FDA-regulated digital health solutions are expected to save the U.S. healthcare system more than $100 billion over the next four years, according to Accenture.
These devices and software have already achieved $6 billion in cost savings last year, primarily driven by medication adherence, behavior modifications and fewer emergency room visits. In 2015, this figure will rise to $10 billion, growing to $18 billion in 2016, $30 billion in 2017, and finally to $50 billion in 2018. Accenture also predicts that FDA approvals of digital health solutions will triple by the end of 2018, going from 33 last year to 100.
A shift to value-based reimbursement is creating fertile ground for clinical and business strategies that incorporate digital health devices.A number of factors will drive the growth of this market, including health IT mandates, payment reform and regulatory changes:
- Driven by federal Meaningful Use mandates, the increased use of healthcare IT among physicians and patients will continue enabling integration with patient portals and digital health records.
- Growing demand for patients to self-manage care will help, with over half (57%) of U.S. consumers already self-tracking their health information online, such as medical history (cited by 37% of respondents), physical activity (34%) and symptoms (33%). Accenture estimates the number of U.S. consumers who own a wearable fitness device will double in the next five years, from 22% this year to 43% by 2020.
- Recently released regulatory guidelines for low-risk health products, establishing a line between when a wellness tool – such as a heart rate monitor – becomes a medical device, will enable more clarity on the process, expedite regulatory pathways and is expected to drive 30% annual growth of these solutions through 2018.
- A shift to value-based reimbursement is creating fertile ground for clinical and business strategies that incorporate [digital health] devices.
“The proliferation of internet-connected solutions and evolving regulatory guidelines are blurring the lines between clinical and consumer health solutions,” said Rick Ratliff, managing director of digital health solutions at Accenture. “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.”