Digital health needs to survive beyond the pandemic

Good evening, readers. And apologies for the late send—we’ve had a busy few days.

We just wrapped up our first virtual Brainstorm Health conference. There’s no way that I can sum up the fascinating interviews, panels, discussions, and post-session write-ups in a single newsletter. We’ll be trickling through a whole bunch of the issues we addressed over the next few days (and for general coverage from our Fortune team, head right over here.)

But one of the main themes of this conference has centered on digital health and whether or not such such technologies can give a much-needed assist during the coronavirus pandemic.

The trouble is that these new resources, whether apps, better data-sharing, or better devices, are still guinea pigs. When it comes to contact tracing for COVID-19, “countries have just started to use it,” said Dr. David Feinberg of Google Health following a session on innovation and health care during the conference.

Coronavirus isn’t the beginning. But it has the potential to be the catalyst. That was a sentiment echoed by numerous panelists including former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Margaret Hamburg and her fellow attendees Baxter International CEO Joe Almeida and GE Healthcare CEO Kieran Murphy for those who have chronic conditions outside of COVID.

“We need to create a safety net where people can feel protected,” said Almeida during the session. Murphy added that GE has “deployed real time data to show where such capacity exists and divert patients to there… There needs to be a market where we can deploy telemedicine.”

It’s an issue that speaks to the needs of chronic disease, rare disease, and underserved communities all in one. Whether telehealth can confront these ills is a much broader question we’ll be tackling for years.

Read on for the day’s news, and look to this space for more coverage of our conference.

Sy Mukherjee

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