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Healthcare accelerates shifts towards digital during COVID-19: new yStats.com report.

The latest publication from Germany-based online research firm yStats.com, “Global Digital Health Market and Trends 2021” offers a comprehensive overview of the virtual healthcare services in three major markets: North America, Europe, and Asia after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report provides insights into possible future developments of the industry based on the forecasted market values, consumers’ preferences and intentions, as well technological trends.

The acceleration of the digital health market worldwide

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the global health industry realized the necessity of speeding the movement to digital space. Despite some implementation difficulties detailed in the new yStats.com publication, the market is set to follow an upward trend to online services in the next five to six years, growing at double-digit rates yearly across the globe. Moreover, the number of mobile applications available in online stores reached its all-time high in 2021, indicating the increasing consumer interest in virtual healthcare services. Among the top medical applications worldwide by the number of downloads were those for monitoring individuals’ “Mental health and behavioral disorders”, and such diseases as “Diabetes”, “Heart/circulatory system”, and “Digestive system”. Additionally, an integral part of the digital health sector, telemedicine, is among the main trends to be adopted and developed further in the near future, and already in 2021, more than half of global healthcare decision-makers believe that telemedicine is one of the health technologies with the highest investment. Furthermore, almost three-quarters of the healthcare leaders claimed that within the next three years, hospitals must increase their investment in AI as a digital health technology, according to a 2021 survey cited in the yStats.com report.

Following North America, other regions are catching up in digital health adoption during COVID-19

North America appears to be a trendsetter in the digital healthcare arena. The market in the United States was forecasted to outpace the global adoption rate through 2025. According to a 2021 survey, digital tools such as telemedicine are mostly used by US consumers to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist, a pediatrician, and an urgent care center. In Canada, more generally, “Receiving professional medical advice by telephone”, “Making appointments electronically”, and “Accessing websites, mobile apps or interactive online tolls” were the top digital health use cases at the end of 2020 and according to the same survey cited in the new yStats.com market report, around a third of Canadians said that they do not see any barriers to use digital health services. On the European landscape, Estonia, select Nordic countries, Austria, Germany, and the UK were considered as the role models for digital health innovation by healthcare professionals surveyed in 2020. Despite this, both in some of the market leaders and in other countries in the region, “Funding and costs” was seen as the main challenge in digital health services adoption and their further developments, along with “IT security & data privacy”, and “Integration within and across organizations”. In Asia, the digital health market growth rate between 2020 and 2025 was estimated to be faster than the global average, prompted especially by select major markets, such as China and India. Furthermore, remote patient support technologies that include telemedicine and remote monitoring, were expected to have the highest market value in Asia in 2025, as compared to other digital health solutions. However, the highest growth rate is to expect in the sector of providing digital therapies to patients, such as through digital pharmacies.