Can medical Alexas make us more healthy? (The New York Times, April 2021), Wearables as a tool for measuring therapeutic adherence in behavioral health (npj Digital Medicine, May 2021), Improving community healthcare screenings with smartphone-based AI technologies (The Lancet Digital Health, May 2021), Predictive analytics and tailored interventions improve clinical outcomes (npj Digital Medicine, June 2021), H1 2021 secured $14.7B in digital health funding, already surpassing all of 2020ʹs funding (Rock Health, 2021)
What are the implications and rationale behind the recent developments in the field of digital health?
Digital Health is the use of information and communication technology for the prevention and treatment of diseases in the everyday life of individuals. It is thus linked to topics such as digital health interventions, digital biomarkers, digital coaches and healthcare chatbots, telemedicine, mobile and wearable computing, self‐tracking, personalized medicine, connected health, smart homes, or smart cars.
In the 20th century, healthcare systems specialized in acute care. In the 21st century, we now face the challenge of dealing with the specific characteristics of non‐communicable diseases. These are now responsible for around 70% of all deaths worldwide and 85% of all deaths in Europe and are associated with an estimated economic loss of $7 trillion between 2011 and 2025. Chronic and mental diseases are characterized in particular by the fact that they require an intervention paradigm that focuses on prevention and lifestyle change. Lifestyle (e.g., diet, physical activity, tobacco, or alcohol consumption) can reduce the risk of suffering from a chronic condition or, if already present, can reduce its burden. A corresponding change in lifestyle is, however, only implemented by a fraction of those affected, partly because of missing or inadequate interventions or health literacy, partly due to socio‐cultural influences. Individual personal coaching of these individuals is neither scalable nor financially sustainable.