The Challenges of Evaluating Digital Health

The Challenges of Evaluating Digital Health

Posted Oct 13, 2021 from

A product that plays music to help children brush their teeth for the right amount of time, is rightly part of the digital health technology space, alongside a product that checks heart rhythms for arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation. Both are great products and have value to offer, but beyond their common mode of delivery, they are poles apart.

As the uptake of digital health tech increases, so too does the need for robust digital health assessment methodology. National bodies looking to create a digital health standard or innovators looking to gather evidence both need clarity on this issue because so much rests on it. It’s these evaluations of impact which enable healthcare professionals and the public to make informed decisions about digital technologies.

The two key challenges are: what, in the first instance, constitutes suitable evidence, and then, how does this evidence fit into standards which vary widely across the globe?

When it comes to evidence, how can you tell which digital health technologies are safe, which will deliver improved outcomes, and in what scenarios?

Initially, there was no international reference point to help with this challenge. Traditional healthcare approaches to evidence, typically centre around randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or, more recently, high-quality observational studies capturing real world evidence. But digital health presents challenges to these traditional evidential approaches. 

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