Six Digital Health Trends For 2021
By Anish Sebastian, CEO, Babyscripts
Remember Instagram’s “Ten Year Challenge”? When ‘grammars were posting pictures of themselves from a decade before, next to one from the present day? Now we’re seeing the “2020 Challenge” — and this time, it’s a picture from March next to a present day picture.
The healthcare industry is the perfect microcosm of this decades-long year. With consumer adoption of telehealth skyrocketing by 400% in the period between the close of 2019 and April 2020, virtual health has gone from a novelty to necessity. You could argue that ten years froth of change has taken place in less than a year, and certainly healthcare is all but unrecognizable from what it was in March 2020.
That said, it may seem like a gutsy move to make predictions for the healthcare industry after the year we’ve just had, but I’m a gutsy guy, so here goes:
Big tech, Big everything getting into healthcare. Or will they?
Amazon, Alphabet and Apple all made deals in 2019 to purchase digital health startups, and those healthcare arms saw rapid growth this year, along with those from other Big Tech companies like Zoom and Microsoft jumping in with new healthcare products and features. Partnerships between Big Tech and healthcare organizations dominated the newswire, and subtrend Mergers and Acquisitions activity has picked up and will continue to. But Big Tech has been in the news for other reasons recently, as leading execs have come under scrutiny for data, privacy and security issues — most recently testifying before the House Antitrust Subcommittee for an investigation into misuse of data, among other concerns — significant concerns for the healthcare field.
Telemedicine was the finger in the dyke at the beginning of pandemic panic, with healthcare providers grabbing whatever came to hand — encouraged by relaxed HIPAA regulations — to keep the dam from breaking. But as the dust settles, telemedicine is emerging as the commodity that it is, and value-add services are going to be the differentiating factors in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Offerings like remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication, initially considered as “nice-to-haves,” are becoming standard offerings as healthcare providers see their value for continuous care beyond COVID.