The Importance of a Positive UX

  Most designers and developers who dedicate countless hours of sweat and hard work toward building quality digital health applications feel as if their creation deserves to dominate its niche; however, whether a product thrives on the market is decided by criteria far from how well its creator thinks it operates. It matters little how well-theorized, or cleanly executed programmers may feel their applications are, because unfortunately, a product’s adoption rate is not solely reflective of the magnitude of its creators’ optimism. Digital health products are made to serve users, and no amount of revolutionary vision or hypothetical potential can save a product that fails to provide a satisfactory user experience.   User experience (UX) is about the overall impression that a service leaves; it involves a fluid blend of every variable, controllable or not, that influences users’ attitudes toward a particular product. Factors like usability and accessibility can contribute to a positive UX, while spotty performance or a lack of adequate privacy protection could sink an otherwise solid application.   A product offering negative UX can wreak highly publicized havoc on its creator’s reputation. Patients rely on digital wellness tools to help manage an invaluable commodity: their health. Most patients would question the sense of any organization that hires a doctor known to botch medical procedures. Companies of products with a weak UX should expect a similar reaction from users; it’s only natural to doubt the commitment of a company who seemingly cannot be bothered to make sure the benefits of using their service outweigh any headaches.   The rollout of Healthcare.gov is an excellent case study in...

Machine Learning is Revolutionizing Digital Health

  The global population swells by billions every decade, and the amount of people needing medical treatment climbs wildly in turn. Human processing ability alone is no longer sufficient to sift through and service a worldwide patient list numbering in the hundreds of millions; we are outnumbering ourselves. Doctors and medical staff, tasked with mastering an ever-more advanced arsenal of treatment techniques, must now look to technological innovation to manage the flow of patients, and ensure adequate care for all.   The field’s tech leaders recognize a dire need for efficiency. Facing the chore of sorting infinite amounts of medical data, many innovators believe that perhaps the most effective approach is to teach that data to sort itself. This is the beauty of machine learning: using the logic of statistical analysis, computers can actually be taught to transcend their programming; they can learn to identify patterns, make decisions, and tailor accurate predictions from blocks of input data. Coupled with the transformative power of telehealth, machine learning has the potential to personalize and optimize healthcare like never before, and usher modern medicine into a future once imagined only by the most optimistic science fiction.   One vocal advocate for uniting the fields of machine learning and digital health is Dr. Yulun Wang, a leader in surgical robotics and founder of pioneering telehealth company InTouch. Wang believes that “machine learning will soon be integrated cohesively into healthcare delivery through telehealth so that big data sets can be gathered and analyzed to improve global care. It will also improve individual care by matching the specifics of a patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan...

Could Digital Health Spell the End of the Doctor’s Office?

For as long as doctors have practiced, we’ve relied on them to remedy our lumps, cuts, bruises, and breaks. When we’re stricken with sickness, or we feel an inkling of disease, our self-preservation instinct urges a trip to the doctor’s office. For those able to stomach the costs, it’s always been not just common sense, but second nature to seek medical treatment from the most qualified source.   Today, the nature of communication is fundamentally changed. A face-to-face conversation no longer requires its participants to inhabit the same place and time. With modern technology, it’s now easy to digitize almost every type of exchange, whether it be conversational, informational, or monetary. This communicative flexibility has borne a universe of potential in nearly every industry, including healthcare. A multitude of new telehealth apps, available via smart device, are set to broadcast the treatment paradigm into a digitally integrated future, rendering professional care more affordable, accessible, and convenient than ever.   An unwanted illness can upset our day-to-day at any time. Having to ferry a feverish partner to the emergency room is never convenient, even less so when their symptoms clear by the time the doctor arrives. Apps like Teladoc and Doctor on Demand are the answer to ambiguous symptoms that leave patients unsure whether visiting the doctor’s office is the right move. These apps allow users to discuss symptoms with professionals certified in everything from pediatrics, to gynecology, to internal medicine. On top of that, most online consultations are relatively cheap, costing around $40-$50.   Owned by around 36 million Americans, wearable technology is fueling healthcare’s digital facelift in a...

