By all accounts, digital health is expected to play a big role in shaping the care of our future.
Digital health refers to using technology such as apps, remote monitoring, electronic records and telemedicine to improve healthcare. It includes tools that make healthcare more accessible, efficient and personalised, providing greater benefit to both patients and healthcare providers.
In Bermuda, the landscape of healthcare is undergoing a digital revolution, reshaping the way we are envisioning our future care.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, last year outlined “a digitally integrated and sustainable healthcare ecosystem” for Bermuda as the way forward to help “improve patient experiences and health outcomes and, ultimately, reduce the economic burden of our health system”.
“With technology, we can, for example, improve information sharing among healthcare providers with electronic health records and enable remote monitoring of a patient’s health status. These can lead to better health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and more efficient healthcare services,” she said.
“Patient empowerment and engagement are benefits, too. Patient portals, mobile health applications, and other digital tools can provide patients with easier access to their health information, enable self- monitoring of health conditions, and aid communication with healthcare providers. This can lead to more patient engagement and more consistent treatment plan adherence.”
Claire McDevitt, chief executive of Healthcare Solutions, a consulting firm, is excited about the impact it will have on our island population.
She is passionate about the profound impact digital health can wield within a community. She believes that by harnessing digital innovations to enhance population health, it will become far easier to proactively reach individuals and integrate collected data into government plans, health-centered programmes and innovative initiatives.
Mrs McDevitt’s journey from a nurse to overseeing accreditation compliance at Bermuda Hospitals Board led to the creation of Healthcare Solutions. Her venture stemmed from identifying gaps in healthcare services and striving to improve patient access to quality care.
“It evolved from there,” she said.
The Covid-19 pandemic spurred the rapid uptake of telemedicine, remote monitoring tools and health apps.
“It showed the value of digital health by expanding access to care, enabling remote consultations and fostering better data sharing among healthcare providers,” the CEO said.
“We were the first digital platform offering certified antigen testing, allowing people to travel to and from Bermuda and return to work and school, essentially helping the community get back to normal with instant results and no delays.”
The prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Bermuda, often diagnosed in later stages, prompted Healthcare Solutions to collaborate with Carna Health, a Boston-based digital health company. This partnership, backed by the Ministry of Health with funding from the Bermuda Health Council’s Chronic Disease Innovation Plan, aimed to provide free kidney screening to Bermuda in 2023 and 2024.
Mrs McDevitt’s team aspires to present a solution, reduce healthcare costs and unravel the genetic components contributing to what is a prevalent issue in Bermuda.
This initiative stands to revolutionise healthcare by placing the patient at the heart of the process. Patients receive immediate access to their screening results via an app or secure link which grants them control over their information sharing. Mrs McDevitt envisions this digital platform extending beyond chronic kidney disease to encompass more point-of-care testing. With the potential to transform healthcare delivery, immediate access to results via an app empowers patients, and could expand to streamline more testing, reducing wait times and enhancing care.
Bermuda serves as a launchpad for this groundbreaking technology, with future aspirations to expand its reach into regions where access to medical care is limited. Mrs McDevitt envisions a global impact, imagining how this technology could streamline healthcare access in regions with dense populations and limited resources.
Her latest venture with partner Jennifer Burland Adams is the digital health space, Epic Is Life. This venture collaborates with Muhdo, a UK-based company, offering at-home tests that empower individuals to understand their genetic risks and make informed health decisions. Combining this information with our health data from apps or devices allows us to learn more about how our behaviours and surroundings affect our genes. This helps us personalise healthcare and track how our choices impact our health in the long run.
“I want to feel 60 when I am 80, and this test and tools provide me the road map to do so. It highlights the risks and gifts of my DNA, giving me my own personalised and precise health plan,” Mrs McDevitt said, explaining how its true beauty was that it empowers people to make informed decisions about their health by understanding how their genes interact with their lifestyle and the environment they are in.
Excited by the possibilities at the forefront of medicine, Mrs McDevitt’s overarching ambition is crystal clear: using digital health technology to help empower communities to reverse the escalating costs linked to chronic diseases by proactively slowing disease progression through early identification. This proactive approach holds the promise of substantial healthcare cost reductions in the foreseeable future, reshaping the landscape of healthcare delivery.
Contact claire@healthcaresolutions. bm. For more information visit: www. healthccaresolutions.bm, www.carna.health/bermuda, www.epicislife. com