Digital health is set to transform care delivery with faster innovation cycles and wider consumer engagement, according to digital investment trend analyst Mary Meeker in her latest annual Internet Trends report, with the sector now a prime attraction for investor dollars.

As venture companies circle start-ups and Silicon Valley companies move in to bankroll health, fitness, diagnostic, medication and medical care tools, the report analyses the rapid pace of tech transformation and looks at the reimagining of healthcare practices.

As data accumulates, research silos are expected to breakdown, giving rise to greater sharing among the scientific community and accelerating insights, Meeker’s report says.

The evolution of genomics has decreased the amount of time it takes to sequence a genome from 10 months in 2007 to 27 hours in 2015, contributing to a rapid increase in diagnostic tests for genetic disorders and creating an industry in personalised therapeutics.

Consumers are expected to increasingly demand digital health services, leading to a growing number of health apps and industry adoption of electronic health records.

About 26 million wearables were shipped in 2014, 82 million in 2015 and 102 million in 2016, according to research and consulting firm IDC, the Meeker report cited, with the second most common wearable sensor measuring blood pressure and thermometers ranking 11th in popularity.

Considerable digital health activity is occurring in the mobile apps sphere. More than 200 million health and fitness mobile apps were downloaded in 2016, just over 2015’s 200 million, according to app measurement firm App Annie, as cited by the Meeker report. Of those, 36 per cent related to fitness, 24 per cent disease and treatment, 17 per cent lifestyle and stress, 12 per cent diet and nutrition, and 11 per cent other.

Adoption of electronic medical records is also skyrocketing as hospitals and GPs transition to digital systems, with physicians collecting an average of 26.3 clinical data elements per patient per year, of which 10.5 were clinical results, 4.1 were scanned images, 3.2 were vital signs, 2.9 were current or historical problems, and 5.5 were other elements such as medications and allergens, according to the US Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Meeker claims hospitals are now required to manage 50 petabytes of data. 

The report also lists the leading tech brands positioned to take advantage of the healthcare disruption and says consumers are willing to place health information that was once viewed as highly private in their databases.

Citing the 2016 Rock Health Consumer Survey, Meeker said 60 per cent of consumers are willing to share their health data with Google, 56 per cent with Microsoft, 54 per cent with Samsung, 50 per cent with Apple, 39 per cent with Amazon, 39 per cent with Facebook, and 37 per cent with IBM, in what is a sign of the growing readiness of consumers to support the digital healthcare revolution.



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