Digitizing the Healthcare Industry for Patients

Digital Healthcare

Healthcare, like all other industries, is experiencing a phase of rapid transformation due to digitalization and increased use of technology.

While the traditionally old-school industry has been reluctant to embrace radical disruption, it is unique due to the fact that demand for innovation is largely patient driven. Today’s consumers are opting for preventive treatments that challenge traditional healthcare models. Rather than a “fix it when it breaks” thinking, patients are taking to digital solutions such as FitBits and other wearable technologies for preventative healthcare services.

According to Startup Health, over $8 billion was invested in over 500 digital health companies by almost 900 unique investors in 2016, with the largest portion invested in companies focusing on patient experiences.

The Evolution of Healthcare

While today the industry is constantly seeking new medicinal innovations, the healthcare industry only began integrating technology into hospitals in the 1950s. Were the innovations for health purposes? Nope, back then they were only for accounting and payroll purposes.  Then, in the 1970s, a second wave of innovation in healthcare took place, with the adoption of Information Technology systems in order to manage healthcare operations. Though this was an advance, the focus of the innovation remained mainly on the hospitals and less so on the patients. The most modern innovations have continued the trend and focused on efficiency and digitization of the institutional side of healthcare.

With innovations being enterprise focused, the dependency on technology and availability of information for patients escalated exponentially. As a result, the modern wave of patient-focused healthcare innovations are offered by creatively thinking, startups and SMBs.

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Patient-Driven Innovation

Innovators and entrepreneurs are understanding what patients want and combining that information with their digital offerings in order to create needed solutions.

Organizations such as the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Catalyst are dedicated to bringing together healthcare executives and innovators in order to transform the healthcare industry. According to the NEJM’s most recent report, 65% of healthcare professionals believe that startups will be the driving force behind healthcare’s greatest disruptions because of the importance they place on patient experience.

There’s a notion that patients don’t feel comfortable using technology for sensitive information and have privacy concerns. The reality, however, is that 75% of patients want to use digital healthcare solutions, with the sole condition that they provide the level of quality they expect, indicating that the available solutions until now have simply not been good enough.

Innovation for All Ages

Contrary to what one might thing, the desire for digital health solutions is not focused on the younger generation; in fact, according to a McKinsey Healthcare Insight report,

“Older patients (those over 50) want digital healthcare services nearly as much as their younger counterparts… More than 70 percent of all older patients in the United Kingdom and Germany want to use digital healthcare services; in Singapore, that number is even higher.”

Generational differences are seen, though, in the preferred method of communication (email and websites, preferred by the older generations versus apps and social media, preferred by the younger generation). The demand for innovation shown by all generations, old and young, has led to a shift in the way the healthcare industry perceives innovation, and as a result, has opened up the door for companies outside the traditional healthcare industry to try and provide innovative healthcare solutions.

Healthcare Movers and Shakers

Startups in all verticals are working hard to create viable and groundbreaking solutions for patients.

Prior to the latest digital revolution, amputees needed to shell out anywhere from $5,000-$50,000 in order to get a prosthetic. Today though, widely available 3D printers are being used to create affordable prosthetic limbs for amputees. The open source “Enable Community Foundation” offers low-cost 3D prosthetics that can be printed anywhere, often for less than $50 per limb. Organizations such as Field Ready have taken 3D technology one step further and are using it to create on-demand medical devices for hospitals such as birthing kits, oxygen tank splitters, and more.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology being used to transform healthcare. Funding for healthcare-focused AI startups nearly quadrupled between 2012 and 2016 and experts anticipate that by 2025, AI will impact nearly every aspect of healthcare. Qventus, founded by an engineer who simply saw chaos in hospitals and sought to fix it, is already credited with reducing hospital stays by 14% and the time patients wait to see a doctor by 20%, thanks to their AI based solution that turns data into actionable items for healthcare workers.

Hospitals are beginning to recognize the impact startups have on their patients, and some are even partnering with startups to offer advanced preventative innovations for patients. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago partnered with SeamlessMD in order to provide surgery patients with an app that guides them through the recovery and rehabilitation process. The results of the pilot showed reduced hospital duration times and improved results reported by patients who felt their recovery was facilitated thanks to the app.

The Future of Healthcare

As investments in healthcare startups continue to rise, so to will innovations. Hospitals and traditional healthcare organizations are shifting the way they view innovation, emphasizing the importance of the patient more than anything else. As preventative healthcare continues to rise in popularity, patients will continue to be informed and seek digital solutions, opening up the market for startups looking to make a difference in the healthcare world.

How are we at prooV making our impact? By connecting startups with enterprises and helping innovators run proof-of-concepts more quickly and easily than ever before in the hopes that one of the pilots brings about the next big change in digital healthcare and helps patients worldwide.

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