Digital Health and Behavioral Modification

imgresThis is the second in a three-part series looking at how digital health is transforming healthcare.

Last week, I talked about how the digital healthcare revolution has arrived and its potential applications, including telehealth. Another way this digital transformation is changing healthcare is how it affects behavioral modification and adaptation.

Over the past few years, I have noticed a significant culture change in my patients. They are more knowledgeable about their health in general, more informed about management options and more likely to want to work toward an improved level of health. They also tend to be more open about sharing their health profiles and results with family members and friends and more inclined to gradually change their behavior if they can get real-time feedback illustrating the impact of their efforts. Digital health technology provides this feedback and can be as simple as providing daily step counts or charting caloric intake vs calories burned, or more complex by combining live physiologic monitoring with complete past medical histories to create a real time health dashboard.

True success, however, can be achieved when patient behaviors are modified using customized health programs based on individual profiles.  Digital health applications are rapidly evolving as a method for affecting behavior through customized, real time interventions that can be adapted for each individual based on prior outcomes, previous responses to intervention, current physiologic and psychologic parameters, environmental and social context, as well as a range of other variables that influence the state of an individual’s health. These tools allow us to change our focus from differences between individuals to differences within a single person over time.

As more and more data sources become available and integrated into the feedback loop in a manner that provides value, we will see a continued increase in people intimately engaged and driving their own healthcare.

We’ll be wrapping up this blog series with a look at remote patient monitoring, so be sure to check back on Mobile Health Matters.