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Healthtech - Redesigning the future of staying healthy

There are many inventions by startups in the field of healthcare. The applications help diagnose, monitor and manage patients in a better way. The wearable technology has made an impact on most of the industries enabling patients track data. Dr. Rafael Grossmann was the first surgeon to use google glass while performing a surgery. This wearable technology is meeting the demands of patients as well as doctors.


Firstly, the idea of receiving medical treatment exclusively at a doctor’s office or the hospital will seem quite quaint.”  

— Harvard Business Review  


Innovation is targeting every corner of the industry, and healthcare is one among them. Innovative startups and companies are offering wide range of technology enablers for clinical solutions, healthcare applications, medical devices, wearable technologies, data analytics and virtual reality. These enablers are key disruptors in healthcare delivered.  


Adoption of IT in healthcare has followed the same trends as other industries. The beginning of the use of IT in the 1950’s to automate repetitive tasks like healthcare payers, accounting and payroll can be considered as first collaboration of technology with healthcare. Second revolutionary wave for IT adoption in healthcare arrived in 70’s, which supported B2B processes such as supply chain management within and outside individual industries. The effect of second revolutionary wave of IT adoption in healthcare industry was seen with the introduction of electronic health card in Germany. It was also a catalyst for the health information technology for economic and clinical health act in the United States and the national programme for IT in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.


Healthcare systems are bound to resolve a host of challenges and leverage opportunities presented by medical advancement. The advancements in genetics, IT and nanotechnology have given rise to a more personalized healthcare approach. The healthcare system is evaluated using parameters, such as access to the best available treatments and to non-institutionalised care; compliance with treatments and even patient’s choice. This highly dynamic healthcare environment has created a need for companies in healthcare to start thinking about what the future of healthcare might look like. Many are too constrained by their standing status quo of how the industry has operated in the past, or they have a rather narrow perspective. Many believe that due to the sensitive nature of healthcare, patients will not opt for digital health care services. According to McKinsey’s global survey, more than 75% of people would choose digital healthcare services for its services that meets and provides expected level of quality. It also shows that patients of all age groups are ready to use digital services for healthcare. More than 70% of all older patients in the United Kingdom and Germany wanted to use digital healthcare services. In Singapore, the number is even greater.  


To most people, the ‘robotic doctor’ sounds like a thing of fiction, but it plays an important role in the future of healthcare. The innovation in technology is already shifting the perceptions and shaping the new reality. Data companies are trying to revolutionize the healthcare industry. New trends are starting to emerge in the rigid and stubborn structure of healthcare. Due to the availability of data on cloud, healthcare tasks are moving online. Digitalization of diagnoses has helped to prevent diseases by providing necessary assessment and medication. For instance, detecting the early symptoms of a virus or increase in body temperature will help people to take preventive measures.  


The devices linking personal fitness to an individual’s lifestyle and supporting predictive medicines have become a necessity. Entrepreneurs are utilizing smart devices and vast amount of clinical data to improve the patient experience. They have done advancements in big data and predictive analytics that led to creation of robots doing healthcare tasks on their own. For example, Eve is a robot, built to deliver vital samples and supplies at San Francisco Medical Centre. Entrepreneurs must collaborate with healthcare organizations and other key healthcare players to address the gaps in technology. This need has already been recognized by incubators like Chicago’s Matter, the incubator which connects innovators with research institutions and other health care stakeholders to create new age life-science startups. High tech devices have already become a part of healthcare systems and playing a major role in improving the quality of healthcare.  


There is already a very diverse and exciting group of sensing technologies available, that require the patient to provide just a single drop of blood mixed with nanoscale test strips for process. This identifies the ailments ranging from simple colds, flu and more serious diseases like Ebola, with gold standard accuracy. A wearable patch monitors vital signs, such as breathing and heart rate, sharing data over Bluetooth with either the device or the user's smartphone.  


Those who will adapt and innovate technology to connect doctors with diagnostic tools, will be in a position to provide scalable supply to meet demand. The most common deliverable in healthcare is to provide assistance during daily tasks and navigating the often-complex healthcare system. Countries with different healthcare systems cited one common assistance requisite that patients’ most often look for help—finding and scheduling physician appointments with prescription refills and selection of the right specialist.  


There are many inventions by startups in the field of healthcare. The applications help diagnose, monitor and manage patients in a better way. The wearable technology has made an impact on most of the industries enabling patients track data. Dr. Rafael Grossmann was the first surgeon to use google glass while performing a surgery. This wearable technology is meeting the demands of patients as well as doctors.  


