Defining Digital Health

Science & Technology Convergence

What’s Digital Health?

According to Paul Sonnier, Head of Digital Health Strategy at Popper and Company, “Digital Health is the convergence of the digital and genetics revolutions with health and healthcare. He sees digital health as empowering us to better track, manage, and improve our own and our family’s health. It’s also helping to reduce inefficiencies in healthcare delivery, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalized and precise.”

I completely agree with Paul and am happy to share his 2-minute animated video, which illustrates the essential elements of digital health.


Science & Technology Convergence

The video introduces the convergence of information science and genetics and the six characters that are rebooting medicine and healthcare. Those characgters are 0 & 1 (the binary digits of information processing) and A, C, G & T (the four nucleic acid bases that make up DNA). This convergence is just part of the story and is consistent with my earlier article on Moore’s Law and the FUTURE of Healthcare, where I consider extrapolations of Moore’s Law, with technology getting cheaper, faster and smaller and information science (processors & networks) converging with cognitive & neuroscience (neuron signaling) and biology (chemistry, genes & proteins).

As small computer processors shrink to the size of a cell or smaller, futurists believe they may eventually communicate with individual neurons directly. Nano-scale robots could be injected into the blood stream to seek out and destroy cancer cells. And “smart” drug delivery could deposit medications exactly where they are needed and nowhere else. But even though this is many years out, it raises new security concerns and the need for body firewalls to prevent our medical sensors from being hacked.

Syllogism examples in healthcareTerminology Tower of Babel

Paul’s video also presents a sometimes confusing lexicon of terms that include mHealth, wireless health, Health 2.0, eHealth, HealthIT, big data & health data, cloud computing, e-patients, quantified self & self tracking, wearable computing, gamification, telehealth & telemedicine, precision medicine & personalized medicine, and connected health.

If that’s not confusing enough, there’s often disagreement when defining each of these terms. mHealth, for example, is generally used to describe Mobile health, as in the use of digital smartphones. But elderly health consumers may see mobile health differently, such as the ambulance that arrives at their door and takes them to the hospital. It’s obviously mobile, and it provides healthcare.

A few months ago I weighed in on that part of the debate to define mHealth as Modern Health so it could encompass the entire lexicon that the video presented.

The Infographic

I added a link to Paul’s blog under our Resources tab and include an infographic about the science & technology convergence that he helped produce below.

Digital Health Infographic