Digital Health: A New Dimension in Rheumatology Patient Care

05.15.18   |   Strategy & Innovation

Originally published in Rheumatology International

The Stem Digital Health Consultant, Dr. Suchitra Kataria recently published an expert opinion article in Rheumatology International reviewing newer approaches in digital health such as telemedicine, intelligent robots, remote monitoring, bio-electronics, and the ways in which they would help a rheumatologist in enhancing patient care. 

Abstract

The new digital health innovations have opened up several opportunities to help the clinicians, patients and other caregivers of rheumatology healthcare system in maximizing efficiencies resulting in better patient outcomes. In the global context, digital health technology has the potential to bridge the distance gap between all the key stakeholders involved in rheumatology health care.

In this review, we update on the recent advances in the field of digital health and highlight unique features of these technologies which would help in routine care. Application of technology in any form to enable, facilitate or enhance the quality of care is the foundation of digitised care. The components could be smartphone apps, sensors, video, social media platforms or messenger platforms, wearables or a combination of these enabling healthcare delivery and overcoming the constraints of distance, location and time. Digital therapeutics have started evolving and an important step in this direction is the involvement of FDA in the approval process. Speciality specific apps, personalised patient education as per disease status, remote specialist consultations or virtual health coach to guide on lifestyle modifications are some of the developments which have been facilitated by increased digitization in all walks of life. Assisted care with the help of robots rendering care in the hospitals or an intelligent robot guiding a patient by voice and visual sense at home are already at the threshold of entering the mainstream of patient care. Wearable devices equipped with powerful sensors are coming handy in keeping a watch on patient symptoms all the time and providing useful insights on disease progression, clinical response or complications. In chronic care such as rheumatology the implications, possibilities and benefits seem unprecedented. Real time data analytics and artificial intelligence are helping the clinicians, healthcare systems and policy makers optimise the resources and improve patient outcomes.

Digitization of healthcare has gained momentum in the recent years and it is envisaged that it could be a catalyst to change, bridge the quality of care and most important democratise the healthcare access across the globe. However, more data, efficacy and objective results are needed which would be fulfilled by ongoing observational studies, clinical trials, systematic review and meta-analysis to further establish the role of digital health in the realms of patient care.

For the entire study, please go to Rheumatology International.

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