Have you ever heard of a digital pharmacy? The digital pharmacy allows for treatment to be received in the form of an application on your phone, a virtual reality session to treat pain, or a program to monitor obesity. I had not realized the extent of the digital health world until I attended the Connected Health Conference, which explored how health and wellness professionals are applying technology to care, treat or monitor patients. Of course, doctors and health professionals in these areas have been working to create successful treatments outside of traditional pharmaceuticals for years.

One of the most intriguing sessions I attended was the Applied VR experiences used in research trials and treatment at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Dr. Brennan Spiegel talked about the extreme pain that patients face with diseases like sickle cell anemia and lupus. Studies have shown that treatment with virtual reality and digital therapeutics can be a better treatment for patients with a successful result compared to traditional medications. Dr. Sonya Kim of One Caring Team described how her team uses virtual reality to reconnect elderly patients to normal life experiences and manage pain.

Wearable technology is improving the accessibility and reliability of data in the health and wellness environment. Often, Fitbit and Apple Watch technology is seen in workplaces or gym environments. New technology is expanding the at-home and healthcare wearable device uses. For example, Welt is a smart belt that can help track physical activity and overeating. The data captured by the belt is maintained in a mobile application. Quell is a wearable designed to treat chronic pain by stimulating sensory nerves, like on your leg or back. One of my favorite new technologies is Ozmo, whose product uses a high-end water bottle and Bluetooth technology to track daily (even hourly) hydration data. Imagine a complete system through Fitbit (or device of choice) that tracks both your water and coffee consumption in order to achieve a greater level of wellness.

Apart from the game-changing devices and media, technology continues to make applications more effective, and in the healthcare industry it saves lives. Baylee Greenberg of Crisis Text Line participated in a panel about public health interventions; her company is able to use programs and text algorithms to filter out crisis words. For example, trigger words that indicate high suicide risk in a text received by the Crisis Text Line are priority responses and people at risk for suicide are given an immediate response.

GHJ is committed to forward-thinking accounting practices and developing new ideas and technology in the industries we serve. The health and wellness initiatives at the firm are a prime example of where the Digital Health industry is heading, and the Connected Health Conference helped bring all these great technology movements to light.

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Frances Ellington Gutierrez

Frances Ellington Gutierrez, DBA, CPA, is the State and Local Tax Practice Leader at GHJ with a focus on multistate income and franchise tax, indirect tax and credits and incentives. Frances assists her clients on state and local tax issues related to tax audit controversy, nexus and reporting…Learn More