Needed: New breed of digital health tools

So far we have been used to medical breakthroughs in treatment of various conditions in terms of new medicines, where a new pill can be the solution to serious conditions and ailments of various sorts. The new and highly successful obesity drug from Danish manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, is just one example.

But every time a new drug pops up, questions are raised: Wouldn’t it be better to preempt the condition – if at all possible – rather than wait until it occurs and then try to provide medical treatment against it?

Some of those arguments go towards thinking of digital services and tools as a way of being more preemptive and over time reduce the need for often very costly medical treatment. The thinking is that we have the ability to provide tools and services of such a quality that it will efficiently be able to support or even replace doctors looking to preempt serious health conditions.

The argument does have some merit. We do indeed have a lot of knowledge about how to prevent things from happening, and we also have the most basic abilities towards putting those ‘recipes’ into digital tools and services. Yet, we still seem to fall back on high hopes for new drugs and treatments.

I think there is a very good reason for this; preemptive treatment while making a ton of sense is super, super hard for the patient. Think about it for a second: There are limitless examples of people trying to preempt a condition with the support of doctors, coaches, dietitians and whatever, and most of the time, these people still don’t succeed. Often because of the lack of stamina.

Thus I think it’s about time to start thinking about the next generation of digital health tools and services. This will be tools and services that should not only be looking to repackage what is already known about how to prevent certain conditions from occurring. They should also – and perhaps even more – be about how to grow stamina in the patients to help them succeed with the preemptive project so to say.

Until we have digital health tools and services that cater for those more psychological factors in more profound ways, I don’t think digital will play the pivotal role in keeping future costs of medical treatment down that many – including myself – would love to see.

(Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)

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