In the past you would go to the doctor’s office and when they saw you, they would carry a mess of papers documenting your medical history. Now doctors have all these medical records on tablets where they can easily access any patient’s information with a few touches on a screen. This is one of the many ways that digital health is changing our health care system.
The pressures on the practice of medicine are numerous. From healthcare reform to the tsunami of clinical information and data, today’s providers are looking for ways to care and to cope. Technology is an essential part of the solution. And digital health is a central part of this equation. For the past view years some early technologies were released to begin dealing with these issues and have been growing ever since. Now investors believe that it is the time to get on board with digital health as they see in the next few years the market for digital health will explode in size. Just as many other aspects of our lives are already converted to the technology we have, so will the way we receive health care.
Paul Klingenstein, a founding partner in healthcare venture capital investment firm Aberdere, said their latest investments stand in contrast to the way Aberdare and others investing in healthcare have been doing it for years. Klingenstein explains it as a shift away from investments in companies that lead to more expensive, incrementally better healthcare to companies that provide ‘transformational technology’ that ‘tie together to drive efficiency in care for the system, for the individual, and for payers. For example information tools to help people take their drugs, information tools to gather data in doctor’s office, sensors that communicate with systems to perform analytics, and information tools to help people do clinical trials to discover drugs better.
Will Pharma Follow or Lead?
The digital health movement is growing rapidly. Almost every day we hear of new technology, apps and ideas that bring the promise of improved medical care, health and wellness. From hand-held ultrasound devices to smart phone arrhythmia monitoring, the digital health movement isn’t only about expensive pedometers and the ‘gym elite’ but about key areas in health and wellness that will have a direct impact on medical care. Pharma–for better or worse–has a seat at this table.
Yet there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between pharma and many of the innovations that are emerging. Perhaps it’s the very nature of these innovations that conflicts with the conservative pharmaceutical industry. Perhaps it’s still a period of ‘watchful waiting’. Or even, it could be yesterday’s brand managers, sales reps and administrators who, while caressing the piles of pills that define an industry, are just missing what many define as the next revolution since the personal computer. Whatever the case, there are many compelling reasons for pharma to embrace digital health. If not for today, certainly in the not so distant future.
Whatever the cause, pharma needs to take notice. The cases studies and talking points that drive a traditional brand detail must be rethought and redefined in the context of tomorrow’s clinical reality. A reality that’s actually happening today.