The U.S. healthcare system is in a state of flux. It’s been following its traditional model for care for generations, which has led to a largely inefficient system. Connected health solutions have become a real opportunity to address some of the obstacles to improving care delivery and bridging the gap between healthcare needs and providers’ ability to deliver quality outcomes.
There may no better time for this evolution to be happening. A convergence of several trends set up the healthcare community to drive positive change and bridge the gap between an increase in healthcare needs and increasing costs, system-wide waste, and a shortage of healthcare professionals.
Younger generations – including the Millennial generation, which is the largest group in the U.S. workforce – are generally less satisfied with traditional healthcare models than older generations. As digital natives, they are tech savvy and their healthcare preferences show it: 71% want their doctors to make use of mobile apps for booking appointments, sharing health data, and managing care. It also stands to reason that digital-native physicians will be more in tune with new healthcare technologies and help drive their use.
Broadband and Mobile Proliferation
More than 91% of Americans now own smartphones, including more than half of senior citizens and 71% of rural residents. In addition, 90% of Americans use the internet, including 73% of seniors. This increased use of digital devices and applications can provide increased access to connected health services for a broader population segment.
The U.S. spends nearly 18% of its GDP on healthcare, more than any other country. Nearly a third of that spend is considered wasteful and comes from systemic inefficiencies that can result in physician stress and burnout. The automation, access, coordination, communication, and analytics enabled by connected health are necessary to help reduce waste and optimize healthcare spend and provider time.
As much as $300 billion is attributed to medication non-adherence annually. That would be about 10% of the country’s annual healthcare spend that can at least partially be avoided. Digital technologies to more effectively monitor adherence and health data can help providers intervene more quickly to help reduce additional costs resulting from medication issues.
An Aging Population, Aging in Place
The American population is getting older, and adults over 65 will outnumber children by 2034, putting increased strain on the healthcare system, including a growing need to manage more patients with chronic conditions. In addition, most Americans older than 50 say their preference is to age in place. Both of these factors point to a need for increased use of technology to create better care models.
While the temporary measures enacted during the pandemic were intended to be temporary, they laid the groundwork for increased flexibility for the future. As a result of the significant increase in adoption – which resulted in nearly half of Americans being able to replace cancelled visits with telehealth engagements – more than 300 healthcare organizations have petitioned Congress to make some of the changes permanent. There’s also a success record, with the majority of patients who have used telehealth have had positive experiences.
The good news is change is already happening. Connected health usage has been slowly increasing over the past several years – and the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated even more providers to increase their use of new technologies. At the same time, while physician burnout rates are still high (42%), that’s a slight drop from five years ago. With the continuing advances in technology, connected health is a real opportunity for the healthcare community to leverage innovation to create a more efficient system and increase the quality of care it can provide.
To learn more about how connected health solutions can help drive better patient outcomes, connect with us here.