350,000+ Choices: Digital Health Solutions in Clinical Care

25 Jan, 2024 Claire Muselman


Las Vegas, NV (WorkersCompensation.com) -- The healthcare sector is experiencing an expansion in digital health solutions at a rapid rate, marking a transformative period in medical technology and patient care. The National Comp conference brought together experts Jonathan Bomba, R.N. (Selective Insurance Company of America), Michael McKinley (Enlyte), and Dr. Nikki Wilson (Enlyte) to explore this trend. Highlighting a startling statistic from 2021, they noted that while over 350,000 digital health apps were available, a significant 83% of these apps saw fewer than 5,000 downloads, indicating a disconnect between availability and actual user engagement. This presentation delved deeply into this digital realm, exploring the sheer volume of health apps and their varying impacts and efficacy in clinical care and claims management.

The Digital Health Explosion

The Digital Health Explosion is reshaping how we approach personal health and wellness. An insight from 2022 showed a dramatic shift in behavior, with 77% of adults turning to their digital devices for health-related information, a testament to the growing reliance on technology in the healthcare domain; however, this surge in digital health solutions has not translated into widespread adoption across the board. A vast majority of health apps languish with minimal downloads, indicating that only a select few apps are meeting the complex needs of users. Bomba pointed out the increasing prevalence of the 'Dr. Google' effect, a phenomenon where individuals lean heavily on internet searches and social media for medical advice, often bypassing professional consultations. This trend emphasizes a challenge in the digital health space: distinguishing between general wellness apps, which are abundant but often superficial, and more specialized apps focused on disease management, which now represent almost half of all health apps but require more discerning user selection.

The Credibility Conundrum

With an overwhelming array of digital health solutions, distinguishing the credible and effective ones is critical for healthcare professionals and consumers. Dr. Wilson emphasized the importance of understanding the subtle yet significant differences between health apps and wellness apps, with health apps typically requiring more stringent clinical validation and regulatory compliance. Adding to this complexity, McKinley highlighted the critical role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regulating these apps. He pointed out the significance of identifying the intended user of each app, as the requirements and expectations differ vastly between consumer-oriented apps and those designed for healthcare professionals. This distinction is crucial in ensuring that digital health solutions not only meet regulatory standards but also effectively address the specific needs of their target users.

Types of Digital Health Technologies

Dr. Wilson highlighted the various categories of DHTs, illustrating how they cater to different aspects of the healthcare continuum, ranging from sophisticated enterprise systems designed to enhance the operational efficiency of healthcare facilities to patient-facing tools that offer therapeutic interventions and personalized care management. She emphasized this ecosystem's dynamic and evolving nature, where new technologies are constantly emerging, driven by advancements in digital innovation and an increasing focus on patient-centered care. This evolution of DHTs reflects a shift in healthcare towards more integrated, data-driven, and patient-specific solutions, offering the potential for improved health outcomes and more efficient healthcare delivery.

What Constitutes a Health App?

Distinguishing between a wellness app and a health app is essential for both consumers and healthcare providers. Wellness apps typically focus on general health and lifestyle improvements, such as fitness tracking and nutritional advice, but do not engage in the clinical management of diseases. On the other hand, health apps, as categorized by the FDA, serve a more critical function in healthcare. These apps diagnose, monitor, or treat medical conditions, pivotal in the therapeutic relationship between healthcare providers and patients. This category includes a wide range of digital solutions, from digital therapeutics (DTx) that offer clinical interventions via software to non-DTx medical devices such as insulin pumps and pacemakers, which are integral in managing chronic conditions. The distinction emphasizes the level of regulatory oversight, clinical validity, and the potential impact on patient health outcomes.

Implementing Digital Health in Clinical Care

A key aspect of successful implementation is the adaptability of app content, ensuring that it can be customized to meet the diverse needs of individual patients and various clinical scenarios. Equally important is the design of these apps, which facilitates ease of use for healthcare professionals and patients, enhancing user engagement and effectiveness. In today's digital era, where patients often use multiple devices, the need for multi-platform functionality must be balanced, ensuring seamless access to health apps across smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. With approximately 88% of health apps equipped to collect and share sensitive health data, security measures and strict adherence to regulatory standards like HIPAA are more pressing than ever, safeguarding patient privacy and maintaining trust in digital health solutions.

Digital Therapeutics (DTx) and Workers' Compensation

Digital Therapeutics DTx, with its advanced capabilities, can significantly enhance traditional treatment plans, offering personalized and adaptive therapeutic options. In claims management, these digital tools can streamline processes, improve accuracy, and facilitate faster resolutions, benefiting healthcare providers and patients. When selecting appropriate DTx products for integration into workers' compensation programs, it is crucial to conduct thorough evaluations focusing on the legitimacy and effectiveness of the products, their FDA certification status, and their specific applicability to various diseases and conditions. This careful selection process ensures that the DTx tools align with clinical requirements and effectively address the unique needs of workers' compensation cases.

AR and VR in Digital Health

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are emerging as significant players in the digital health landscape, offering innovative approaches to patient care and medical training. One of the critical advantages of AR and VR in healthcare is their ability to simulate complex medical scenarios, providing a safe and controlled environment for learning and practice. These technologies also come with challenges, such as the high cost of VR equipment and the need for infrastructure to support AR applications. Despite these hurdles, AR and VR hold immense potential for transforming healthcare delivery, offering more interactive and engaging methods for treatment and education, thereby enhancing both access to care and the capabilities of healthcare professionals.

The digital revolution in healthcare is redefining the administration, monitoring, and evaluation of medical treatments, making the role of these technologies significant. Digital health solutions' success is their credibility, ease of use, seamless integration into existing therapeutic regimens, and the ability to produce quantifiable health outcomes. As the digital health sector continues to evolve, it becomes imperative for healthcare professionals and decision-makers to deepen their understanding of these tools and how to incorporate them into clinical practice and claims management effectively. The overarching message is clear: while digital health apps offer substantial benefits, they must complement and enhance traditional treatment methods, not replace the fundamental human elements of healthcare delivery.

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    About The Author

    • Claire Muselman

      Meet Dr. Claire C. Muselman, the Chief Operating Officer at WorkersCompensation.com, where she blends her vast academic insight and professional innovation with a uniquely positive energy. As the President of DCM, Dr. Muselman is renowned for her dynamic approach that reshapes and energizes the workers' compensation industry. Dr. Muselman's academic credentials are as remarkable as her professional achievements. Holding a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, she specializes in employee engagement, human behavior, and the science of leadership. Her diverse background in educational leadership, public policy, political science, and dance epitomizes a multifaceted approach to leadership and learning. At Drake University, Dr. Muselman excels as an Assistant Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the Master of Science in Leadership Program. Her passion for teaching and commitment to innovative pedagogy demonstrate her dedication to cultivating future leaders in management, leadership, and business strategy. In the industry, Dr. Muselman actively contributes as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation and plays key roles in organizations such as Kids Chance of Iowa, WorkCompBlitz, and the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, underscoring her leadership and advocacy in workers’ compensation. A highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Muselman inspires professionals with her engaging talks on leadership, self-development, and risk management. Her philosophy of empathetic and emotionally intelligent leadership is at the heart of her message, encouraging innovation and progressive change in the industry. "Empowerment is key to progress. By nurturing today's professionals with empathy and intelligence, we're crafting tomorrow's leaders." - Dr. Claire C. Muselman

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