Digitization of healthcare will upend its supply chain
- According to a new Accenture survey, "Consumer use of mobile and tablet health apps has tripled over the past four years, from 16% in 2014 to 48% today," part of a growing digital revolution in healthcare.
- Mobile technology and digitization is changing how healthcare services are administered, leading to a more cooperative disbursement of healthcare involving both doctors, patients and technology.
- The study also noted "consumers are increasingly using a variety of digital self-service tools for managing their health," and "the use of wearable devices by consumers has nearly quadrupled in the past four years, from just 9% in 2014 to 33% today."
Patients are increasingly using wearable technology and mobile apps to track and monitor their health, creating interesting implications for the healthcare supply chain. The tech reduces pressure on doctors, hospitals and pharmacies to provide certain necessary services to the patient (an exception — prescription drugs), but it also allows insurers to glean more accurate health information from the insured.
According to the study, which surveyed 2,301 consumers, "The percentage of consumers willing to share with their insurance carrier personal data collected from their wearable devices has increased over the past year, from 63% in 2016 to 72% today."
Additionally, "One in five respondents (19%) said they have already used AI-powered healthcare services, and most said they are likely to use AI-enabled clinical services, such as home-based diagnostics (cited by 66% of respondents), virtual health assistants (61%) and virtual nurses that monitor health conditions, medications and vital signs at home (55%)."
That could lead to a winnowing of the healthcare industry; as patients rely more and more on technology to deliver certain health services, doctors may evolve to provide only more advanced care, especially if retailers move deeper into the pharmacy and healthcare business.
The tech also cuts out the industry middleman, reducing the need for lower-ranking medical professionals whose services are now absorbed by various apps and wearables. These kinds of apps and wearables could eventually even signal refills of prescription medication or inform doctors of health changes to prescribe or modify prescription drugs, thus accelerating the drug supply chain.
Furthermore, digitization has the capacity to reduce overhead costs for doctors and patients alike with regard to the traditional doctor's visit. "One quarter (25%) of respondents said they had received virtual care services in the previous year, up from 21% in last year’s survey. ...More than half (54%) of survey respondents said they believe that virtual care reduces medical costs to patients, and 43% said they like the timely care that virtual technology provides."
This kind of disruption could actually pull consumers away from traditional doctor's offices and hospitals. Retailers are already meddling in the healthcare space, and Silicon Valley is making big splashes as well. Healthcare is on the edge of massive transformation, and technology can streamline the flow of health products and services.
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