Taming the Wild West of digital medicine

January 5, 2017 Kymberly Drake

The new paradigm of healthcare is widely becoming known as “The Digital Health Revolution,” referring to medical technology advancements so great that when combined with wearables, medication sensors and amplified data analysis, they can provide patients and physicians with greater power to measure and improve treatment outcomes.

But what does it mean to the current state and future of the healthcare industry? It’s our industry’s modern-day conundrum and much like the advancement of cell phones, the technology isn’t going away and adaptation is inevitable over time.

Smart devices were just the beginning

As Nicole Fisher, Founder and CEO at HHR Strategies, Inc. and Forbes contributor, highlights in her recent three-part blog article series, digital changes to the health ecosystem will be on par with those caused by the introduction of antibiotics and anesthesia more than a century ago.

However, with technology this powerful, it’s impossible to explore its infinite possibilities by working in a silo. Partnerships must be formed to benefit the whole.

“Health and technology experts have been highlighting the importance of partnerships for many years, but only in the last few—as digital medicine has gained traction—are we beginning to understand that for a unified understanding of human biology and to improve health throughout the lifespan, we need partners at all stages of research, development, commercialization and regulation,” Fisher said in her first digital medicine article of the series called, “Digital Health: Smart Devices Were Just the Beginning.” “This cooperation could mean that not only are diagnostics and treatments better, faster and cheaper, but that individuals can become the CEO of their own health.”

The intersection of technology and medicine

A recent digital medicine video that Fisher helped to produce with EBD Group points out that the connectivity that will be created by the convergence of computers and health will truly alter the way knowledge, technology and insights into the future revolutionize healthcare. Industry experts James R. Mault, MD, FACS, of Qualcomm Life; Jason D. Sibley of Flare Capital Partners; Jared Josleyn of Verily Life Sciences; and Cris De Luca of Johnson & Johnson Innovation also weigh in on where they think the future of the new technology will take us.

Investment landscape: Separating the tools from the toys

According to Asher Rubin, Global Head of the Life Sciences and Healthcare Industry Team of Hogan Lovells, when separating the tools from the toys in digital medicine some of the first questions asked by potential investors are, “How will it be approved, or not? How will it be reimbursed? And will the industry even care enough to pay?”

Fisher’s second digital medicine article in the three-part series examines the ups and downs of investment activity in this space and how VCs view this segment.

“While VCs have never played in the health sector the way they traditionally do, the importance, interest and potential gain in the emergent health tech space is proving that VCs make good partners,” Fisher said.

What about security?

As Fisher points out in her third digital medicine article, security and privacy are a foundational component of digital medicine’s future, and we must begin looking at the wide range of implications that data and technology will have in the health arena.

“Connections and collaboration with various decision makers and investors from the life sciences sector can make all the difference,” she said, noting the recent partnership announcement between Qualcomm, the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), DHX Group, and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to revamp a multi-stakeholder collaborative nonprofit—Xcertia—dedicated to improving the quality, safety, and effectiveness of mobile health apps. Xcertia’s membership and governing board will be open to broad representation from consumers, developers, payers, clinicians, academia and others with an interest in the development of guidelines, best practices and security of mobile health tech.

Taming the Wild West

Much like with any technological advances, there is a period of adaptation and acceptance. Digital medicine is becoming more widely embraced by the medical field because it creates new possibilities in preventative care and the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease. The technology is also becoming more accepted in our society as a progressive approach to healthcare because patients are increasingly empowered to monitor and improve their own health. Combining these advancements with widespread acceptance by the industry and general population, along with collaborative business ventures, could lead to further important developments in healthcare that have the possibility to benefit us in ways we never thought possible.    

 

Digital medicine companies need a business strategy to ensure their innovative ideas will get to market and to work together with other industry stakeholders to make the biggest impact while protecting customers. Make the necessary connections with decision makers, influencers and investors from the life sciences sector by attending Digital Medicine Showcase this January in San Francisco.

 

 

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