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December 14, 2022
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7 Digital Health Trends to Watch in 2023, According to Experts

1. There will be more focus on the patient experience.

The healthcare industry is gradually shifting towards a more patient-centric model, where the needs and preferences of individual patients are at the center of care. This shift is driven in part by consumers who are willing to spend between $300 billion and $400 billion on healthcare expenses to proactively manage their health, according to a report by McKinsey & Company.

Digital therapeutic (DTx) solutions are enabling patients to take a more active role in their disease management, leading to an increase in empowered and informed patients. For example, these solutions may provide patients with access to remote monitoring and health tracking tools, allowing them to self-manage their symptoms and progress from the comfort of their own homes.

As a result, healthcare organizations and pharma companies are increasingly looking to embed patient-centricity in their blueprint for growth. By putting patients at the center of their care, companies can improve health outcomes and increase satisfaction with the healthcare experience. This involves tailoring treatment plans to each individual's needs, providing personalized support, and engaging patients in their own care throughout the entire disease journey, from symptom onset to diagnosis, treatment, and management.

Ivar Meyvantsson, Sidekick’s VP of Therapeutic Development, tells me,

Looking ahead, it will be increasingly important  for healthcare organizations to make patient engagement a top priority, and to adopt a more predictive and personalized approach to care.

2. More payers will reimburse digital therapeutic solutions.

As digital therapeutic solutions become more accessible and prevalent in the United States, lawmakers are seeking to establish a national coverage policy for the Medicare population. A bill introduced in the US Senate in early 2022, the Access to Prescription Digital Therapeutics Act, proposes establishing a dedicated Medicare benefit category for prescription digital therapeutics (PDTx).

Providing digital therapeutics through national health insurance programs such as Medicare would make these treatments accessible to 44% of U.S. citizens who receive state healthcare support. This could also lead private insurance companies to increase their coverage of PDTx, making DTx solutions more widely available to everyone.

Pam Stahl, Sidekick’s Chief Commercial Officer & President of North America, is encouraged by these developments,

There is broad and increasing support for the Access to Prescription Digital Therapeutics Act legislation, and we are optimistic about its prospects in the coming years.

Even without this legislation in place, many payers and managed care organizations have already included digital health solutions in their fully insured commercial plans, for example, Kaiser Permanete, Humana and United Healthcare. Some pharmacy benefits managers, including CVS, Evernorth, and ExpressScripts, have also established digital health formularies to cover certain software products as a pharmacy benefit.

3. Big data will pave the way for preventative medicine.

A World Economic Forum study forecasts that the five leading chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, mental health issues, heart disease, and respiratory disease – could cost the global economy $47 trillion in the next two decades. This heavy burden will be too much for our health systems to handle, which is why so many healthcare organizations are transitioning away from a model of intervention towards one of prevention.

Sam Oddsson, Sidekick’s Co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer, says,

The huge amount of healthcare data that has been and continues to accumulate via digital health wearables and digital therapeutic solutions can help doctors and researchers develop more personalized and effective treatments for individual patients.

This data can then be fed into AI or machine-learning algorithms to be analyzed and interpreted, offering medical insights that have never been accessible before. Such analytics offer opportunities for chronic disease prediction and prevention, and ultimately higher-value care.

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4. There will be increased focus on social determinants of health.

Health issues can emerge for reasons other than lack of treatment. Their roots can run deeper to include the social determinants of health (SDOH). These can include factors like income, education, housing, and access to healthcare - factors that are rarely considered in the framework of traditional clinical diagnostics. But health is inseparable from the socioeconomic and environmental factors that underpin it, and as such, greater focus on alleviating the burden of those factors is required in order to achieve health equity.

Agencies like WHO, the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and the Centers for Disease Control have launched healthcare programs and initiatives to address the challenges of SDOH. These data-driven programs can help governments cut healthcare costs by channeling resources to address each social determinant of health at its root. This can lead to better healthcare outcomes, longer life expectancy and a higher quality of life.

Denise Stahl, Sidekick’s Senior Vice President, Clinician Operations, says,

Addressing social determinants of health is crucial to improve health and reduce longstanding disparities in healthcare. Digital therapeutics offer multiple benefits and opportunities and can steer the healthcare system towards a more sustainable, value-based system that offers access to all people and supports whole-person care.

5. Rigorous clinical evidence will separate impactful DTx solutions from wellness programs.

DTx solutions are evidence-based treatments delivered via digital modalities. They can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to prevent, treat, or manage a wide range of medical conditions.

However, with the boom of wellness apps on the general user market in the last four years, the challenge remains to differentiate a DTx as a specific treatment that targets a particular disease or set of diseases in a clinically-effective way. Clinical evidence will be what separates a DTx from a wellness app.  

DTx solutions must be able to demonstrate they have an actively positive, safe, and clinically-relevant effect on the patient. This evidence allows healthcare providers and payers to identify with confidence those DTx which are going to be of most benefit to their patients.

Halla Helgadottir, Sidekick’s Vice President of Clinical Innovation, maintains,

Clinical evidence is at the heart of DTx solutions and is a priority for Sidekick. Given the power and potential of a DTx solution in a patient’s treatment plan, it is crucial that there is evidence to support the clinical benefit to the patient as well as the economic benefit to the developer and payer.

6. Retaining and attracting top talent will be a priority (and a challenge).

Hunting for talent was one of the industry’s main priorities of 2022. In 2023, there will be a greater need and focus on actually keeping those employees. Forbes has gone as far as saying that the current shortage in digital tech talent is an “existential threat to business growth and innovation.”

The Great Resignation swept across the healthcare sector in 2022 as employees were asking themselves whether better opportunities existed elsewhere and whether they found their work fulfilling.

Hrefna Thoroddsen, Sidekick’s VP of People & Culture, believes,

2023 could see the start of the Great Return as organizations do everything possible to engage employees, empower them to learn continuously, and create a culture of trust and belonging.

7. Enhanced security and privacy measures will be a top priority.

One of the most important aspects of healthcare is security and privacy. In an age where data breaches are becoming more common, it’s crucial that healthcare organizations have enhanced security measures in place.

To an extent, companies can rely on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the USA and ENISA in the EU for guidance on best practices in cybersecurity, but compliance does not equate to security.

‍The speed and sophistication of today’s cybercriminals have made it clear that healthcare organizations must become individually responsible for testing and validating their cybersecurity programs, adopting proactive rather than reactive security postures.

Kristinn Gylfason, Sidekick’s Compliance Officer, says,

In 2023, we expect to see more health-tech companies implementing advanced security measures, such as biometric authentication and encryption, to protect patient data. Additionally, we expect to see more maturity in regulations on privacy of patient data with some interesting developments at hosting providers to answer demand for increased regionalization of data storage.


These trends highlight the shifts that are already happening and will continue to impact the way we deliver care in the future. It's exciting to think about the possibilities and opportunities that these trends bring, and how we can leverage them to improve patient outcomes and drive innovation in the digital health space.

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About the author

Bronwyn Hemus

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