- With the way that our world has been impacted the past year from COVID-19, digital health has become front and center an important facet in managing a patient’s health. In fact, patients like myself rely on digital health to help us monitor our daily health, whether it be seeing how my heart rate is looking on my wristwatch, checking to see if my electrocardiogram (ECG) is normal on my mobile device, or monitoring my sleep and my number of steps walked per day. Monitoring quarterly or semiannual bloodwork labs online is another benefit to digital health.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patients’ willingness and ability to engage with healthcare systems. To adapt to the “new normal,” healthcare providers have implemented processes that add more complexity to the process of making an appointment with our physician and entering the office to receive care. We can all agree that the purpose is to keep people safe and reduce the potential for exposure to COVID-19. However, the messaging about COVID-19 and the risk to people with heart disease has created fear and uncertainty for patients.
- Digital health is transforming healthcare delivery.
- In December 2019, the novel COVID-19 virus spread from a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, to every corner of the globe, creating a worldwide pandemic pushing hospital systems past capacity and bringing economies worldwide to a halt. The COVID-19 pandemic is unique in comparison to prior coronavirus epidemics in its superior ability to be spread by asymptomatic and presymptomatic patients, allowing the virus to silently evade traditional symptoms-based screening approaches. Countries have implemented cutting-edge digital solutions to enhance traditional contact-tracing methodologies in combination with novel testing strategies to combat the virus, with variable levels of success.
- The tools of digital health are facilitating a much-needed paradigm shift to a more patient-centric health care delivery system, yet our health care infrastructure is firmly rooted in a 20th-century model that was not designed to receive medical data from outside the traditional medical environment. COVID-19 has accelerated this adoption and illustrated the challenges that lie ahead as we make this shift. The diverse ecosystem of digital health tools share 1 feature in common: they generate data that must be processed, triaged, acted upon, and incorporated into the longitudinal electronic health record.