by Vidya Oruganti
This report is aimed at policy makers to draw their attention towards the policy concerns that need immediate attention, which arise as a result of the rapidly interweaving connected and smart health technologies into traditional health and wellness practices.
Smart and connected health technologies like devices, wearables and sensors have brought together all the stakeholders –patients (consumers), physicians, care givers, pharmaceuticals and technology developers –like never before. These technologies enable data collection, measurement, and data driven analysis, pattern recognition, behaviour changes and treatment interventions in real time. Based on the stakeholders they impact, there are four major observable trends in terms of changes that impact the health and wellness practices –Consumer Empowerment, New Technology New Practices, Health and Wellbeing Convergence and, The Payment Quandary (DELL, 2016; Managed Healthcare Executive , 2017)
Consumer Empowerment impacts the consumers directly. Internet and smart phones have made information cheap, easily accessible and quickly transferable. This thus enables the consumer to have greater knowledge of his/her condition. In doing so, the consumer can proactively engage in a timely manner within his/her care decision making. This eventually puts the patient/consumer back in the centre of care, while placing control within his/her own hands.
New Technologies, New Practices impacts primarily the care providers, including physicians and hospitals, and technology developers. These connected health technologies facilitate easy sharing of patient/consumer’s data with his/her physician and pharmacy. This enables remote monitoring and can avoid unnecessary visits to the physician. Devices are also used for rehabilitation.
Health and Wellbeing Convergence impacts highly the corporate partners of wellness, insurance providers and the consumers. Connected devices generate data every time a consumer uses them. This data can be equally important to the health part of the care as well as to the wellbeing part of the care. Corporate wellness programs are now promoting an active lifestyle and allows the consumers a reduction in the health premiums when they share their data and if they meet the required exercise levels. In terms of healthcare part, data generated can be used to capture irregularities in the consumer parameters and enable faster interventions to avoid complications and eventually reduce costs. Despite being very helpful, ethical data sharing and data misuse raises some serious policy concerns.
The Payment Quandary impacts mainly the insurance providers and the pharmaceuticals. While both health and wellbeing parts of care are converging in terms of their services, their payment systems are still far from coming together. This calls for a need to review traditional payment methods such that the stakeholders –insurance companies, government, pharmaceuticals and the consumer –benefit from such a change.
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