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HealthMay 10, 2022

The battle for consumer trust: How digital health tech can combat medical misinformation

Digital health investment around the world hit an all-time high of $57.2 billion in funding in 2021, fueled by the growing need to provide digital solutions and delivery models to patients during the pandemic. With the primary focus on service delivery and user experience, digital health platforms aren’t devoting much of these resources toward high-quality medical and wellness content to engage increasingly discerning health consumers.

The record-breaking funding marks a 79% jump from the $32 billion raised globally in 2020, according to a year-end report by market intelligence firm CB Insights. Telehealth funding hit a new high in 2020, pulling in $17.6 billion, up 68% from $10.5 billion the prior year.

Digital health tools are providing numerous benefits in delivering quality healthcare, including increased patient empowerment, better disease management, convenience, less burden on healthcare professionals, and improved access to affordable healthcare. This comes at a time when health consumers are increasingly taking a more active role in making healthcare decisions with their clinicians.

While most investments in new digital health tools focus primarily on efficiency and user experience, many companies are now finding they fall short in the delivery of evidence-based medical information, curated by a trusted and objective source, that meaningfully engages health consumers.

This can be profoundly problematic at a time when medical misinformation is rampant and adversely impacting health decisions and outcomes.

Access to evidence in the misinformation era

In recent years, the rapidly changing information environment has made it easier for misinformation to spread at unprecedented speed and scale, especially on social media and via search engines. Misinformation tends to spread quickly on these platforms for several reasons. The growing number of places people seek information makes misinformation harder to find and correct. And, although media outlets can help inform and educate consumers, they can sometimes inadvertently amplify false or misleading narratives.

Misinformation also thrives in the absence of easily accessible, credible information. When people look for information online and see limited or contradictory search results, they may be left confused or misinformed. Is it no wonder, then, that health consumer trust has eroded in recent years?

Developing credible and trusted medical content is an entirely different discipline from user design and technology development – and thus is often the missing piece in the digital health puzzle. The result is a wild west wherein providers and consumers alike are bombarded with mass amounts of information that lack the context and credibility needed to drive action. This can also make it difficult for healthcare stakeholders to discern quality medical content from the work of savvy content marketers.

Partnering with trusted content providers to impact care

High-quality, trusted content is the foundational element that enables digital health solutions to evolve from technology platforms to full-service patient content resources. Health consumers often require far more than a tech-enabled prompt to take desired actions. Thus, platforms that deliver trusted medical information that can be personalized to patient needs can have the potential to make a tangible impact on care.

Moreover, the information health consumers access should be aligned with the clinical content care teams refer to when treating them. Ensuring alignment between clinical and patient content is a specialized discipline that most digital health tech companies don’t have the expertise or resources to achieve. Partnering with companies who excel in this area can help eliminate the investment and ongoing costs that digital-first organizations would need to develop and maintain high-quality and rich content of their own while delivering evidence-based information both patients and clinicians can trust.

Learn more about dynamic ways to integrate patient content into digital solutions.

Learn About Digital Health Architect
 
Solution Thought Leader at Wolters Kluwer, Health
Matt Sullivan is a solution thought leader at Wolters Kluwer, Health, specializing in new product innovation with emphasis on virtual care and digital health solutions.
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