Digital health execs’ takeaways from 2021: ‘People do not want to go back to the way things were’

As 2021 winds down, MobiHealthNews asked digital health executives about their biggest takeaways from another challenging year for the healthcare system.

Check out these leaders’ thoughts on other big topics from this year, like the expansion of telehealth and the huge influx of funding. They also predicted digital health trends for next year and discussed whether the investment boom will continue in 2022. 

Snezana Mahon, chief operating officer of Transcarent

“I think the biggest takeaway is that we’re headed in the right direction, but there’s still more work to do.

“Despite the incredible year of funding, and the innovation happening within the space, digital health still hasn’t really delivered on its promise to fix the broken healthcare system. Employers are still facing high costs, access to quality care is still an issue, and people are still really frustrated by their health and care experiences. 

“The industry has created an entire ecosystem of digital health point solutions, but in many cases people still aren’t sure what they really need or where to start to figure that out. Now that we’ve proven that innovation in this space can happen, we need to ensure that we’re creating solutions that actually make the health and care experience easier, not more complex or costly.”

Carolyn Witte, CEO and cofounder of Tia

“It was so amazing to see women’s healthcare not being treated as a niche market. While 51{eca2258439cb6473656e03a2d3e6b84304b35fc01c093883e008a47bacba1047} of the population should have never been considered niche, the investment trends finally signaled change. When women’s healthcare works, the whole system works better.”

Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder of Well Health

“In 2021, digital patient engagement tools were in more demand from providers than ever before. The top three focuses that converged this year to fuel this demand include: growing pressure for providers to implement more consumer-centric experiences to engage patients outside of the ‘four walls’ of the hospital; the need to re-engage many patients who delayed primary care and specialist visits during the peak of COVID-19; and a move towards ‘alternative site care’ to provide care in lower cost settings, whether virtually or in the home, via tools and devices that monitor patients remotely.

“We saw a greater willingness of healthcare ecosystem stakeholders to adopt digital solutions to meet these patient needs.”

Kyle Armbrester, CEO of Signify Health

“The biggest takeaway from 2021 by far is just how important it is that we activate the home as a site of preventive care. The pandemic really illuminated the health disparities that exist for those who have difficulty getting to their doctor, particularly seniors, the disabled and people living in rural areas.

“While wellness visits and preventive health screenings can save and extend life, they are not happening nearly enough. Advances in screening devices, remote monitoring and telehealth are making it possible to do more outside of healthcare facility walls, and, with physicians embracing opportunities to adopt these new tools, we are at a watershed moment to activate the home as a health hub at scale.

“People do not want to go back to the way things were. The onus is on payers, providers and digital health innovators to continue building on the momentum of the past two years. It is up to us to make quality healthcare more accessible in ways that fit with how people live their lives. 

“In many ways, 2021 was also a year for stage-setting. We saw the implementation of CMS’ interoperability mandate in July, and we expect to see that policy bear fruit over the next year as third-party apps roll out and patients begin taking control of their health data. We also saw the launch of CMS’ Direct Contracting model, a significant step forward in the shift toward value-based care.”


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