In a quest to integrate digital tools, health systems see value in targeting chronic conditions

Patient wearable doc tablet
Hospitals are inundated with new digital solutions, but many are focusing their efforts on technology that meets specific needs. (Photo credit: Getty/powerofforever)

As hospitals search for effective digital health solutions, some providers are finding success with mobile apps that target several chronic conditions.

Major hospital systems like Rush University Medical Center, the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare are building a body of evidence around new technology that can improve outcomes associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That success can be hard to come by in an industry that is increasingly inundated with new technology and apps claiming to solve some of healthcare’s most complex illnesses. More patients are using digital health tools ranging from telehealth to wearable devices, but physicians still find the data generated from those tools untrustworthy or overwhelming.

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Sifting through those solutions can be a time-consuming process for many hospitals.

“We have to figure out how to prioritize these thousands of ideas that come at us every week,” Mike Dandorph, president of Rush University Medical Center told WSJ. “When we try innovative ideas, we must ask, does it advance outcomes, provide a good patient experience and change the overall cost of care?”

Recently, Rush University has invested in several health technologies including smart pills, electronic house calls and messaging software.

Those investments are part of a growing trend among some of the nation’s largest health systems to conduct target technology that can assist with chronic illnesses. Intermountain, for example, has partnered with Omada Health to identify and intervene on patients with prediabetes. Temple University’s Temple Lung Center has developed an app that allows patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to report symptoms through a smartphone. A computer algorithm alerts clinicians if those symptoms deviate from the norm.

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“By linking the provider directly to the patient, we can get therapy to them sooner rather than later and prevent things from getting worse,” Gerard Criner, director of the Temple Lung Center told WSJ.

These investments also come at a time when the Food and Drug Administration is overhauling its approach to digital health that will offer more guidance for manufacturers and speed innovation, potentially adding a new wave of solutions for clinicians to use.