Industry leader CBInsights recently conducted a study on digital health startups and their impact on medical innovation. Because Welkin believes in making care accessible to all, and improving care teams efficiency and effectiveness, we welcomed the opportunity to enter the study.
The participants we joined represent a wide swath within health care, ranging from developers of clinical tools to alternative insurance models. By looking at the 150 most promising health tech startups, CBInsights provided clear insights into the changes being made to global medicine. Here is a summary:
Why Digital Health Startups Matter For Medical Advancement
Traditionally, the health care industry hasn’t been fond of change. For example, medical institutions have remained dependent on outdated and inefficient models of care.
In many cases, these inefficient modes of operation are directly tied to tech systems that are past their prime. And very few providers have wanted to challenge the status quo by implementing tech solutions from other industries.
Many of the medical systems in the U.S. have well-trained staff and up-to-date facilities. However, there’s been an absence of groundbreaking change in medical technology—until recently. As a result, providers can’t move forward with much-needed tech elements such as machine learning and personalized care.
And since most providers can’t keep up with the patient demand while creating new tech solutions, independent digital health care startups are taking up the torch and meeting this need.
The influx of health tech startups has created disruption within the industry. That’s not to say that these new companies are trying to completely alter health care as we know it. In reality, many are partnering with well-established systems and tweaking key factors contributing to stagnant delivery and revenue streams.
That being said, everyone seems to want in on the health care market (i.e. Apple, Amazon, and CVS who threaten to take large market segments from key stakeholders). Because of this, traditional providers are being challenged to welcome health tech innovation.
Consequently, the industry is becoming ripe for further digital health changes.
For many, the goal is that these health tech modifications will promote accessible, affordable care regardless of socioeconomic status, geographic region, or other social determinants of health.
Fueling the Rapid Expansion of Health Tech Funding
According to the CBInsights report, the top active investors are F-Prime Capital, New Enterprise Associates, and Google Ventures. In the first half of 2018 alone, $10.6 billion of venture capital was invested in health care startups. But why is capital raise growing within health care in the first place?
Due to the rise of technology, most consumers are used to getting what they need when they need it. From on-demand streaming to grocery delivery, there’s an app for immediate access. When it comes to health care, however, patients can’t always get the information or care they need. And in the traditional health care model, clinicians tend to make the majority of the choices related to a patient’s health.
Many consumer giants like Amazon are jumping into the health care arena with the goal of driving costs down and giving patients more authority over their own health. The result of this disruption is that traditional health care models like IDNs and hospitals need better ways to retain patients and keep pace with newer models.
Digital health innovations are often a cost-effective way to improve operations within conventional health care while also creating strong ties between patients and their providers. This increased market opportunity for health tech innovation has led to greater capital raise. As a result, more investors are drawn into the expanding opportunity within digital health startups.
The HITECH Act pushed many health care organizations from paper records to digital data storing. Because this act incentivized the implementation of EHRs and tightened up regulations for HIPAA compliance, many new market opportunities became available to health tech developers and investors.
As a result, 86% of physicians implemented an EHR solution by 2017. Needless to say, the need for digital health options skyrocketed as more IDNs and hospitals configured these new platforms.
Since EHRs focus primarily on large interactions and ensure that payers follow through, these new systems unwittingly created holes in the patient experience. This made even more space for digital health startups and capital venture in the industry.
In addition, health care demographics are rapidly changing as Baby Boomers age. Traditional medical systems weren’t designed to handle such an extraordinary emphasis on in-home care and long-term care.
Since patients over the age of 65 are expected to increase by over 70% between 2010 and 2030, health care will need to increase geriatricians from 8,800 to 33,000 in order to meet the high demand. This represents yet another reason why tech solutions have room for growth within health care.
Startups like Welkin, for instance, help providers virtually monitor relationships with patients while knowing when in-person visits are required. Other digital health startups included in the CBInsights study focus on making insurance more affordable and available for patients including Oscar Health, Accolade and Bend Financial. Still others, like Vim, help patients align incentives between providers and payers so that they can find the most affordable care option for their particular condition.
Digital health startups are striving to make care more accessible and cost-effective for patients, providers and payers across the board.
CBInsights reveals that these innovators are scattered throughout all realms, departments, and focuses of health care. As a result, health innovators are situated to make a difference within the long term trajectory of health care as they gain more investor capital.
Common Themes Among Health Tech Innovators
CBInsights discovered several common points of emphasis among digital health companies.
AI and Machine Learning
Many startups are leveraging machine learning to advance their system’s performance. In this way, they’re better able to interpret health data as well as prevent the onset of chronic illnesses and other comorbidities. For health organizations, this means that even if their technology doesn’t allow for such data-mining, by partnering with digital health companies they can gather invaluable insights that can save time and money.
For instance, Welkin’s platform coordinates with existing EMRs and synthesizes data so that care teams can see the progress of patients. This allows care teams to see, at a glance, which patients need more interaction, care ,and preventative measures.
Many sectors within health care are concerned about how to treat the high volume of older patients. Many startups are treating this concern as an opportunity to provide efficient, cost-effective monitoring and better long term care for this sector of the market.
Social Determinants of Health
Senior care isn’t the only population sector that’s causing concern. Other patient groups, such as those with socioeconomic challenges, geographic limitations, and poor education are often at a greater risk for costly medical problems. Many digital health care startups have defined this challenge and are innovating solutions that can optimize revenue.
From fertility services to knowledgeable care for new mothers and their children, digital health startups and investors are focusing on innovation in these commonly underdeveloped areas of wellness.
Why does this matter? Educated and empowered women make a difference in the future of health care. For example, healthy pregnancies often lead to healthier mothers and children. And mothers who have support with breastfeeding or nutrition decrease the likelihood of future complications.
Many digital health care startups are trying to merge the interests of payers, providers and patients so that the best treatment is also the most affordable option. Because of this, health tech companies are uniquely situated to help IDNs, hospitals and primary care practices save money while delivering the best value possible.
Medical organizations shouldn’t downplay the role of digital health. These innovators give providers an inroad into a patient’s everyday life. And since most people are digitally active throughout the day, telehealth can help people integrate wellness into their lifestyle.
Welkin, for instance, ties providers directly into patients’ daily care plans. Care team members can video chat with patients to help them assess their health and improve their lifestyle. Plus, with these relationship management tools, Welkin helps care managers oversee the long term trajectory of patient adherence.
Bridging the Gap Between Patients, Providers, and Payers
In summary, the CBInsights report highlights what many digital health startups, including Welkin, are all about—helping patients, providers, and payers align in order to decrease costs and improve care.
By merging new models of care with tech solutions, providers can withstand the disruption happening in health care, patients gain easier access to care, and payers can stabilize their risk pools and conserve revenue.
All of this is tied to the digital health care startups and investors who are challenging the status quo. Step-by-step, Welkin and other innovators like us are making health care a better place for everyone involved.