News Feature | September 2, 2015

Digital Health Solutions Expected To Save $100 Billion Over The Next 4 Years

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Digital Health Solutions Expected To Save $100 Billion Over The Next 4 Years

Decision-makers in your client organizations are increasingly cost-focused, and a recent report from Accenture (via Healthcare-Informatics) indicates that one of the best solutions to their problems might be digital health.

The budding technology genre saved the U.S. healthcare industry $6 billion in 2014, and that number is expected to jump to $100 billion over the next four years.

Where The Savings Come From

Accenture expects that these devices could end up saving the industry $10 billion in 2015, $18 billion next year, $30 billion in 2017, and round out 2018 with a savings of $50 billion. The New York City-based firm also predicts that the FDA will increase approvals to triple where they were last year — a jump from 33 to 100.

Accenture’s study assessed the number of digital health solutions receiving FDA 510(k) clearance between 2010 and 2014. They found that factors including payment reform, regulatory changes, and health IT mandates are accelerating the growth of FDA-approved digital solutions.

Savings Drivers

  • Physicians and patients are increasing use: This is driven heavily by Meaningful Use (MU) mandates, which as we move into MU Stage 3, will continue enabling devices and solutions that will integrate well with staples such as electronic health records (EHRs) and patient portals. In a separate survey, Accenture found that a quarter of U.S. doctors were routinely using telemonitoring devices in some aspect of chronic disease management.
  • Guidelines are changing: Regulatory guidelines for low-risk health products have been released, clarifying lines between wellness tools and medical devices. That clarity will help speed up regulatory pathways and it’s expected, will facilitate a 30 percent annual growth in these solutions through 2018.
  • Self-care is increasing patient involvement: Wearable devices have taken off, and Accenture estimates that the number of consumers wearing them will double over the next five years to 43 percent. Another internal survey even found that 57 percent of U.S. consumers self-track health information online, including symptoms, physical activity, and medical history.
  • Value-based reimbursement is changing the game: Clinical and business strategies are morphing to incorporate the benefits of digital health devices and Accenture estimates that funding in this area will reach $6.5 percent by 2018.

Rick Ratliff, managing director of digital health solutions, Accenture shares his thoughts on the industry changes: “A digital disruption is playing out in healthcare, as witnessed by the emergence of new business models and technology that will change the nature of patient interactions, alter consumer expectations and ultimately improve health outcomes. As consumer health platforms support more ‘medical’ devices, rather than just today’s wellness trackers, they’ll create a viable self-care model in a segment that today is occupied by chronic-disease monitoring companies.”