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Digital Health Comes of Age

In March, the World Health Organization unveiled plans to create a Department of Digital Health to harness “the power of digital health and innovation by supporting countries to assess, integrate, regulate and maximize the opportunities of digital technologies and artificial intelligence.” Many months of planning and consultation among the heads of the WHO resulted in this plan to make the organization more effective, with the goal of helping countries use digital technologies and innovation to support their population’s healthcare delivery. And they aren’t the only ones – an opinion piece published by European cardiology leaders recently emphasized that national health systems should be doing a better job integrating digital health into the delivery of routine healthcare. In the U.S., the Consumer Technology Association, a group that includes industry leaders such as IBM and Fitbit, hopes to advance the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare to improve outcomes and cut costs for providers.

Recently, a number of leading institutions have begun to recognize digital health as a significant element in providing healthcare. New York-based Mount Sinai Health System is partnering with German IT experts of the Hasso Platner Institute to develop leading-edge technology with the goal of better health outcomes. With a focus on researching predictive and preventative digital health tools, the Hasso Platner Institute for Digital Health at Mount Sinai will test prototype tools for patients, providers and health systems in the U.S. and Europe.

Mount Sinai is far from alone in these ventures. The Cleveland Clinic is another major organization that recently created its own digital health-related entity. The Center for Clinical Artificial Intelligence is tasked with innovating new uses for AI and machine learning in the healthcare field. The Center’s goal is not only to improve communication and collaboration between physicians, researchers and data scientists, it also hopes to improve patient care and advance medical research.

With so many big players taking notice and making digital health a priority, even small practices and healthcare providers will benefit in the future from these organizations’ advancements. Whether they want to glean data from their electronic systems to improve care, or use AI and telehealth tools to improve effective delivery of care to patients, healthcare organizations will implement new technology that has been refined thanks to these initiatives. And while there are still few studies demonstrating the impact of many digital health products, with constant innovations and adjustments made based on the feedback of their users, these tools will offer ever better experiences for patients and the healthcare providers who serve them.