It's little wonder that health care costs have taken center stage from the hospital to the White House. Consider the numbers. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Health Expenditure grew to $3.2 trillion in 2015, accounting for 17.8 percent of the gross domestic product.
That's why transformative medicine, by way of digital platforms, telemed services and even online surveys, is evolving so quickly and changing both delivery and consumer health-care models.
Locally, regional health-care professionals are bringing their own digital services to the marketplace, with an eye toward streamlining services and changing outcomes.
Here are just a few:
ER at Home (www.erathome.com)
What it is: A downloadable app, ER at Home lets the user schedule a virtual appointment with a care provider, house personal health records, even power-of-attorney documents, and set up reminders for follow-up appointments. It also offers a catalog
of education resources to improve compliance and engage patients.
Why it's unique: The hallmark of the system will include care ports at major grocery store chains in the mid-Atlantic region. These ports are a telemed office, where clinicians examine patients and get real time vitals under a physician's real-time direction.
Target patients: General public
Timeline: According to Dr. Ashok Subramanian, the program already has 100 participating urgent-care centers, and the platform will go live in mid- to late fall, with five care ports scheduled to come to undisclosed grocery stores through the mid-Atlantic region.
Lead: Dr. Ashok Subramanian, president and CEO.
Help is Here Delaware (www.helpisherede.com)
What it is: The Delaware Delaware Division of Public Health originally unrolled this website in 2014 as a resource for individuals with a drug addiction or family members seeking help. Relaunched in May, the website features roughly 30 videos that include personal stories and resources about drug addiction. The video gallery includes parents who have lost a child to drug addiction, two people in long-term recovery, a provider of treatment services and a police officer.
Why it's unique: A one-stop shop for education, encouragement and ideas, the videos can be downloaded, and resources about prevention, treatment options, recovery and health-care providers are housed in one place.
Target audience: Anyone dealing with drug addiction, including family members and friends seeking resources.
Developer: Delaware Division of Public Health.
What it is: CanSurround is a digital health platform focused solely on reducing distress and building resilience (the psychosocial aspect of care) in people living with cancer. Available 24 hours a day, CanSurround partners with cancer centers and other health-care providers nationwide to ease emotional suffering and increase resilience in patients and their supporters.
What it does: CanSurround users can access the platform with a mobile phone, tablet or computer. The platform provides immediate access to proprietary features that guide participants toward resilience, personal growth and healing. It offers support to patients and their loved ones, in every phase of the cancer journey - during initial diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond. According to CanSurround officials, research has shown that lack of attention to patients' emotional needs leads to poor clinical outcomes. Conversely, early attention to distress improves outcomes, including mortality rates.
Target audience: Anyone living with cancer, including family and caretakers.
Timeline: CanSurround officials said the platform has hundreds of current users and additional patients who participated in pilot studies. The company will launch full commercialization efforts this fall.
Co-founder/CEO: Meg Maley.
Asthma Management Systems (www.asthmaadherence.com)
What it is: A website-based program that features a survey for asthmatic patients about their care. The tool is designed to help patients and health-care practitioners improve treatment by addressing specific behaviors and barriers to treatment.
How it works: Individuals complete the asthma adherence pathway survey and access information about their care, including resources like educational videos. The survey addresses specific behaviors that are a requirement for successful asthma care, such as following a written plan and affordability.
Health-care professionals read responses and give clinical management strategies for each problem.
Timeline: The survey is being tested by officials from the United Healthcare Community Plan and the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences.
Target audience: Asthmatic patients.
Developer: Dr. Andrew Weinstein, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University and president of Asthma Management Systems
Danio Diary (www.daniodiary.com)
What it is: Danio Diary is a free downloadable app and website platform for caregivers to share information and track care in real time.
How it works: Patients are assigned a danio, an eight-character anonymous identification code shared among authorized users, like caregivers, family members and physicians.Time-stamped updates are sent, giving real-time access to information so that caregivers and physicians can respond to changing conditions quickly.
Target audience: Anyone receiving care, from veterans to chronic-care patients and the elderly.
Timeline: Officially launched in 2015, Danio Diary founders are meeting with mental-health professionals and local organizations to market the app, and said they have set aside 239,000 danios for organizational use.
Developers: Managing partner Anthony Wright and COO David Hunt.