Recent trends in digital health entrepreneurship

Recent Trends in Digital Health Entrepreneurship

Digital health is the application of information and communications technologies to exchange medical information. Digital health entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity with scarce, uncontrolled resources with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of digital health innovation. Examples include telemedicine, electronic medical records, data analytics and business intelligence, remote sensing, patient portals and mobile apps.

Digital health entrepreneurship is one of many categories of biomedical and clinical innovation that also includes biopharma and diagnostics, medical devices, care delivery, process and policy innovation.

Digital health activity has exploded in a few short years in the hope that it can be used to lessen costs, improve the doctor and patient experience and improve both quality of care and quality of service outcomes and satisfaction. Here are some recent trends

1. Continuing evolution of regional digital health ecosystems

2. Stables levels of investments in digital health and new investment vehicles, like equity crowd funding, and corporate venture and family office interest. Digital health companies in the genomics and sequencing space stole investors’ hearts in 2016, raising more funding than any other category and anchored by several large, high-profile deals including Human Longevity ($220M), Color Genomics ($45M), Seven Bridges Genomics ($45M), Pathway Genomics ($40M), and Emulate ($28M).

The analytics and big data category continued its surge in 2016, reaching $341M over 22 deals—up 103% over 2015. The wearables and biosensing category had another big year and came in third for most funding, although total funding for this category was down 32% from 2015. Telemedicine, digital medical devices, and population health management all reappeared on the Top Categories list

3.Coherence of technologies creating a nexus of the internet of things, health IT, bioimedical innovation and non-biomedical innovation with applications in medicine.

4.Health IT being part of the 4th industrial revolution

5.More health IT educational and training offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level

6.Data science applications driving clinical and business goals and objectives

7.Regulatory and policy changes to accomodate, or interfere with, dissemination and implementation of digital health innovation including actions against those who are found to make misleading claims.

8.New digital health business models and reimbursement policies. Apple, for example, wants to make sure you have an iPod at the bedside.

9.Customers developing a comfort level with digital health technologies at varying levels

10. Digital health clinical trials to determine the clinical efficacy of products and services. Clinical, experiential, financial and workflow outcomes and endpoints are coming into focus.

11.Earlier involvement of end users in the product development and deployment life cycle

12. Consolidation and roll ups and emergence of BIG DIGITAL and the Gang of Five (Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook)

13. Innovation centers, accelerators, incubators and generators

14. Academic medical center involvement

15. Breaking down of academic-industry-public barriers to research, development, commercialization, testing, deployment, dissemination and implementation

16. Community based open innovation networks

17. The Gang of Five is changing the IP landscape and making it harder for newcos to create barriers to entry

18. Cybersecurity and cyberliability should be front and center as another risk in product design and deployment.

19. BIG MEDICINE digical health strategies are starting to go down market to small medicine.

20. Global virtual telecare continues to grow, particularly in Asia in the areas of aging, reproductive services, pediatrics and oncology.

The Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2017 explores five trends that underscore the importance of technology for people:

  1. AI is the New UI
  2. Ecosystem Power Plays
  3. Workforce Marketplace
  4. Design for Humans
  5. The Uncharted

Digital health products and services continue to evolve at an almost daily rate as we move along the diffusion curve from the trough of disillusionment up the slope of enlightenment.

However, there are still several significant gaps that need to be filled if it is to realize its full potential. Fundamentally, digital health is not about the triple or quadruple aim. It is about the double aim of changing doctor and patient behavior and technology alone can’t do that.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Chief Medical Officer at Bridge Health and Cliexa