How Digital Health Technology Is Reshaping The Fight Against Chronic Disease

by | May 12, 2021

Digital health technology is changing the future of healthcare in the same disruptive and all-encompassing ways as the automobile changed travel and the internet revolutionized information.

As part of the information revolution, digital behavioral health platforms are reshaping the way patients receive healthcare, interact with healthcare providers and manage their health.

While advances in telehealth and telemedicine have been making strong advances, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought them into the spotlight.

We’re going to explore the rapidly growing digital health market and its perfect position to combat chronic disease and dramatically cut healthcare costs.

What Are Telehealth And Telemedicine?

Telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably when discussing the digital health revolution. Although both rely on the coordination of the internet, digital communications (cell phones, tablets, computers), and smart tech, they’re two slightly different things.

So what’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?

  • Telemedicine is the use of electronic health information via digital communications to support long-distance clinical healthcare. This includes diagnosis and treatment of conditions, disease screening, and management of medications. It can be thought of as a more traditional patient/doctor/nurse interaction.
  • Telehealth uses the same tech and healthcare professional interaction but includes a wider variety of healthcare services. These include chronic disease management, behavior and health coaching, mental health care, medical education, and more.

These technologies aren’t new. They’ve been around for years, slowly gaining acceptance but remaining underutilized.

That all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

COVID-19 Brings Digital Health Tech Into The Spotlight

Before COVID-19, even with its advances, telemedicine remained in the background of healthcare. Mental health services were seeing wider adoption of the technology, but only about 4% of the population were being reached according to a study by the RAND Corporation1.

COVID-19 changed that. With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, digital health technologies were in the right place at the right time. People still needed healthcare and digital healthcare proved ready.

Under the CARES Act, the government relaxed certain restrictions allowing broader access and expanding Medicare coverage to include telemedicine.

Since then, telehealth and telemedicine use has exploded by more than 600% found by another study2.

This is not a flash in the pan reaction to COVID-19. The healthcare landscape has been forever changed by the success of telemedicine during the pandemic.

Digital technologies are expanding across the board and proving ideal in tackling the health problem that kills more Americans while costing trillions in healthcare costs annually: chronic diseases.

Why Digital Technology Is Perfect For Managing Chronic Disease

Chronic disease is responsible for more deaths, healthcare costs, and lowered quality of life than any other disease or condition. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) numbers tell the story:

  • 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease
  • 4 in 10 have two or more chronic diseases
  • More than 34 million have diabetes (costing $327 billion)
  • Obesity affects 42% of adults, putting them at risk for other chronic diseases
  • 20-25% are actively suffering a mental health condition

When it comes to economic costs, the numbers are just as mind-boggling:

  • 90% of the U.S. $3.8 trillion healthcare budget is spent on chronic conditions
  • Chronic diseases cost employers $153 billion per year in lost productivity

How can telehealth technology attack such an enormous health crisis?

Telehealth behavior monitoring platforms employ real-time biometric data, access to health coaches, customizable apps, educational materials, and emotional health support to create a powerful lifestyle change tool.

Access is easy and intuitive with cell phone apps and online platforms. Users can see their successes and missteps while health coaches can use data to tailor user-specific health plans and provide support.

And most importantly, all of this can be done in the comfort and privacy of users’ homes on their own time.

While there are many health and behavior management platforms available today, there are two crucial components that most providers fail to capitalize on.

Where Most Digital Behavior Monitoring Platforms Fall Short

Where do they fall short? Adherence and emotional health support.

Adherence failure is the leading reason most people with chronic disease fail to improve their condition when using a behavior monitoring program. Some studies have found that as high as 80% of enrollees don’t stick with their program3.

Most behavior monitoring programs are self-administered. That means that although a client may have access to a wide variety of health resources, they’re the ones that have to initiate engagement. And often, as the 80% failure rate in adherence shows above, most participants fall off with poor engagement.

In addition to most plans being self-administered, while many behavioral health platforms provide some mental health resources, they fail to recognize the pivotal role emotional and mental health plays in physical health – especially as it relates to chronic disease.

“The evidence shows that mental health is the foundation for overall health,” says Aaron Quinn, Ph.D., licensed Psychologist, CEO, and co-founder of Album Health.

“All health activities and conditions interact with mental health”.

The Solution Is Where Album Health Excels

Album Health is not a self-directed program. It’s the only wellness vendor that actively works to reduce claims and improve health outcomes by taking a proactive role in the client’s health journey.

We like to refer to it as “shepherding”. That means that our health coaches don’t wait for their clients to contact them but rather take immediate action when they see warning signs in biometric data or lapses in contact.

Paired with active health coaching, we address the root cause of so many chronic diseases: poor emotional health.

“The most impactful thing you can do for your overall health is to improve your emotional and mental health” – Quinn.

These two unique factors of AlbumHealth’s approach are why our program is so successful across all conditions and populations. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • More than 5 user engagements per day
  • 84% adherence to health plans
  • 94% user satisfaction
  • 100% of targeted health outcomes improved
  • $2,000 average savings per employee

We don’t just focus on the disease or chronic condition. Our target is the whole person. That’s why one of our driving mottos is: “Creating better health together”.

There are many good options for health behavior change systems available today. But none that attack the problem of chronic disease holistically to provide sustainable health changes.

Let us help you manage and reverse chronic disease, improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs today.

Explore our website to learn more, or feel free to contact us directly.