The Health 2.0 conference this year featured a panoply of digital health startups that reimagine the future of healthcare. From predicting health outcomes using genomic and environmental determinants, enhancing payments using blockchain technology, to reducing suicide by addressing mental health and loneliness issues, provider adoption remains a common challenge.
From Left to right: saying hello to live agents at Suitable Tech, meditating with Muse, and hearing from Kleiner Perkins and Wildcat Venture Partners
On the Investing in Health 2.0 panel, Lynne Chou, a partner at Kleiner Perkins reasons that “digital health is difficult because it focuses on both B2B and B2C. Consumers are not used to paying for healthcare and digital health companies are trying to sell to these consumers.” However, as patients are becoming consumers with high deductibles and providers are slow to adopt new technologies, startups and healthcare companies are wondering “instead of selling software to providers, should I reimagine primary care?” This blog takes a closer look at one digital health solution and what is needed to break down those barriers to penetration.
Medication adherence, which accounts for $300 billion in annual healthcare spending, was a hot topic this year. Notable startups are offering “Beyond-the-Pill” solutions that remind patients to take their pills, learn about their medication, and report efficacy through IoT, artificial intelligence, and gamification.
An integrated and personal experience: Medisafe leads the herd. It has garnered 3 million patient and caregiver users to provide a personalized experience. Its “Import from pharmacy” feature enables patients to download their medication and schedule directly from the pharmacy to reduce error and time for entry. Medisafe also capitalizes on their information log of billions of population health data points related to adherence that provides detailed insights into disease state, demographics, and more. They sell this information to providers/ insurance companies as another revenue stream.
Gamification: Mango Health, probably a paragon any well gamified app, drives medication adherence by enabling users to earn points and enter into a weekly raffle for gifts/ prizes. It also incorporates other habit forming components like mood, fitness, and water intake.
Artificial intelligence and robotics: Pillo’s patient-facing, and outright adorable, robot uses voice and facial recognition to ensure authenticity and dispense medication. AI Patients can chat and interact with the robot.
IoT and interoperability: Popit, though not present at Health 2.0, is a device-dependent, clip-on technology to blister packs that couples with a mobile app to send reminders to the patient.
Insights and next steps
Digital health companies must serve consumers and providers simultaneously. Although these companies are stepping towards the right direction by integrating their platforms with providers, few have successfully formed profitable partnerships with providers. Providers and payer organizations alike beg the question: is this technology merely a shiny toy or a useful tool that will impact the bottom line? Some other questions worth consideration include: Even if providers can track their patient’s medication intake, do the providers have the bandwidth to notify these patients? Are these alerts accurate? What about problems that the technologies track that then become the provider’s responsibility? This could lead to legal implications down the road if the provider fails to acknowledge alerts that the apps bring up.
In order to create a comprehensive and seamless system that will drive provider uptake, startups must incorporate providers in their user journey and work directly with providers to understand their workflow. Is there a product fit in their organizational system? Does one extra click to their daily work impede or reduce caregiver daily responsibilities? Does a new gadget inadvertently add more steps to their job?
The next big wave
As “beyond-the-pill” technologies begin to build stronger traction, a global leader in pharmaceutical innovation challenges this paradigm altogether. With research and development bringing implantables, genomics, and precision medicine as more effective and targeted methods for treating patients, the pharmaceutical industry foresees the collapse of pill production, and one that could even render pills obsolete except in high-intensity drug scenarios. Healthcare organizations may need to pivot their business models to anticipate these changes in what is considered beyond “Beyond-the-Pill”.
At infoedge, we go beyond identifying the value propositions; we assess the business value to impact the bottom-line, examine people and organizational readiness, identify key performance metrics, and build the processes needed to pilot or implement the tool to provide a comprehensive review.