Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 09, 2015

Digital Health Products Could Save Healthcare $100 Billion by 2018

Global management consulting and tech company Accenture recently released a study which found that digital health products are poised to save the healthcare industry more than $100 billion by the close of 2018.

Accenture is calling this a “digital disruption,” but that may be an early contender for the understatement of the year. Digital health products such as Internet-connected hardware or medical treatment-facing software showed that they were undoubtedly successful in 2014 by saving healthcare providers more than $6 billion in costs. The savings came as a result of patients' adhering to their medications, modifying their habits to healthy behaviors, and visiting emergency rooms less often. The savings for each year are projected to rise substantially in 2015 to $10 billion, in 2016 to $18 billion, in 2017 to $30 billion, and in 2018 to a whopping $50 billion.

Rick Ratliff, the managing director of digital health solutions at Accenture, summed up the situation as such:

“A digital disruption is playing out in healthcare as witnessed by the emergence of new business models and technology that will change the nature of patient interactions, alter consumer expectations, and ultimately improve health outcomes.”

This growth will ride on the back of the expanding digital health products market that, in no small part, will take advantage of FDA approvals for such devices. Accenture said it expects the FDA to approve hardware and software at a rate that more than triples the current mark. Only 33 of these products found their way past the FDA in 2014; by 2018, the figure could read more like 100.

These monetary values are also not just indicative of doctor-sponsored provisions for improved care. There is a legal wave of mandates that govern information technology and payment systems that are driving the FDA to push forward the number of smart healthcare devices in the market. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which puts forward electronic health record Meaningful Use mandates, uses those mandates to judge whether or not healthcare providers can receive CMS incentives. As such, the use of smart products can help providers improve clinical outcomes and better meet the standards of Meaningful Use.

The release of regulatory guidelines for low-risk wellness tools such as heart monitors will also give product developers more guidance in the market. When they build devices that confer with those guidelines, the FDA will be more likely to approve them for standard medical care.

On the other side of the coin, there are also many patients who feel empowered when using smart devices to manage their own care. Accenture found that over half of medical patients track their health information online and that wearable fitness device use could double in the next five years. This means that there is incentive for both doctors and patients to embrace the coming wave of products. Whether it is a heart rate monitor, online health-tracking tool, or some advanced piece of hardware, there are obvious benefits regarding patient care and cost savings for their health providers.


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