Technological innovation has been helping society advance since humans first walked the Earth. Creative solutions have addressed problems and streamlined operations across every industry and facet of life, including health care. Let’s review how the latest trend, Digital Health, can both improve your well-being and fatten your wallet.
Before we get into how digital health can impact your life, we need to define it. Digital health is an umbrella term for technology-based products and services designed to promote better health. The use of digital health has increased significantly, particularly since the start of the pandemic. Chances are, you’ve used or currently use one or more products or services.
Some examples of digital health include:
Advancements in digital health also include the use of robots for surgery. Doctors operate the robot remotely to perform select procedures. New innovations in the digital health space hit the market almost every day.
Digital health was born for a reason — to improve health care. That goal is being achieved in several different ways:
Let’s take a look at each of these arenas.
Digital health can help more people get the medical advice and care that they need. Since most people have a smartphone these days, telemedicine visits are poised to become the new normal. Illness, lack of transportation, dependent care issues, and scheduling conflicts no longer have to get in the way of your seeing a doctor.
Mobile apps and wearable devices literally put your health information at your fingertips. You can track anything from your heart rate to your insulin level to the number of steps you take each day. Using that data, you get a clearer picture of your well-being and can make tweaks to your lifestyle as needed. You can take control over your health — and you may even have fun doing it. Many mobile apps gamify the process, rewarding you for healthy behavior, connecting you with others in friendly competition, and helping you brag about your accomplishments on social media.
Data collected could also alert you or your physician that medical intervention is needed. If an issue is detected and treated early, you may be able to save money and time spent at the doctor’s office. Catching the problem sooner rather than later could ultimately save your life.
Information from digital health products can help your physician personalize your care. Using data that’s unique to you, they can tailor your treatment plan instead of relying on the tried and true course for that particular condition. Your doctor will know exactly where you stand, often in real-time, which means they can make better-informed decisions in the moment.
Using digital health products can improve your bottom line. Telemedicine visits typically cost less than office visits. And, if you’re closely monitoring your health and making necessary adjustments to your lifestyle, you may prevent illness and need to see the doctor less often. Plus, going to a virtual visit saves time for both you and your doctor. Given the current (and projected) physician shortage, your doctor will thank you.
Looking at the larger picture, aggregated data could be used to spot sweeping trends across different demographics and geographic regions. That insight may spark new research or the development of new pharmaceuticals and other treatment methods. By using a digital health product, you could end up contributing to a collective good.
While digital health certainly helps people and has incredible future potential, there are some possible downsides to be aware of. Before signing up for the latest app, be sure to consider the following:
Let’s review these as well.
While the industry goal is to make digital health accessible to all, the actual reach is limited. Currently, the majority of regular users are young, well-off, and physically fit. Companies are trying hard to get the technology into the hands of other demographics.
Like humans, technology is fallible. Digital health products will inevitably malfunction at times and provide inaccurate information. That failure could result in an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office - or ignoring a real problem.
Digital health products and services collect a lot of data. If you have concerns about your privacy, you’re not alone. Leading companies in the industry must have robust security measures in place to prevent your private information from getting leaked.
Insurance companies may try to use digital health information collected in their underwriting process. If that happens, you could see an increase in your rates or possibly be denied coverage. You should be - and stay - informed on how your insurer uses this data.
Related Reading: Wondering how the industry is being regulated? Check out the FDA’s Digital Health Action Plan.
So, is it smart to invest in the digital health industry? It could be. The industry is valued at hundreds of billions of dollars (precise valuation depends on the source) and is growing rapidly. Plus, the healthcare industry overall is ever-enduring regardless of the economy.
Our Board Advisor Max Osbon encourages you to take a close look at the digital health industry to see if it has a place in your portfolio. He specifically names DexCom, Inc. (DXCM), Teladoc Inc. (TDOC), and Cerner Corporation (CERN) as securities to watch. For more of the companies he identifies in the Digital Health space, check out the Self-Invest tab on the Unifimoney app.
The digital health industry burst onto the scene several years ago and is here to stay. Despite some challenges, the powerful technology that drives the industry has produced life-saving innovations. Getting into digital health as both a consumer and investor could result in greater well-being and a fatter wallet.
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The above does NOT constitute an offer, solicitation of an offer, nor advice to buy or sell specific securities. The opinions listed above are not the opinions of Unifimoney Inc. or Unifimoney RIA, Inc. but represent the opinions of independent contributors. These contributors may or may not hold positions in the stocks discussed. Investors should always independently research any stocks listed and form their own opinions, while recognizing that any investments made may lose value, are not bank guaranteed and are not FDIC insured.