilling perspectives in terms of prevention.

Facts and figures

According to a Phr/Ifop survey of January 2015, 13% of the French population own connected health objects; 79% consider that their medical follow-up may be improved; 73% admit that connected objects may result in easier communication with health professionals and for 59% they will make prevention more efficient. 79% are ready to share personal health-related data with their doctor or pharmacist According to another study conducted by Soreon Research, a Swiss firm specialized in the analysis of Connected Health, “wearable devices” may save 1.3 billion people by 2020. The objects which may contribute to saving the most lives (700 000) are those used within the hospitals to monitor the state of health of the patients. An increased monitoring of cardiovascular patients may save 230 000 lives and that of obese patients 150 000 lives.

Collaboration: a top priority

Health professionals all emphasize how important the collaboration between the different agents is for connected health. Start-ups like Valwin, MedPics or WoundDesk have come up with new solutions in order to constantly improve collaboration between professionals and with patients as well. MedPics, a digital platform, allows professionals to share pictures within the requirements of the CNIL and the public health code in respect of the patient’s private life. Anonymity of all published material is strictly required: no patient or professional is to be identifiable; they remain clinical cases only. The real interest of Medpics lies not only in the diversity of cases photographed but above all in the interactive process and the sharing of experience and expertise.

Other developments and applications around connected Health

IBM is now working in association with Apple to analyze health data: a new platform Watson Health Cloud is being developed to compound anonymous data collected by Apple’s software HealthKit and ResearchKit allowing to include users who would be interested in the conduct of research and medical tests. And to enhance its position in connected health, IBM is launching new partnerships with companies like Johnson & Johnson (specialized in protheses) or Medtronic (pacemakers, insulin pumps) to develop common services.

Apple is interested in our DNA and plans to turn our iPhone into a tool to track down genetic diseases. It might go even further: the firm is working towards developing an application using the genetic data of volunteer patients. So i-Phone users could take an active part in studies taking their genetic profiles into account. All you would have to do is send a saliva sample to a laboratory participating in the programme. By sequencing a hundred or so genes involved in certain diseases and relating the results to the data collected via the i-Phones, the scientists could have a better understanding of certain phenomena. What may cause premature birth in certain cases or why people carrying genes incriminated in certain diseases do not develop the disease are questions to be tackled. The whole thing would rest upon ResearchKit, a great programme launched last March in order to allow scientists to collect the health data of the users of i-Phones. One of the studies would make it possible to observe the evolution of Parkinson disease within a sample group of volunteer patients. By making the DNA of those of their clients who are willing, available to the researchers, Apple would break decisive new ground in the field of scientific research.

About the author

Alice Brehaut

Alice Brehaut

Alice Brehaut is a Marketing, Communication and Digital Assistant at Philips. She is also a student in DBS Master in Grenoble Ecole de Management.