According to Pew Research, almost two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone, nearly double the 35% of respondents that indicated they did just five years ago. Naturally, with more smartphones in the pockets of Americans across the country, the capabilities of our devices continues to grow. The capabilities of digital health on our devices is no exception, as its continued expansion and growth has resulted in some impressive numbers–namely that 66 percent of smartphone users indicated they would use a mobile health app.
For the first time, the power of monitoring, measuring and analyzing your health is being put back into your own hands thanks to the digital health revolution. But it, like everything else entrusted to the public, is not without its questions and limitations, at least seemingly.
A huge and looming factor when it comes to putting the power of health into the hands of the consumer is trust; more specifically, will people trust their phones to accurately measure how healthy they are, and trust themselves to accurately interpret it?
As it turns out, the answer to that question may already be a firm “yes.” According to Forbes, the ease and convenience of digital health devices like wearables or mobile apps is beginning to outweigh the expertise and comfort of in-person physician visits, as more and more people are opting to put their health in the hands of their smartphones.
Only a few years ago, the idea of relying on your cell phone to manage your health would be largely unheard of; ask any Baby Boomer or Traditionalist about their feelings on putting their health in the hands of technology, chances are they won’t be nearly as receptive. With the continuous onset of digital health literacy, coupled with economic factors and the rising cost of healthcare, our use of digital health platforms is growing exponentially.
But the handing of healthcare power to the people won’t be the downfall of the healthcare industry, nor will it eliminate the need for in-person visits (at least not yet). In fact, consumer-led digital healthcare can reap palpable benefits for healthcare providers, including encouraging patient independence, improving preventative measures and reducing the number of visits for non-serious injuries or concerns.
No longer is healthcare the exception to the “going digital” rule that has permeated so many other industries from finance to journalism. Seemingly, this enormous shift is for the better, as the power of controlling one’s own health is being put back into the hands of those who it affects the most.
Current digital health technology–at least for now–can’t replace a visit to the doctor’s office or emergency room, supplementing the hands-on care of a medical professional rather than replacing it. Continuous strides forward are being made as digital and mobile health seek to close that gap and give power back to the patients.