Earlier this week, Fortune Magazine hosted a conference of paramount importance: Brainstorm Health. The theme was “Venturing Through The Unknown,” and the conference brought together prominent speakers from across the industry to discuss and contemplate some of healthcare’s most challenging issues. These speakers ranged from public health stalwarts such as U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and White House Coronavirus Repsonse Coordinator Deborah Brix, to leaders in academia and innovators in the private sector.
The focus of the conference was to cover a variety of topics pertinent to the modern landscape of healthcare, including: “innovations and challenges in prevention and wellness; health equity; mental health; research and development; and privacy in an increasingly digital world.”
One prominent topic that was discussed was the future of healthcare delivery, where healthcare-at-home was excitedly contemplated.
Healthcare-at-home is a concept that has increasingly become popular nationally, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Given stay-at-home restrictions and social isolation orders during the pandemic, patients realized the incredible potential value in receiving their healthcare services in the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, the pandemic also introduced a new layer of complexity for patients and their families: in many situations, patients that got admitted to the hospital during the pandemic could not have their family members in the hospital with them given the risk of infection; this was a significant source of distress for many.
Thus, the wider concept of healthcare-at-home is attempting to solve problems like these, in addition to becoming an impetus for better healthcare delivery through: closer monitoring of patients, by providing patients with an environment they prefer, and utilizing technology to increase diagnostic and monitoring capabilities.
At the conference, Jean Olive, Chief Technology Officer at Best Buy Health, discussed how the technology and devices used in hospitals are not particularly complex or difficult to bring to home: “We have devices, we can connect devices through Wi-Fi, we can build platforms, we can manage and monitor those devices, we can set alerts and know when there’s a differentiation.”
And the technology really has become incredibly robust. Telehealth capabilities have grown significantly over the last few years, enabled by better video and audio consumer technologies (e.g., smart phones, tablets, etc.), and improved telecommunications and internet infrastructure.
Remote monitoring technology has also advanced. The United States Department of Health and Human Services describes the wide range of use-cases remote monitoring can be utilized for: “There are many symptoms and conditions that can be tracked through remote patient monitoring, including: High blood pressure, Diabetes, Weight loss or gain, Heart condition, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Sleep apnea, Asthma.”
This list is certainly non-exhaustive, and there are new monitoring technologies being released daily. Indeed, many technology companies are attempting to innovate in this arena. Not only are there consumer-facing devices such as the Apple Watch that provide the consumer with granular data regarding their own health (e.g., EKG, oxygen saturation, sleep metrics, etc.), but there are now also devices that can monitor patients remotely and directly provide information to the supervising healthcare provider.
Olive further discussed: “people want to stay in their home. There’s so much opportunity. We just have to change the culture, get the adoption, and really try to change some of the payer models.”
The Fortune article also quotes Vignesh Shetty, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Edison AI and Platform for GE Healthcare: “Home is increasingly being seen as an ‘extension of care,’ forming one end of a continuum of care, with the hospital at the other end.”
Without a doubt, healthcare-at-home is here to stay in some form or fashion. Experts indicate that this market will grow at an 8.4% CAGR over the next seven years, and will be worth billions of dollars in market valuation in the coming decade. This is for good reason, and may provide the infrastructure needed for patients that increasingly prefer convenience, ease-of-use, and care in the comfort of their own homes.