The rise of digital phenotyping in healthcare


Over the past decade, smartphones, tablets and wearables have become the backbone of the healthcare industry. Telemedicine and devices like cell phones have many benefits in the healthcare environment, including better coordination among physicians, improved patient communication and medication adherence, and improved increased accuracy of medication reconciliation. However, the latest developing area in digital health is digital phenotyping. This market is expected to grow steadily in CAGR between 2022 and 2026.

What is digital phenotyping?

Digital phenotyping was first defined in a 2016 article in JMIR Mental Health, an academic journal that focuses on internet interventions and digital health. The multidisciplinary field of science involves taking the vast amounts of data collected from an individual’s smartphone, wearable device, and other digital devices and using it to determine behavior related to mental health and mental illness. other diseases.

In this area, the data collected is often passive, which includes phone usage patterns and does not require the active participation of users. The term digital phenotyping is derived from the field of genetics, where phenotype is a set of observable traits or characteristics of an organism. The study mainly focuses on the morphology or physical structure of an organism.

It should be noted that this idea of ​​using data from smartphones and other digital devices to determine an individual’s unique physical or behavioral attributes is not a new revelation. For example, businesses and governments collect biometrics for these reasons, and configuring smartphones using fingerprints or facial recognition is one of the primary ways biometrics are collected. However, unlike the many risks associated with biometrics, such as false identification by law enforcement, early research has suggested that there are positive uses of passive digital data in mental health research.

According to reports, studies have shown that typing patterns have the potential to predict manic episodes in bipolar disorder, and geolocation data may be associated with depressive episodes and schizophrenia relapse. Likewise, digital phenotyping has suggested that the way toddlers look at smartphones may be a benchmark for detecting early symptoms of autism.

Image credit: Pixabay

Digital phenotyping is the latest example of how technology has significantly advanced healthcare. Apart from the global penetration of smartphones and the internet, the need for remote services has also increased the accessibility of digital health services. In 2020, the global digital health market was worth $96,794.51 million, and analysts predict the industry to continue its upward trend and grow at a CAGR of roughly 16% from 2021 to 2028 .

That being said, much like the downsides of biometrics, there are security issues with digital health. One of the main risks is the cyberattack, which is an offensive maneuver that has affected several industries, the latest being Samsung. Fortunately, however, there are preventative measures companies can take to protect their business, such as using a VPN service.

Digital health still has a long way to go. Yet every day, technology and the people who use it are pushing new boundaries and finding new ways to better understand human life by integrating our everyday devices like smartphones, tablets, and wearables.

(Devdiscourse journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse claims no responsibility for them.)


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