Study: Digital health solutions may save US health system $100 billion
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Accenture, in a new report, estimates that FDA-approved digital health solutions — an Internet-connected device or software created for detection or treatment of a medical indication — may have saved up to $6 billion in cost savings last year, primarily driven by medication adherence, behavior modifications and fewer emergency room visits.
The firm, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, said it expects that figure to rise to $10 billion this year, $18 billion in 2016, $30 billion in 2017 and $50 billion in 2018. The report also predicts that FDA approvals of digital health solutions will triple by the end of 2018, to 100, from 33 last year.
All totaled, digital health solutions are expected to save the U.S. healthcare system more than $100 billion over the next four years.
"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," Rick Ratliff, managing director of digital health solutions at Accenture, said in a statement.
Health IT mandates, payment reform and regulatory changes will accelerate the growth of FDA-approved digital solutions. Additionally, increased use of health IT among physicians because of meaningful use will continue enabling devices and solutions to integrate with patient portals and digital health records.
There is also growing demand for patients to self-manage care. The number of U.S. consumers who own a wearable fitness device will double in the next five years, it is estimated, from 22 percent this year to 43 percent by 2020. More than half (57 percent) of U.S. consumers self-track their health information online, such as medical history (cited by 37 percent of respondents), physical activity (34 percent) and symptoms (33 percent).
Also, a shift to value-based reimbursement is creating opportunities for clinical and business strategies that incorporate devices at the point of care. Accenture estimates digital health funding will reach $6.5 billion by 2018.
"The proliferation of Internet-connected solutions and evolving regulatory guidelines are blurring the lines between clinical and consumer health solutions," Ratliff said. "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."
Accenture gathered a number of digital health solutions that received FDA 510(k) clearance from 2010 through 2014. The analysis focused on devices and software created for medical indications that are FDA-regulated but incorporate consumer-driven principles, such as mobility, user experience, industrial design and always-on connectivity. Analysis included review of secondary sources and examination of regulatory, clinical and other market trends.
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