Covid is accelerating digital adoption and innovation and the healthcare sector is no exception. Digital access to personal medical data is changing how healthcare is delivered.

A paper published by IQVIA, Institute for Human Data Science, stated that more than 90,000 digital health apps were released in 2020, bringing the total to more than 350,000 apps globally. This surge in innovation shows no sign of slowing down.

The report cites an increase in digital care and digital therapeutics products for disease management. Further, it shows an increase of 40% of products used to treat neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Two hand showing a person using a heart heath app on a smartwatch. Personal medical data.

Demand for data

Research conducted by Pew Trusts in the US shows a staggering shift towards patient demand for personal medical data. Their research shows 80%-89% of respondents support personal access to a whole range of data and information. From time-sensitive data such as lab test results, vital signs, radiology images and reports, and treatment plans, to family medical history, immunisations, physician and clinical notes. Even insurance billing and claims, and advanced care plans or directives.

patient data access2 (1080 × 1080px)

This trend is spreading quickly to other regions of the world, with some organisations seizing the moment to innovate. Meanwhile, others struggle to break free from legacy systems and ways of working.


The UK healthcare sector is under immense pressure to move to an increasingly “digital-first” approach. Transforming whilst a perfect storm of regulatory, funding, human resourcing and legacy technology challenges hold them back.

The merger of NHS Digital and NHSX into NHS England & NHS Improvement will inevitably bring some clarity and direction to organisations striving to invest for the future. But the speed of change in consumer behaviour will remain a significant factor in the equation.

It is the recognition of this consumer demand that will signal the innovation opportunities to those agile and confident enough to step forward and lead from the front.

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Andrew Salmon