In a recent article, Goldman Sachs described their estimate of the digital health market as "indefinitely large" (see: Goldman Sachs: $32.4 Billion Digital Health Market; Savings “Indefinitely Large”). Contained in the article were two tables that were of interest to me. The first was a description by the firm of the three vertical markets comprising digital health:
- Remote patient monitoring: heart disease, COPF/asthma, diabetes; ~$15B commercial opportunity
- Telehealth: routine and psychological care; ~$12B commercial opportunity
- Behavior modification: obesity, smoking cessation, lifestyle improvement; ~$6B commercial opportunity
The second of the two tables contained what they believe to be the five challenges facing companies entering the digital health market:
- FDA regulation
- Patient adoption
- Doctor acceptance
Relating to doctor acceptance of digital health initiatives, the third item in this list, they added the following comment:
According to the 2015 HIMSS mobile technology survey 84% of healthcare organizations have attempted to integrate mobile into their health offerings in some way shape or form. Only 18%, however, see their current offerings as viable. We believe that care providers want to engage with digital health but await better technologies.
With regard to physician and nurse acceptance of digital health (i.e., remote patient monitoring, telehealth, behavior modification), I believe that it's correct to say that many may declare that they are awaiting better technology. However, the technology may never be deemed adequate by them. In other words, they describe it as inadequate or immature as an excuse for an unwillingness to adopt it.
For a hospital interested in deploying telemedicine ambulatory care visits (see: Cleveland Clinic Launches Web Site to Offer Physician Visits to Ohio Residents), I believe that that best strategy is to publicly announce that the institution is offering such a service and then reward the physicians and nurses who embrace it. Such individuals are committing themselves to extra work to learn how to work in the new environment. They are also taking a major risk by embracing new technology and thus deserve special benefits.
I also believe that some hospital executives will wander into a digital pathology project only half-heartedly in an attempt to appear to be innovative. My advice to physicians and nurses who are asked to sign up for a telemedicine initiative would be to ask the following question, at least to themselves: does the hospital C-suite have a record of success in new initiatives in terms of "sticking to their guns" and allocating sufficient resources for success in such ventures?