San Francisco, CA— For well over a decade, this time of year has marked the annual release of investor and tech guru Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report. The big news this year comes in the form of new section focused solely on Digital Health. Over the course of nearly three-dozen slides, the new unit tells the story of how digital is rapidly evolving healthcare.

First off, the use of digital and connected devices across healthcare is generating tremendous amounts of data, with 48% growth year-over-year. Today nine out of ten HCP offices use electronic health records (EHR) in the US, and the number of hospitals providing patients remote access to EHR more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2015. This clinical growth is paralleled by the abundance of data being generated from consumer wearables and health apps. Interestingly enough, the report showed that more than half of the consumers surveyed were willing to share their health data with leading tech brands including Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple.

This glut of data is leading to a rapid acceleration in scientific advances. As of 1950, it took half a century for medical knowledge to double. By 1980, it was doubling every 7 years, and by 2010 that figure had dropped to 3.5 years. Unfortunately that acceleration hasn’t been translated into the clinical trial space—on average it still takes more than a decade to bring a new drug to market.

Why This Matters—

This new report confirms much of what our own 2017 Trends Reports have shown: tech advancements both inside and outside of healthcare are shifting consumers’ expectations. Today’s patients are demanding more and more digital health services and tools to meet their needs. And these shifts are emerging across generations: 42% of Millennials and a whopping 56% of Baby Boomers have sought medical care or advice remotely. Additionally 75% of respondents in a recent survey used 2 or more digital health tools in 2016, representing an increase of nearly 50% over the previous year. With rapid advancements in patient empowerment, health management, and genomics, the future of healthcare innovation looks bright indeed.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.