The growth of healthcare technology has been record-breaking in recent years — it has led to a wave of up-and-coming startups aimed at solving some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges. These companies are molding the future of healthcare technology.
As in all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for the healthcare sector, requiring immediate, innovative, and large-scale solutions. This turning point also enabled new innovations in areas such as virtual care, interventions addressing social determinants of health, and the integration of social care, healthcare, and mental healthcare. As healthcare rapidly evolves, the innovations led by healthcare startups are laying the path for a new future of care.
Venture capital has fueled investments in startups across the healthcare sector. Market trends in healthcare — such as the move to patient-centered care and value-based care payment models — provide ample opportunity for healthcare technology companies to support health systems, providers, payers, and patients. Healthcare is moving away from delivery and reimbursement models focused on the quality of services delivered (managing utilization and paying through fee-for service models). The industry is instead shifting to an outcomes-based approach with a growing focus on measuring healthcare outcomes, patient experience, and tying payments to value-based financial models, which reward providers for providing care that results in improved outcomes and lower costs.
Healthcare technology startups are aligning their efforts with this overall direction, developing technology and models that enable providers to adapt to the changing environment. As healthcare leaders optimize administrative, operational, and clinical systems within their organizations, they’re seeking healthcare technology companies to help them align with this value-based approach. Health systems, hospitals, payers, and other large stakeholders in healthcare are seeking the solutions that optimize their ability to adapt to these trends.
For many healthcare startups, record venture capital funding has propelled them into the big leagues. In 2021, venture capital investment for healthcare technology companies was more than $29.1 billion, nearly doubling 2020’s total of $14.9 billion. Startups focused on mental healthcare earned the largest share of these investments. Investors have also focused heavily on technology solutions that enable virtual care, but it’s patient data that has received the greatest share of the limelight. Solutions that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology into open, secure, and interoperable platforms for patient data have seen massive investments in this space.
Trends in healthcare technology
Advances in healthcare technology are largely focused on solving the same problems: lowering costs, ensuring patients are engaged and empowered through education, empowering clinicians to deliver patient-centered care, measuring outcomes and utilization of services, and supporting value-based care arrangements.
Startups are focusing on friction within the healthcare market and identifying new paths to meeting the needs of patients and providers. The most notable areas are in remote patient monitoring, patient-provider matching, virtual care platforms, women’s health, and optimizing diagnosis and treatment. Some of the top healthcare startups leading the way in these areas are outlined below.
Monitoring patients remotely
Remote patient monitoring technologies allow patients to be monitored outside of typical clinical settings (such as a hospital or doctor’s office) and instead be monitored at home or in a remote location. This technology can allow patients to have greater access to care and can also reduce healthcare costs.
Wearable devices are one example of remote patient monitoring — just as an Apple Watch or Fitbit can monitor certain physical activity, advanced technology exists and is being developed to monitor specific health indicators. This type of technology can be incredibly important for detecting potential mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Kintsugi is a healthcare technology company tackling these issues with a machine-learning algorithm that analyzes 20-second excerpts of an individual’s speech. The company’s app provides a video-journaling feature and the algorithm analyzes 20-second excerpts to identify signs of depression and anxiety. Users are provided with charts of their depression and anxiety levels over time. Future applications include integration into enterprise call centers, telehealth platforms, and remote patient monitoring apps, expanding the potential reach of this technology.
Pairing patients with practitioners
Healthcare technology is also being used to match patients with the best care provider by taking into account information such as individual needs and preferences, demographic information, healthcare coverage, and location.
One company in this space is SonderMind, an online and in-person therapy platform that matches patients to local therapists based on answers to an online questionnaire. SonderMind simplifies the process of finding a therapist and making an appointment. It also streamlines the process for providers, allowing them to focus on delivering care. By reducing some of the friction associated with seeking mental healthcare, patients are able to get care faster.
Enabling care that can happen anywhere
The rapid rise of virtual care startups has expanded the reach of primary and specialty care across the U.S. Virtual care eliminates some of the most pressing challenges faced by patients, allowing care to be delivered with no travel or wait time in physician offices.
Virtual care allows patients better access to board-certified providers and specialists with deep expertise. Geography no longer limits patients to who they can seek care from, and allows providers to extend their services beyond patients they’d traditionally see in person.
Aimed at transforming primary care, TytoCare connects patients to clinicians through its app, which uses AI and walks through a series of medical exam questions. The patient’s answers are shared with TytoCare clinicians who provide a diagnosis and a prescription if necessary. Patients can even choose to use TytoCare’s technology with their own primary care provider.
Boosting patient engagement
Virtual care isn’t just about pairing patients with clinicians. It’s also about keeping patients engaged. Care
Management platforms on the cutting edge come with a suite of features that keep care teams and patients more connected than ever.
With the right technology, a care team can create workflows, automations, and reminders that meet patients where they want to be contacted. Care teams can send out automated messages that check in with a patient — they can even administer NPS and patient-reported outcome questionnaires.
In the midst of this virtual care revolution, it’s fitting that reminders from Care Management platforms can include links to video-based exams. In most applications, virtual exams have been proven just as effective as in-person exams.
As the applications for virtual exams widen, care teams now have the ability to administer a rehab program, for example, without requiring in-person appointments. Clinicians can schedule regular check-ins over text, email, video chat, or over the phone with a single click. Since virtual appointment attendance is typically higher, these extra touch-points will keep patients on track and engaged with their care.
Focusing on women’s health
A growing market within healthcare technology has been women’s health. Women’s healthcare extends beyond annual visits — it includes developing targeted solutions focused on needs such as menstrual cycle tracking, fertility, pregnancy, menopause, and mental health support.
There are a number of startups in this space, and each focuses on specific areas of women’s health. Modern Fertility markets itself to people with ovaries who want to learn more about their bodies. The company brings reproductive health and fertility tests into the home, transforming the way women can learn more about their health.
Women’s healthcare is rapidly expanding in the healthcare technology market, allowing more women to access the care they need from the privacy of their own home.
Optimizing diagnosis and treatment
Advances in technology such as AI, machine learning, data science and smart machines hold the promise of revolutionizing clinical care. These technologies enable providers to make key clinical decisions on shorter timelines and with much better accuracy.
Future developments may even reduce the role clinicians need to play in routine care, eliminating human error. An even more streamlined process would give clinicians more time to address complex care needs, analyze health outcomes, and focus on patient satisfaction.
Paige — short for Pathology Artificial Intelligence Guidance Engine — uses AI to develop and deliver a new generation of digital diagnostics and predictive tests. The startup aims to address the challenge of rising cancer diagnoses and a shrinking field of trained pathologists. Paige supports clinicians in diagnosing cancer and assists life science companies with diagnostic and therapeutic development.
Molding the future of care
Patient-centered care is the driving force behind these healthcare technology advancements. To be successful, care teams must be on the same page about patients, ensuring every provider on the team has up-to-date information on a patient and that the most appropriate care is delivered. Care Management software is essential for enabling patient-centered care and empowers clinicians to focus on delivering personalized experiences that improve patient outcomes.
As healthcare becomes increasingly focused on patient-centered approaches, new technologies are leading the way in deploying innovative solutions to meet patient needs, support clinicians, and enable better outcomes. You can expect to see more activity in this area specifically focused on patient experience, value-based care, and expanding access through virtual models. The healthcare technology market is only expected to grow in 2022 and future years, building on the significant investments seen recently.
To learn more about achieving patient-centered care with the right technology, check out our guide.