2013: The Year of Digital Health
(John Nosta Nails it in this Article; he needs to be followed: ED)
It seems that the stars are aligned. These glimmers of facts, figures, innovation and needs are converging on the year 2013. And the result promises to be an inflection point for digital health. The curve of innovation will shift and place us all on a new course for managing disease and wellness.
The Touch Points of Change…
#1. Explosive new technology
Think about the smart phone and how far its come in just a few short years. Today, technology is the new intellectual playground that connects vision with application. The “computer” is yesterday’s news and now the advancement of innovation across a wide variety of areas (gaming, manufacturing, communications, etc.) is being applied to health with striking speed and expertise. And the players are both big, well-funded companies as well as smart, adroit and nimble start ups.
#2. The pressing need to advance healthcare and the Affordable Care Act
There’s almost no scientific, political or sociological discussion that doesn’t find its way to health and healthcare. The costs, access and resources are a key driver to seeking solutions to the health dilemma that exists right now and is projected to only get worse. Technology has always been part of the answer in other areas. Today, innovation and technology are poised to advance care in new directions that can drive new efficiencies and lead a course to self-care and wellness.
#3. The caldron of connectivity
Ideas are promiscuous. The profound interconnectedness of thinkers and ideas create a “neural-network” that powers our imaginations. And while exclusivity and the reality of business may obstruct this free-form engagement, the cross-pollination still flourishes. Unlike other social and technological movement of the past, our path and mechanism of innovation is driven by a new nature of collaboration, still driven by a competitive spark!
Another important driver to the digital health revolution is the increasing level of patient / caregiver connectivity. The role of tele-medicine will foster new connections for care and become an essential proving ground for new “tricorder-type” technology that makes the interaction more clinically robust.
#4. The power of cool
Change is a funny thing. And for many people, that advancement of technology often diffuses slowly into a system. The advantage of the digital health movement is that carries “the stamp of cool” and takes clinical / social utility to a place beyond the practical–the emotional. It’s not about taking a pill, but living the life of innovation that is validated by science and medicine.
#5. The empowerment of the “quantified self” in health
Our lives are quantified in many ways. From banking to shopping habits, we exist as a complex set of numbers and actions. Ask American Express or Amazon. Their ability to quantify our lives provides a powerful engine of commerce and engagement. The same will come to be with our health and wellness. Today, tools to measure key clinical parameters (serum glucose, blood oxygen, etc.) will combine with mainstream devices used by joggers and athletes. The result will become “full circle” data that will proactively inform us of issues and concerns.
It’s really nothing new at all. Think about your check engine light or tire pressure indicator in your car. Simple diagnostic tools that allow you to get ahead of an automotive problem. The same will apply to health as sensors and devices track, analyses and alert us to our own physiology. From tracking your body temperature to monitoring the effectiveness of an antibiotic to proactively tracking blood pressure, you will know more about yourself than ever before. And all this data and knowledge will become less of burden and more of reassurance that all systems are go!
#6. Pharma’s search for new meaning
Unless you’re swallowing a micro-camera that visualizes your colon, the notion of a traditional pill is changing. And the pharmaceutical industry knows it. The evolution of pharmaceutical science will move therapy to include preventative care, gene therapy and other innovations. The pill, as it conventionally exists today, will have a role, but innovation (and digital health) will make conventional therapies a bit harder to swallow.
#7. Big Data and the electronic medical record
New technology and the vast amounts of generated data come a rich source of information. Research protocols, family history, medical records and large-scale epidemiological studies are a significant aspect of digital health. These data may become the single biggest aspect of this new area.
One look at the market potential and another look at the multiple and varied companies entering this area and the conclusion is clear. Money is a key driver to innovation. The increasing role of venture capitol in digital health sends a clarion call of validation that this initiative is here to stay. There’s also a $10 million prize that’s attached to bring the digital health to life. The the Tricorder X Prize and $10 million prize also add to the rewards.
#9. The voices of brilliance
Science, medicine, genenomics, electronics, analytics, etc. The list of contributors to digital health is vast and smart as heck. And the very nature of the mixed and varied voices coming together will result in a “critical mass” of brilliance rarely seen in the conventional business model.
#10. The moral imperative
There’s another simple, yet powerful driver at work here. It’s the right thing to do. The application of digital health to global health issues and the practice of medicine in developing countries can play a tremendous role in changing the very nature and quality of care that directly translates into life-changing and life-saving treatments.
Dynamic Voices Driving the Change…
“The digital infrastructure has been building for a while. Smart phones, social networks and apps are really taking hold and becoming the very fabric of society. So, 2013 is breakout time and many ingenious platforms are gaining traction. And it’s not only the smart phone itself–but new hardware will provide external enhancements and over time, these advances will be built right in! Finally, digital health may be the best and most efficient way of getting out of our healthcare mess with smart and cost-effective solutions.”
Contrarian and Futurist: Walter de Brouwer–CEO of Scanadu
Before Google, information was power, now we all have it. Healthcare can benefit from the very same disruption. It is going to mutate, hacked by evolution and will become a more efficient version of itself. A version where the patient will be discovered as the most underused resource. The grand theory of diagnosis will welcome new players next to doctors: machines, algorithms, patient advocacy communities and the crowd. A Cambrian Revolution of medical devices and apps is the straw that will break the camel’s back. For centuries we have been reading our health, now we will start writing it–changing it in real time. The conversion will be incredible–instead of watching over our health, our health will be watching us!
The Re-Inventor: John Sculley–Digital Health Advocate and former CEO,Apple Computer
“In 2013 the stars are aligning for a Big Bang in healthcare services innovation. Obamacare is constitutionally legal and new healthcare spending regulations will start to emerge from. These will be triggering events to drive entrepreneurial disruptive innovation in the delivery of healthcare services. 2013 will get the ball rolling and by 2014 consumers will wake-up and realize that they have to pay great attention to healthcare costs (e.g. Consequence of Affordable Care act is employers moving to high deductible health plans ).”
Designer of Delight: Sonny Vu–CEO, Misfit Wearables
“It may take another year or two for companies in the digital health ecosystem to really reach mainstream acceptance and long-term sustainable business models. That said, it could be a break-out year for consumer wellness/fitness devices. Additionally, there should be some traction outside the techy/quantified self/early adopter communities and this will expand the market potential tremendously. Users will demand higher quality in devices (better materials, better build quality, etc.).
One area I think we’ll see some significant early stage growth in is with the first generation of machine learning software and services that we were starting to see in 2012; they will manifest in the form of smarter wellness/fitness coaches and more robust clinical decision support.”
Uncertain promises to surprise us all
The value of the digital health revolution to healthcare and wellness is almost immeasurable. Currently, innovations outpace applications and the future seems almost redefined on a daily basis. But out of this creative chaos will emerge a profound transformation of healthcare that will make the vision of Star Trek and Fantastic Voyage seem almost mundane.