Monday, Jan 25, 2021

Reimagining healthcare: The shift toward patient-centric health

Amy WestHead of US Digital Health Strategy, Novo Nordisk


The COVID-19 global pandemic caused massive disruption and exposed existing gaps in the US healthcare system. Such inefficiencies posed urgent risks to people living with chronic diseases, forcing healthcare providers to quickly adopt new models of care, access and delivery.

The evolution to prioritize digitalization has accelerated! The need for rapidly evolving digital technology and remote care supports a larger, more patient-centric approach— “portable health”. Portable health is an ecosystem of connected, location-independent healthcare services and solutions, accessible wherever and however patients decide. Today, we overwhelmingly opt for more personalized lifestyle approaches that fit into our busy lives, and healthcare is no exception. Through intelligent digital solutions, we can better individualize care while improving utilization and outcomes for a broad range of patients. At its core, portable health is about integrating care seamlessly into people’s lives, regardless of where they live, what they do or who they are. 

Here’s why portable health is here to stay:

  • Safety: Remote care is a requisite in today’s climate. With 35% of Americans still delaying medical care due to COVID-19,1 we need to develop solutions to better serve these shifting healthcare needs. The move to more patient-centric healthcare provides a virtual opportunity for patients and caregivers to minimize physical contact while remaining safe and hands-on in the ongoing management of patient health.
  • Convenience: The number of Americans aged 65+ is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060.2 As this population ages, the flexibility of healthcare at home will become imperative to those whose physical abilities may be declining, or who have multiple chronic conditions requiring care from various specialists. Convenience is a critical factor for people younger than 65, too. With the recent COVID-19 lockdown restrictions along with current surge, we’re spending an increasing number of hours per day working while also managing family needs (e.g., home schooling). This has required telecommuting for many.3 With intensified schedules and work-life environment imbalance, decreasing the amount of time spent traveling to visit a doctor while continuing efficient care needed will progressively be essential to so many.  
  • Enhanced care: In addition to the safety and convenience of portable health, the customized patient-driven nature provides a benefit to healthcare that many people crave. Certain treatments can now be implemented at the time and place a patient chooses. Through innovative technologies that are now available, treatment plans can be better tailored to a specific person, rather than a population or a disease state. Additionally, innovations in digital health – mobile and voice tech, chat bots, wearable devices and more – can further accelerate improvements in patient experiences through data and analytics.

The beauty and value of portable health is using digitally-focused solutions to provide practical, meaningful support and therapeutic guidance for patients outside the doctor’s office and within the context of their daily lives as a mom, dad, police officer, teacher, etc.—not as a “patient”. Through an interconnected web of customized care and innovative technologies, an individual can receive support and healthcare providers can receive better data informed by real-world observations. With analytics, patients and doctors have data at their fingertips to better encourage adherence and management of chronic diseases, like diabetes.

In addition to healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies play an important role in seamlessly integrating the portable health ecosystem into the lives of patients. As a partner in the healthcare community, Novo Nordisk aims to diversify holistic digital health interventions and support offerings to improve engagement and medication adherence among patients. We’re committed to making strides in digital health to better support people with chronic metabolic disease through safe, convenient and customized care. By actively leveraging the latest technology and partnerships, we can facilitate care delivery with greater efficiency.

The existing gaps in our healthcare system will continue to be exacerbated as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, threatening the health of those patients who struggle with and manage chronic diseases every day. However, as these problems are uncovered, I’m confident that solutions will be found. The healthcare industry is revolutionizing new and innovative ways to accelerate care and appropriate interventions for the millions of people living with chronic diseases. Enhancing and individualizing patient experiences is essential to providing sustainable care for those who need it most. Today’s problems call for advanced solutions beyond traditional protocols and pharmacotherapy, leveraging digital, technology and data. There is no time like the present to make this happen.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reduced Access to Care: Household Pulse Survey. Available at: Last accessed: September 2020.
  2. Population Reference Bureau. Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States. Available at: Last accessed: September 2020.
  3. National Bureau of Economic Research. Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work. Last accessed: October 2020.

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