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Connected Patient Concerns

Jun 2, 2023

Innovative technology has been vital to the growth and evolution of health care companies. Connected health uses technology to provide remote health care services and better access to medical information, which allows for improved real-time decision making. Some examples of ways connected patients can use these connected health platforms include making appointments, uploading data from patient monitoring devices, checking lab results, requesting prescription refills and using telehealth for non-emergency and routine monitoring appointments. These platforms also make it easier for doctors to collaborate with other medical providers, pharmacists and patients or their caregivers. The increase in collaboration will give all users access to more accurate and relevant information at their fingertips. 

As with any new technology, there are some concerns that need to be addressed early on to push the technology toward long-term durability. Two important connected patient concerns are 1) accessibility and ease of use and 2) data privacy and cybersecurity.

Accessibility and Ease of Use

The goal of connected health is to make health care more easily accessible, so why would accessibility be a concern? Various factors could impact how accessible the connected health platform is to a user. One important factor is connectivity. There are rural areas that do not have internet access as easily available as more populated regions. Those users may rely more heavily on an app-based technology, assuming they use a smart phone. On the other side, any app-based technology may not be accessible to non-smart phone users. Those individuals would need an internet-based option. For users who do not have smart phone capabilities or reliable internet access, it will be important to provide access for those individuals so they are not lost in the digital divide. Finally, the technology needs to be user-friendly and intuitive to draw and maintain users across generations.  It will be important to provide proper tutorials to both patients and health care providers, along with access to knowledgeable and trained individuals that will be able to help users trouble shoot if issues arise.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

A key benefit of connected health is that there will be a digital database that will make information easily trackable and reduce the risk of errors. However, this also gives rise to a significant risk and concern for patients regarding the security of their patient data. The news is filled with articles regarding cybersecurity breaches that impact both small and large companies and expose varying degrees of data.  Patient confidentiality is important in developing trust between patients and medical professionals. Disclosing or having data hacked and shared with third parties without a patient’s consent violates the principles of informed consent. Accordingly, earning and maintaining a patient’s digital trust is key to the resilience of connected health technologies and giving patients peace of mind. To accomplish this, privacy and data security should be priorities of companies that are developing or utilize connected health platforms. Individuals in leadership positions of health care companies using this technology, including physicians and hospital groups, will require independent security assessments of these platforms before entrusting patient data to them. Additionally, after initial roll out of the platform, security will need to be consistently monitored to ascertain whether the most up-to-date technologies are being implemented and that patient data remains secure.

The goal of connected health is to provide actionable data, such as machine-to-machine data or scientific and research information, to health care providers, patients, and insurance companies, which will accelerate and improve decision-making. Connected health has seen a lot of investment since the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest industry sector for venture capital deals from 2020 through 2022 was healthtech, according to Dealroom,  indicating that this technology is the way of the future. While users may have some initial concerns, as more time and money are invested into developing and improving the technology, along with providing proper training, these concerns will ease. Early and frequent strategic thinking about risks and user concerns will help build a sustainable technology that, all diagnostics show, will help transform health care.

Catalyst - Our Current Issue: Q2 2023

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Courtney Gasper

Courtney Gasper is a Senior Audit Manager with nearly 10 years of experience serving both public and private entities.

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