The opportunity to innovate the way clinical trials were conducted on animals, led to the invention of microchips modelling clinical trials. This technology enabled the scientists and doctors to conduct the trials, safely and with precision for better human patient treatment. The microchips developed can reconstruct the complex interfaces between organs and capillaries. This idea is similar to the idea of micro fabrication. It has resulted in reconstruction of organs by focussing on the use of complicated system of microchips. 3D printing is another innovation in healthcare sector. Today, the technology has large number of applications varying from art and design to a complex architecture model. The medical uses of 3D printing are extremely practical; the technology can perform tasks like printing human skin to blood vessels and heart tissues.  

There are so many companies working to advance healthtech. As technology evolves, consumer driven healthcare becomes more appealing. Companies like iCouch, a mental health technology company provides secure communications, scheduling and payments for mental health professionals. It is taking the world of psychiatric analysis by storm. It can be a hassle to drive to a therapist’s place back and forth. iCouch is a web app that pairs users with therapists who typically charge between USD 65 and USD 90 for 50 minutes of video chat time. The app, can be used via web on webcam enabled desktop or laptop. iCouch creates partnership with hospitals, insurance companies and hospitals to offer mental health services to the respective partner’s employees, customers, and patients. It has more than 5000 paid users, and is adding about 15 therapists per week to its database of several hundreds of them from all over the world.  

Instead of using paper, healthcare organisations are going for Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Practicefusion, a cloud-based service which can be set up in minutes, is the fastest growing EMR community in the US with over 150,000 medical users who have access to the health records of 33 million patients. Hospital records and processes are moving from written to digital. Most of the people use their mobile devices to do work. Even physicians are taking that route. Doctors use platforms like DrChrono iPad Patient Care Platform. It helps them to manage their practices with help of different electronic devices. Activities like electronically prescribing, billing any insurance company or maintaining EMR are all being carried out on the platform. The company has seen exponential growth, going from a small user base of hundreds to more than 15,000 registered healthcare providers and more than 400,000 patients. 


With all new technology coming into the market, speed of information exchange is becoming the key. With the development of SwiftPayMD, doctors can dictate diagnoses and billing cost. Benefits of using SwiftPayMD are no delays, correct billing amount and time saving. It is available for USD 99 per month.  


The healthcare industry is expensive, and people pay a lot of money to fund their well-being. Simplee, is an American software-as-a-service company that develops payment software for the health care industry. It helps people to manage their out-of-pocket healthcare costs which, on average, run about USD 3600 a year for a family of four. Information like money spent on healthcare, health saving account balance and status of insurance deductible is readily available on the platform. Since launching in 2011, Simplee has tracked hundreds of thousands of doctors’ visits worth USD 200 million in claims.  


Doximity, like LinkedIn, connects doctors on a social media platform. It gives doctors the privilege of consulting another doctor to seek help for a complex case. Doctors on Doximity provide information about their training, clinical trials they have conducted, etc., all of which will be accessible to all. Doximity members get paid about USD 250 to USD 500 an hour to hand over their opinions on such matters.  


Robotics has come a long way in the healthcare industry. They are now a part of routine surgeries and work alongside humans to make life better. Robotic exoskeletons, in healthcare allow paralyzed people to walk. “We are starting with soldiers and paralyzed people because their needs are great and opportunity for funding is better. But you can imagine exoskeletons for workers using heavy tools to hold for more than a few minutes. And a consumer version for people who want to run a marathon or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.”—Eythor Bender.  

As the digitization of most of the B2C industries has evolved the notion of healthcare consumers, the application of technology allows video conference medical consultancy. The new age smartphones connected with IoT healthcare devices are allowing doctors to monitor patient’s health from a distant place. These devices are enabling doctors to trace activity logging, heart rhythm and many other in-depth physical examinations of patient. Enterprises with specialized knowledge and advanced skillset in areas like analytics and healthcare delivery will interact and compete through the common data and resource aggregation platforms. Infrastructure providers will be providing the routine healthcare facilities.  


Advancement in technology is not only helping healthcare providers in increasing patient engagement and enhancing service quality, it is also enabling governments to reach people with health care information, businesses to customize employee wellness programs and people to take control of their own health.  


PwC’s health research gives a fair idea that people are ready to abandon the traditional healthcare techniques. Activities like examining strep throat or chemotherapy should be done at home. According to David Moen, a physician and medical director of care model innovation at Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services, the future of care includes different delivery models like phone, internet and group visits. As part of Fairview Health Services pilot program with BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, it started to see some patients via internet using a webcam and a telephone. This online care model does not only extend healthcare access to people in rural or underserved areas, but it can offer the physicians a unique way to control schedule. Technology has provided caregivers ways to continuously engage with patients for providing excellent healthcare from anywhere. It is also helping patients and providers by provides a much necessary feedback loop.  


