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North Carolina-based health system Novant Health launched a digital health and engagement business unit that will bring its virtual care strategies under one roof and bulk up digital offerings for patients. Nearly 1 million Novant Health patients are currently connected to their providers virtually, and Novant likely sees bolstered digital services as a growth pillar.
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Committing to digital health strategies now could put health systems in a good position to reap the benefits of the imminent digital health boom: The global digital health market’s projected to hit $380 billion by 2024, growing 26% annually, according to Market Watch.
Here’s what it means: Novant Health joins a rank of other health firms doubling down on efforts to streamline and build out digital offerings.
- Health systems have unveiled in-house innovation hubs to tap into the springing digital health boom. New York-based Mount Sinai announced last month that it’s creating an innovative institute to develop digital health solutions to accelerate precision medicine, for example. And Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare teamed up with digital health company Sharecare to launch an innovation hub with the goal of developing strategies that will boost patient outcomes.
- Others are betting on digital health startups to harness the power of cutting-edge tech. Mayo Clinic selected a spate of digital health startups to take part in its MedTech Accelerator late last month — and many of the companies it tapped are leveraging buzzy tech like remote patient monitoring. And many US hospitals are pumping funds into health tech startups: The value of funding deals involving hospital-affiliated VCs surpassed $1 billion in 2018 compared with under $600 million in 2013.
The bigger picture: Revving up digital offerings could help health systems engage their patient base and preserve revenue.
- Consumer appetite for digital health tools is on the rise. The share of respondents adopting at least one digital health tool climbed to 87% in 2017, up from 80% two years prior, pointing to growing demand, according to a 2018 Rock Health survey. Further, millennials — who account for the largest portion of the adult population — are more likely to seek out alternative modes of healthcare delivery: 40% of millennials say that telemedicine services are either "extremely" or "very" important, compared with only 27% of Gen Xers. As health systems look to find new ways to attract younger patients, focusing on digital health seems like a strong bet.
- And securing patient satisfaction is becoming increasingly important for health systems. A reimbursement model that’s gaining momentum in healthcare ties a portion of providers’ compensation to patient satisfaction, so providers will need to pay attention to consumer demand for a strong digital experience to hang onto patient loyalty: Shirking digital health offerings could leave health systems waving goodbye to patients, as 90% of patients say they don’t feel obligated to stay with a provider who doesn’t offer a satisfactory digital experience, per a Black Book survey cited in Patient Engagement HIT. Moreover, hospitals with "excellent" patient satisfaction scores report an average net margin of 4.7%, while hospitals with "low" scores report an average of 1.8%. So, hospitals can up the likelihood of hitting revenue goals by boosting patient satisfaction through robust digital offerings.
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