Digital health refers to the use of information and communications technologies in medicine and other health professions. Digital health has a broad scope and includes the use of wearable devices, mobile health, telehealth, health information technology and telemedicine. The key reasons why Digital Health has been gaining momentum is because of the following:
There is some evidence to show that the use of digital medicine now also permits patients to better track their own health and wellness. For example, the use of digital devices like the smartphone not only helps with communication, but these devices now have a huge number of apps that can help monitor blood pressure, record blood sugars, ensure compliance with medications, and track the amount of physical activity.
Function and Goals of Digital Health
The objectives of using digital health products and services are:
Categories of Digital Health Products and Services
Digital health means different things to different people. Here are the main subcategories:
Issues in Digital Health Design, Validation, Testing and Deployment
Digital Health Entrepreneurship Competencies
Like other medical school subjects, there are basic science and clinical components and the apprenticeship model is used to develop competent graduates. The same should apply to digital health and learning objectives, curriculum design and assessment should be in three basic and applied areas:
The course should be mandatory for every medical student. We should also separate education from training. Here is a summary of the topics typically covered:Section 1: Technologies
Section 2: Applications
Section 3: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Section 4: Leading Interdisciplinary and Inter-Professional Teams
Digital health tools have become an integral part of the contemporary practice of medicine and will continue to evolve.
As technology advances in health care, it also raises challenges and ethical considerations for policymakers. Some of the concerns being raises include transmission of misinformation; the internet is awash with hundreds of medical sites offering all types of advice and treatment options. Many of these websites are not even operated by healthcare workers and the sources used to collect the information include Wikipedia and other non-peer reviewed articles. Patients often subscribe to these sites believing that all the information is true. Often patients make medical decisions without speaking to a healthcare professional and this may endanger the lives of many individuals.
In addition, there is also concern that many of the devices that make connect the patient to the healthcare provider may easily be accessed by third parties and lead to the release of sensitive patient information. Hacking of medical devices has been shown to occur from a distance.
Further, there is great concern that some health care providers who practice digital health may be releasing patient data, which may be in violation of HIPPA. to date, there are no guidelines on the practice of telehealth or telemedicine. As to what information and how much information can be released and under what circumstances is still being debated.
Finally, a bigger push towards digital health may erode the trust towards healthcare workers and place more reliance on medical websites, leading to quackery. An example of this is the anti-vaccination movement which is quite vociferous and gaining momentum. At the end of the day, the physician must make an effort to physically see the patient on a regular basis. Digital health should only be a complimentary service and not a substitute for the conventional patient-doctor visit.