Telehealth, remote biometric monitoring, and technology assisted health coaching are powerful tools to improve chronic care outcomes. They support patients in learning to manage diet, exercise habits and medication routines. Type 2 diabetes patients were provided with a mobile app to motivate them and give behavioural coaching. This led to drop in patients’ A1C level (measures the glucose level/blood sugar level in the blood). Companies have rapidly started adopting technology for their wellness programs. For instance, Virtual Wellness portal extracts numbers from on-site health screenings and provide recipient with action plan. 


There are options available to examine moles, rashes and other skin diseases with digital photographs. These platforms also allow consumers to connect to a specialist of choice for online consultation. CellScope’s Oto, a smartphone accessory that captures digital images of the ear canal, went on the market at the end of 2014 at USD 79 for home users and USD 299 for medical professionals. Scan-adu scout, a replica of “tricoder” of Star Trek, hoped to be part of every family’s medical kit.  


The Global Healthcare Market valued at USD 8,452 billion in 2018 is expected to grow at USD 11,908 billion by 202264. This accelerated growth will be derived from several factors like government support for healthcare IT solutions, regulatory compliance management, high return on healthcare IT solutions; inclusion of big data, virtual reality and internet of things etc.  

The telemedicine market valued at USD 21 billion in 2018, is estimated to be valued at USD 60 billion by 2024, a CAGR of 18.50%.65 It has an immense potential to play a major role in meeting healthcare needs of growing global population. The exponential rise in population has given rise to chronic diseases. Factors such as scarcity of healthcare professionals’ worldwide, need for affordable treatment options and improvements in infrastructure gave rise to telemedicine market. Data analytics impacted segments like value-based patient centric care, where care providers, doctors, hospitals, and health insurance work together to deliver personalized care. Patient satisfaction is measured basis the care that is efficient, price conscious and transparent.  


The advancements in digital healthcare have put traditional healthcare techniques at risk. But they still have a way to save themselves by collaborating with the new age players, gain knowledge on implementing these technologies and applying effectively. Global Digital Health 100 is one of the Healthtech industries foremost technology awards programmes for innovation and entrepreneurship. It identifies and supports healthcare technology companies for its demonstrated delivery potential. Some of the innovators that applied technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, telehealth, digital therapeutics and behavioural change programmes are: Acuity Link –It is a comprehensive communications and logistics management platform that links healthcare systems with non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers and ambulance crew members for all levels of care and modes of transportation. With Acuity Link’s technology, organizations benefit from instant access to the closest available and most suitable transportation resources, reducing bottlenecks that impact patient flow, leading to shorter discharge times, and in turn, enhanced patient care and experience. Ada Health–It offers an AI-powered health platform that is helping millions of people around the world understand their health and navigate to the appropriate care. Ada’s sophisticated artificial intelligence technology also supports clinical decision making and enables payers and providers to deliver quality, and more effective healthcare. Ada launched globally in 2016 and has been the number 1 medical app in over 130 countries. Corti—a machine-learning company that provides accurate diagnostic advice to emergency services, allowing patients to get the right treatments faster. Corti can identify patterns of anomalies or conditions of interest with a high level of speed and accuracy. In the case of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), Corti can reduce the number of undetected OHCAs by more than 50%. Propeller Health–is a leading digital therapeutics company dedicated to the development and commercialization of measurably better medicines. Propeller creates products to more effectively treat disease and improve clinical outcomes for patients across a range of therapeutic areas through connectivity, analytics, and companion digital experiences. The Propeller platform is used by patients, physicians and healthcare organizations in the US, Europe and Asia.  


According to CB Insights, over 150 digital health startups have made its hallmark on the transformation of the healthcare industry, with new models and tech solutions. These startups have developed AI tools for disease diagnosis, health insurance, and drug discovery. The startup encompasses patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies as primary stakeholders.  

Medical devices are evolving beyond sight. Digital therapeutics ‘Abilify Mycite’ is an ingestible embedded sensor drug that is helping in expanding the scope of medical devices. Grail, a genomics startup received funding of USD 1.61 billion; Oscar Health, an insurance tech startup, received funding of USD 1.26 billion; We Doctor, a healthcare platform startup received funding of USD 1.03 billion in 2019. AI is in the forefront for consumer health companies in imaging, and diagnostics. 

Understanding consumer’s needs and wants, can be the foremost step to start with. New age tech-based healthcare providers are offering wide variety of services to choose from. Healthcare companies should focus on providing exemplary customer experience that can earn trust. If the demands are not met on time, patients will leave the healthcare providers. Making pricing and payments hassle-free and transparent as possible, aligning working hours to patient’s convenience and making services available through digital devices, are few vital adoptions for incumbents. Despite all the advantages, there is still a need for old and new enterprises to be more creative. They must win patients’ trust. Customers will win with more high quality, affordable and simpler options.  


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