Why Digital HealthCare Innovation Impacts Patients and Providers
To understand the importance digital healthcare is gaining, just examine the investment trends in companies in the digital health industry since 2010. When smartphones were still on the rise and not as widely accepted, the industry was valued at almost $1 billion already. Today, just 6 years later, the digital health industry has shown another major increase from the previous year and are set to exceed the $6 Billion mark.
Medical healthcare innovation hit the tipping point of being globally disseminated, accepted and utilized. 3D printers can now create prosthetics, doctors can operate remotely and lasers can kill cancer. But that is not enough. Technology is now making the shift from treatment-based to prevention-focused health care out of a desire to improve the lives of patients and reduce global healthcare costs.
Innovation in digital healthcare has shifted the way we communicate and leverage tech to offer patients on-the-go medical access they now crave. Wearable devices, smartphones and other Bluetooth enabled devices can now be used by patients to monitor vitals, record symptoms, report anomalies instantly, track medical information and even perform certain medical tasks from the comfort of their own home. Beyond the integration of technology in traditional healthcare capacities, preventative healthcare is becoming the next big frontier for patients and providers alike.
Ironically, this shift away from traditional healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals etc.) and towards technology based innovation is what will likely improve the lives of consumers, as well as reduce overall healthcare costs for the providers in the long run.
Impact of Digital Health on Health Care Costs
Since the 1970’s the rate of healthcare spending has superseded the rest of the economy with expenditure in healthcare increasing annually by almost 10%, (almost 25% more than the rest of the economic growth rate).
In 2015, the global healthcare market was valued at $227.5 Billion USD. That number is expected to reach $349.8 billion by 2020. This growth, which takes into account everything from increased life expectancy to increased costs associated with new drug creation (estimated at about $5 billion per drug) to the rise of ‘modern’ medical ailments such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, is only expected to rise.
While that alone is not reason for concern, dwindling pensions on a global level and the lack of economic stability of recent years makes it a serious cause for concern. When people will no longer be able to afford the healthcare they need due to the high costs, all the medical advancement in the world will not help them.
The top priority is therefore to improve healthcare while reducing overall costs.
The only way to do that is with true and drastic innovation that will radically alter the way the healthcare industry operates. The most recent surge in digital health is the leading way to make all those changes happen.
While ‘traditional’ innovation in medical healthcare (drug creation, machine improvements and treatments for diseases) will likely continue to drain the collective healthcare pocket in order to meet the demands of a growing population that is living longer than ever, the key to reducing overall healthcare costs lies in the ability to prevent diseases before they even require treatment.
Since pamphlets and cheesy health-class videos haven’t helped reduce overall obesity, addiction, heart disease and cancer (among other nearly-preventative diseases) the solution is to use technology to simplify prevention and monitoring of medical conditions.
From wearable fitness devices that keep track of a patient’s heart-rate reminding them to walk more, to applications that remind patients when to take their medicine, innovation in preventative health care will ultimately be the leading cause for reduction in healthcare expenditures.
The moment insurance companies reduce the money spent on cardiovascular diseases caused by obesity will be a true proof of a new era.
Investment in Digital Healthcare
As the digital health industry increases its tech adoption, new investor attention is directed to startups and innovations. In 2015, a total of 36% of the money invested in digital health was given as seed or angel investments. The rise of investments by accelerators, angels and VC’s doesn’t just signal simple industry growth, it also shows that innovation is expected to be lead by startus. For enterprises operating in the digital healthcare industry, this is cause for worry.
As game-changing startups roll-out their solutions at an ever-increasing rate, the market share of large-scale enterprises will begin to diminish if they do not find a way to compete. The challenge here is that enterprises often do not have the resources or do not cultivate a company culture that breeds the type of innovation needed to truly revolutionize the digital health industry. Profiting from the status quo is now a business model ripe for disruption as personalized services and products start to level the playing field.
To combat this, many enterprises have begun turning to partnering with startups for their immediate innovation needs – the challenge here is in the ability of the enterprise to test new innovation within their existing infrastructure in a way that is seamless, quick and scalable. The prooV solution is leading the way enterprises can simplify the PoC process, however to enjoy this new era enterprises need to first recognize their limits and identify what they are willing to partner for.
If enterprises, healthcare providers and startups stepped away from the so-called rat race for market share and focused on the consumer, they would realize that the quickest and most effective way to improve long-term health and mainstream digital health is by bridging the gaps between one another and working together.
As they increase their collaborations, they will not only improve the lives of the patients, they will also improve their bottom line.
The only question is how long it will take them to realize this opportunity.