The Accessibility of Digital Health

Like any system, health care exists in a state of constant reinvention; the way we access the tools and services that facilitate our well-being is molded by shifting social circumstance, and refined by technological progress. There’s no doubt that improvements in digital health products’ market availability and processing power have rendered them more accessible than ever before. However, digital heath’s current potential for access doesn’t guarantee its use by many or even most, and several roadblocks still bar the path to widespread adoption of the latest, greatest health tech advancements. One factor that limits digital healthcare’s accessibility is some healthcare providers’ misinformed belief that, since health is a sensitive and personal issue, many patients would prefer not to rely on digital health services. This misconception persuades providers to abandon the pursuit of quality digital alternatives, damaging digital health’s accessibility by leaving a market inundated with limited, less feasible products. Health organizations supplementing such a rationale with data showing low use of past digital care offerings might consider revamping digital provisions to answer the type of patient demand revealed by new research in the vein of a recent study conducted by Accenture. Accenture’s study indicates that around 75% of consumers are willing to use digital tech to track blood pressure, glucose levels, pulse, and other health related measurements. Another 70% said if given the option, they would digitally interact with care providers to receive treatment for milder health issues, such as a rash or a sore throat, and 78% confirmed a general interest in receiving digital health care some or most of the time. While limitations to digital health’s overall...

How the Consumer is Adopting and Adapting to Digital Health

  We live in an increasingly quantifiable world, a world where we can now measure and calculate everything from the nutritional content of last night’s snack, to the amount of cholesterol moving through our bloodstream. The widespread availability and navigational ease of today’s digital tech now allows us to monitor and assess nearly every conceivable contributing factor to our health. These advances enable an ongoing digital dialogue: a conversation with healthcare experts and providers alike regarding exactly how best to keep ourselves well. And just as modern tech now permits the accurate gauging of our health status, we can also quantifiably confirm that this informational exchange in healthcare is being facilitated evermore by the integration of wearables, mobile tracking, online information, and other digital health solutions into our everyday routines. Health-conscious consumers are widely and effectively engaging in the field of digital healthcare, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Rock Health. The survey used a questionnaire distributed to over 4,000 adults, who were selected to reflect nationwide diversity in age, sex, education level, and health status, in order to compile a representation of where digital health stands among the contemporary US healthcare landscape. Results were promising, indicating a steady, multi-demographic rise in consumer adoption, use and positive opinion of today’s most prominent digital health options. While a substantial increase in total adoption was apparent across all categories of digital health tech included on the survey, telemedicine showed the largest upswing in consumer use, with a 283% surge in overall adoption (from 7% to 22%) compared to a similar survey conducted in 2015. The most popular method of telemedicine...

The Pros and Cons of Data-Driven Marketing

    The wave of mass-information that at any given moment cascades over cyberspace is nothing short of breathtaking; according to a 2016 infographic by Excelacom, every minute humankind’s digital pastime churns out around 350,000 new tweets, 2.78 million YouTube views, 2.4 million Google searches, 150 million emails, and exponentially more.   This constant transfer of billions of bits of unique, user-generated data has understandably intrigued marketers for some time. Master advertisers use messages strategically tailored to reach deep consumer insights and drives, captivating target demographics with such subtlety that subjects are unconsciously, or even willingly persuaded to buy products. The digital footprints left regularly by millions of internet users draw for marketers a demographic map which lays out the consumer impulses, trends and preferences of any potential audience.   Pros of Data-Driven Marketing   It’s easy to recognize why such data could serve as a bottomless pool of resources for savvy marketers. Brands that gather metrics indicating which buyers prefer certain products (as well as when, where and why those products sell) are able to systematically deploy ad campaigns pinpointing which demographics are most likely to respond positively to specific ad strategies. By molding advertisements into an interactive, customer-focused experience, companies are able to curb needless spending and optimize the success rates of limited marketing resources.   The sheer amount of input endlessly blasting at internet users means successful ads must actively cut themselves from the buzz of online background static. In a review of the marketing industry, analytic platform Teradata claims:   “Customers today expect—and demand—a seamless and relevant experience. They have grown accustomed to marketers’ knowledge...