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The Promise of Digital Health: Then, Now, and the Future

Over the past several decades, the development and accelerated advancement of digital technology has prompted change across virtually all aspects of human endeavor. The positive and negative effects of these changes have been and will remain the focus of active speculation, including the implications for human health. Application of mechanical and digital recording and capture of physical status, experiences, and narratives have set the stage for revolutionary progress in individual health and medical management, population-wide health strategies, and integrated real-time generation of new knowledge and insights. Together, these developing digitally mediated capacities are termed digital health.

Digital health has evolved as a broad term encompassing electronically captured data, along with technical and communications infrastructure and applications in the health care ecosystem. Revolutionary advances in digital health are transforming health, medicine, and biomedical science, and redefining and re-engineering the tools needed to create a healthier future. Developments such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, digitally mediated diagnostics and treatment, telehealth, and consumer-facing mobile health applications are now routinely used in self-management, health care, and biomedical science. These developments promise to drive earlier diagnoses and interventions, improve outcomes, and support more engaged patients (McGinnis et al., 2021).

The Promise of Digital Health: Then, Now, and the Future - National Academy of Medicine (

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