CES 2021: Digital health explodes

Here’s a mind-blowing set of statistics for you: prior to 2020, only 24 percent of healthcare systems offered any form of virtual care.

In 2020, telehealth visits exploded from less than 50 million annually to an estimated one billion in the United States.

“COVID-19 really is a perfect storm,” said Vivian Lee, President of Platforms for Verily, Google’s life sciences arm, during a recent CES panel discussion. “It’s the point where it’s advantageous to everyone to move to digital health. The payers are the ones who have the most to benefit if they really drive for evidence that it’s improving health. It’s a huge opportunity for employers, too. We don’t have enough money in our economy to pay for healthcare as it is now, so we need to be more efficient.”

The power of digital health’s ability to collect predictive data was on display when Kinsa’s connected thermometer started showing a significant spike in people with high fevers across the country early in 2020 that wasn’t explained by the flu.

Kinsa thermometer
The fever data collected by the Kinsa thermometer was an early warning sign.

“We caught indicators of COVID-19 everywhere about three weeks ahead of when it presented at hospitals,” said Inder Singh, Kinsa’s CEO and Founder. “It shows how important early warning is to managing outbreaks.”

Lee said Verily saw an acceleration of acceptance of digital and telehealth services. In particular, their Onduo online platform for Type 2 diabetes management and glucose monitoring benefitted from older patients concerned about exposure to COVID. Digital health provided a powerful way to help patients manage diabetes at home. Lee saw similar benefits for mental health care.

Verily's Onduo program gained in popularity as older patients wanted care at home.

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