Published on: November 10, 2022

Digital Inclusion: Why it’s important for digital health technology to be accessible and affordable


November 10th 2022: MPO Magazine  Click to view

By Faramarz Farhoodi, CEO of AI Nexus Healthcare 

Digital health technology is rapidly evolving, with insightful technology and hardware quite literally in the palm of our hands. But as this technology advances, naturally, so does the price. In a world where healthcare systems are operating well over capacity and clinicians are overstretched, there has never been a bigger demand for accessible and affordable digital solutions that offer the consumer an insight into the health and wellbeing of their body.

Remote health monitoring can unlock vast potential for alleviating strain on healthcare professionals whilst also encouraging people to seek medical attention earlier on in the disease cycle — which given that 80% of chronic diseases are preventable, only amplifies the need for a transition from ‘sick care’ to ‘smart care’.

How artificial intelligence can help accelerate us toward ‘smart care’

Artificial Intelligence (AI) for some time now has been a part of all of our lives, be it a smart home device or simply unlocking your smartphone with a face ID. Similarly, remote monitoring hardware is rapidly growing in popularity, with an abundance of smartwatches able to give you real time vital sign readings and collect vast amounts of biodata throughout the day. However, there is one crucial ingredient missing here and that is the ability to translate this data into actionable medical advice, which will actually serve to address the current issues the industry is facing — as opposed to simply counting how many steps you have done in a day.

This is where AI comes in — and more specifically, hybrid AI — a term we use at AI Nexus Healthcare that describes the combination of recognition with cognition. The term centres on identifying trends in data such as heart rate and oxygen saturation and converting this into genuine advice. Traditionally, AI developers have been centred around machine learning, which essentially teaches computers to learn from pattern recognition and does so by applying equations to huge collections of data. In contrast, hybrid AI strives to emulate the diagnostic approach of a clinician through cognition, which,  in turn, has the potential to prevent diseases far earlier in the disease cycle — which saves time, money and in some cases, lives.

Why is it so important to make this technology accessible and affordable?

Of course, this all sounds great, but if you have to pay a lot to access digital health and be well adept in advanced technology use, then we have fallen at the first hurdle. It may come as a surprise to some that despite its complexity and years of development, the end game of AI and other digital health technology for that matter, is more often than not, to present a simple and digestible platform for its users. For example, your typical smart home speakers which are a common feature of 21st-century households could not be more simple to use as they utilise basic voice commands, however, the inner workings of such technology is very advanced. The takeaway from this is that although this technology stems from the sharp end of innovation, this does not have to come at the expense of accessibility and nor should it in digital healthcare.

But what are the key considerations?

Smartphone integration is absolutely one of the most important aspects to consider simply due to how many people own them. If a user is able to collect data by simply scanning their face or fingertip through an app, it’s a great way to reach the masses and really embodies the concept of ‘good health in the palm of your hand’.

Of course, there is the issue of pricing. Making digital health technology unaffordable is not only limiting its prospective interest but also its potential impact, so it's about striking the right balance in line with the market — with an underlying appreciation for the bigger picture. Essentially, making it affordable will serve to deepen its effectiveness and align with the current issues facing the sector. As a consumer, It's also important to consider that although digital health technology might come at a cost, if it has the capability to detect antecedent signals of a chronic disease, then this could save a significant amount in medical intervention further down the line — so it's down to us as developers to build the technology that gives consumers that option.

What certainly motivates us at AI Nexus Healthcare is the idea that our innovation could make a meaningful difference to society and it's important to recognise that accessibility has a huge influence on your ability to do that. There are leading minds in both technology and healthcare working in collaboration all over the world to combine the two disciplines for the betterment of the population and there’s no doubt that the future of digital health is an exciting one. A new era of ‘smart care’ is not as far away as you might think and it's down to technology developers and innovators to ensure their hard work becomes accessible, as only then will we have a meaningful relationship with the healthcare industry.

Faramarz Farhoodi, founder of AI Nexus Healthcare, has more than three decades of experience in the field of AI, having led more than 1,000 person-years of AI application development across the defence, healthcare, manufacturing and finance industries – with his experience as diverse as helping to build NATO command and control systems to overseeing’s largest commercial account. With 80% of chronic disease being preventable and a global shortage of healthcare professionals, Faramarz and AI Nexus Healthcare are using a specialised AI skillset to transform healthcare systems, focusing on intervention and prevention.