Healthcare Transformation: An Overview of the Digital Health Landscape

Posted by Ulker Guluzadeh on Jul 6, 2016 4:18:50 PM

Following the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and the company’s announcements about extended (and improved!) capabilities for both its watchOS 3.0 and HealthKit in the upcoming iOS 10, those in the health tech space should be excited. The industry has seen a lot of investment in the past few years – $4.5bn only in 2015 with as much as $32bn of growth projected within the next decade. The recent HealthKit improvements are yet another sign of why a wide range of organizations – startups and government institutions alike – have increased their investment into building, enhancing, and streamlining all aspects of healthcare with the help of digital technology.

The digital transformation in healthcare and medical industries has been taking place for a while. According to Rock Health, a San Francisco-based venture fund dedicated solely to the industry, digital health has seen record-breaking funding in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the last 5 years. This stands in contrast to the current downturn of other tech investments, and the healthcare tech industry shows no sign of slowing growth.

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What technologies are responsible for driving innovation in the digital health space? Is it the improved HealthKit? Microchips installed in your body that sync with your mobile device? Is it a smart patient-doctor sign-up and interaction system that lets you and your doctor conduct an appointment without leaving the comfort of your own home? Or, is it a digital system that tremendously improves the diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities of the providers based on the insights derived from similar patients across the nation – or even, the whole world – all at a fraction of the current costs? The answer is all of the above. We decided to map out the landscape and note key players to help you identify or create the next big innovation in digital health.


Innovation in Digital Health

Digital health innovation comes in many forms – from microchips to mobile devices – and across many types of organizations – be it start-up, enterprise, government solutions and everything in between. To navigate this complex space, it is useful to view the numerous devices and applications across of the range of uses, from personal to institutional.

Digital health has two main value drivers. The first is patient-focused initiatives, which aim to deliver improved health outcomes for end users. The second is provider-focused initiatives, which work to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency of a wide range of healthcare providers, from nurses to medical facilities to insurance providers.


Patient-Facing Innovation: Information Access and Value

On the patient/consumer end, digital health devices and applications focus on diagnostics, vitals tracking, and information services. Most of the innovations introduced can be grouped into one of the categories below:

  1. Health Information and Education 
    Systemized health information directories that allow one to look up and identify various symptoms (WebMd), find a medical professional (Zocdoc, Healthgrades) or an insurance provider (Stride Health, eHealth), or simply interact with a community of patients with a range of specific conditions (Patientslikeme).
  2. Health Trackers and Wearables
    Anything from lifestyle health apps like dacadoo and fitness trackers (Fitbit, Jawbone), to specific-purpose devices that sync with one’s mobile device to seamlessly deliver and display vital health information with a few taps on the mobile screen.
  3. Telemedicine
    Remote interaction solutions – from patient-nurse interaction (our own American Well and FollowApp) to medication management (Proteus) and automated prescription and medication delivery services (Lemonaid, PillPack).
  4. Genetic services
    “Consumer” genetic services (23andme, Counsyl, Helix) utilize cutting-edge technology and data to provide genetic information and assist in projection and prevention of hereditary diseases like cancer.

Provider-Facing Innovation: Efficiency and Cost Reduction

While all of the above provide value to the end user, it is the innovations on the provider side are the ones that will ultimately be responsible for the major shift in the way healthcare is administered in the future. These software and mobile innovations can be divided into several groups:

  1. Electronic Medical and Health Records and Data Analytics
    The vast amount of paperwork associated with one’s medical records comes at a huge administrative cost to healthcare providers. Paper-based records, usually confined to one facility, lack uniformity and continuity if a patient is treated by more than one specialist or has simply switched healthcare providers. In addition to that, the “human factor” and poor legibility can cause errors with varying degrees of consequences. Most importantly, such records are more difficult to access, retrieve, and transfer, which in turn causes serious difficulties in administering the services in timely and effective manner. To improve communication among various providers and healthcare professionals, as well as improve the workflow, a lot of the innovation has been focused on the automation and improvement of medical data collection and data analytics. Companies like Athenahealth and Medstatix develop software that standardize records, facilitate the exchange of information and, with the use of advanced analytical tools, tremendously improve data-driven decision-making in healthcare.
  2. Clinical (Hospital) Workflow Management systems
    Solutions designed to improve operational efficiency at hospitals and other medical facilities by streamlining the flow of information (Athenahealth) and communication among the clinical staff (Vocera), as well as comprehensive solutions to improve the cost and revenue structures of the medical organization (MedAssets).
  3. Interaction and Monitoring Services
    Applications like American Well and FollowApp supply healthcare providers with an effective solution for remote monitoring of hospital outpatients, increasing the efficiency and the scale of the administered services, as well as post-discharge care that significantly reduces patient readmission rates.
  4. Enterprise Wellness
    Ranging from in-house solutions to dedicated software (Virgin Pulse, Limeade) to corporate programs offered by traditional consumer electronic device manufacturers (Garmin, Fitbit), enterprise wellness applications focus on employee wellness to deliver increased productivity and, in return, generate more value for the companies that implement these wellness programs.
  5. Healthcare Consumer Engagement
    Not unlike other consumer-facing organizations, healthcare providers need to focus on CRM, and specialized platforms like eVariant provide end-to-end solutions to healthcare consumer acquisition and engagement.

Digital Innovation Map

Although we described the expansion of the digital health space in relation to two distinct outcomes in order to offer a simplified understanding of the rapidly growing space, in reality, these solutions are acting on a spectrum of desired outcomes. To get a better and bigger picture of the interactions between numerous stakeholders, offered solutions, and desired outcomes, refer to the map by SVB below and read the full report here.

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In an ideal connected world, all of the solutions will be personalized and seamlessly integrated, working together to form a complete, digitally-empowered healthcare ecosystem. And, as the technology progresses, it is safe to say the innovation won’t stop here; the exploration of VR and AI applications in medicine to provide even higher levels of automation while delivering personalized medical service is proof. While we are all waiting for the next big boom in digital healthcare, check out some of Intrepid’s current work in Healthcare & Medical space.

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Want to develop the next big digital health application? We are here to help you. Have an idea to share or something to add to the post above? Get in touch or leave a comment below.

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Topics: Healthcare, Digital health

About Intrepid

Intrepid is an end-to-end mobile design and development company with offices in Cambridge, MA and NYC. We help companies, from startup to enterprise, boldly navigate their mobile future. We provide our clients expertise in development, design, strategy, and technology integrations. At Intrepid, we are creating the best mobile products at the intersection of humanity & technology. Find out more at intrepid.io

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