In The Know: Payer views — The growth of digital health

“In the United States, more and more insurers have now authorised their patients to use telemedicine services. Why? Because there's high satisfaction with telemedicine.”

-- Digital health expert based in the US

Source: FirstWord Paying for Digital Health -- Payer Insights (2018)

Without a doubt, digital health has the potential to disrupt healthcare—from predictive diagnosis, through drug discovery, to patient engagement and proactive healthcare. Pharmaceutical companies are exploring innovative solutions, for example, through collaboration with technology companies. However, recent research suggests there may also be opportunities for companies to partner with other stakeholders, including payers, to diversify their business models and find new ways to support advances in digital health.

On the development of the digital healthcare infrastructure, one US payer, interviewed as part of the research, commented that the cost of technologies such as data analytics platforms and electronic medical records is often picked up by those who provide and pay for the healthcare. In this case, it is the hospitals, clinics and the insurers that are fronting these costs. “They are the ones who are driving the adoption of the back-end systems,” the US payer said.

In Germany, a new e-Health initiative has been initiated that mandates that when doctors buy digital health infrastructure, the Krankenkassen, or sick funds (non-governmental health insurance funds), reimburse a percentage of the cost. Prior to this new legislation, a German payer interviewed said that most payers were not willing to fund digital health infrastructure, but that now they are required to do so, doctors are driving the adoption of these technologies.

As deployment of digital health technology grows across the US and EU, payers are becoming increasing vocal on the value that advances in the field can bring.

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