Around the world, healthcare systems are facing immense pressure due to escalating
expenses, an exponential increase in the demand for health services as the world’s population
ages and grows, and healthcare budgets that are becoming constrained. For example,
healthcare expenses in the US currently represent approximately 18% of the GNP, and it’s
expected to grow 5.8% annually until 2024.[1]

The unprecedented rise in the global aging population has been accompanied by a parallel
increase in the prevalence of chronic illnesses. Chronic diseases require long-term treatment,
continuous monitoring for detection of anomalies, and prompt medical intervention as and when
required. The long-term management and treatment of chronic diseases in the aging population
currently accounts for approximately 86% of healthcare expenses. [2]
Given these challenges, the healthcare industry is transforming the way it delivers
care to an increasing patient population with limited financial resources and tight budgets.

Digital Healthcare refers to the use of information technology tools, services, and processes to
deliver health care services enhanced by new technologies such as smartphone apps, social
networks and internet applications used at home. Digital Healthcare is leading the
transformation, i.e., with healthcare medical practices and delivery enabled by innovations in
technology and life sciences and facilitating a fundamental shift in the age-old process of
healthcare. It can alter the healthcare industry dramatically by making diagnosis, treatment, and
prevention widely accessible at a fraction of current costs. Although digital healthcare cannot
provide a cure for all the terminal ailments, it can significantly contribute to improvements in the
life of patients.

People with chronic conditions are the most frequent users of health care in the U.S; they currently account for 81% of hospital admissions. [3] For such patients, Population Health Management is a specialty within the healthcare industry that studies and improves care delivery across patients with similar chronic conditions. One of the goals of population health management is to limit the use of stretched hospital resources by trying to prevent the need for hospital care. An important goal of population health management is to collect and analyze clinical data on segments of the patient population that can reveal opportunities to manage specific diseases within that community better while improving the provider’s financial outcomes.

The mobile app is very beneficial in population health management by expediting the hospital
discharge process. During this process, patients can view their chronic-condition management
plan using their mobile device, allowing them hands-on experience in using the app before
leaving the hospital. After leaving the hospital, patient engagement is additionally facilitated
through their mobile app where they can review their discharge plan and other medical
information. The mobile app gives them the opportunity to daily enter in their vital information
such as blood pressure, conduct check-ins to go over possible symptoms and confirm that the
patient has taken their medications correctly. Studies show that such mobile apps at home are
feasible to patients and both clinicians and patients approve them. Health care providers report
that the app makes it easier for them to monitor patients outside of the hospital and improve
time efficiency.

Sensing via wearable biomedical sensors, smart biomedical clothing, and other monitoring
devices has enabled the collection, monitoring, and analysis of physiological patient data
throughout the day without the need to have the patients on location. It allows healthcare
professionals and clinicians the ability to prevent medical problems and emergencies before
they appear. This ability is particularly relevant when monitoring critical personal health care
indicators such as glucose levels and blood pressure. Through the process of patients actively
involved in tracking their data, it can help them overcome the medical conditions from which
they’re afflicted and protect a better quality of life.

Hospitals are now producing and collecting unprecedented large amounts of data on patients
every single day. Our ability to use new technologies to understand, analyze and leverage this
massive amount of data signifies the age of Big Data in the healthcare domain. For managing
chronic diseases, these new technologies make it possible for vast quantities of data to be
collected from thousands of patients and devices. This data can then be used within extremely
large-scale studies to analyze different treatment options and pathways based on the
requirements of each patient.

Hospitals are now partnering with healthcare providers outside of their network to share such
clinical information used in analyzing interventions aimed at key chronic disease patient groups.
Simply put, the patient acts as a human sensor – providing real-time healthcare data that
translates into actionable insights for themselves. This patient data is also sent into larger
medical research platforms that let medical researchers gather robust and meaningful data from
many sources that are then analyzed to improve the wider community’s care.

An example of this, is CancerLinQ, a Big Data solution that enables clinical data sharing and
analysis on a large scale. CancerLinQ allows clinicians and researchers to move beyond the
average three percent of patients represented in oncology clinical trials today, and access
insights from the other 97% of cancer patient data that was previously locked away in
unconnected files and servers. [4]

In sum, the delivery of healthcare is being impacted by new technologies that relies on Big Data
for design and development. Digital healthcare in turn is changing the expectations about healthcare for all stakeholders including doctors, insurers and patients. Although digital healthcare is still in its infancy, the opportunities and challenges are vast and the development of innovative products and services has merely just begun.


[1] Sean P. Keehan, Health Affairs, (accessed April 12, 2017)

[2] Gerard Anderson, Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care
(Princeton, N.J.: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2010), ( accessed April 24,2017)

[3] Partnership to fight chronic disease
et_81009.pdf ( accessed April 10, 2017)

[4] Andy David, The Digital Future Of Healthcare (
accessed April 12, 2017).