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            29 / 08 / 16

            ​Shelve that Fitbit. Next gen health apps will really revolutionize healthcare

            • Following the sudden popularity of wearable health sensors such as Fitbit, Jawbone and the Apple Watch, we’ve seen a rise in health start-ups with visions that surpass the standard step tracker.

              Health is now one of the fastest growing app categories with digital health companies raising $150 million in July 2016 alone, according to Mobi Health News. Venture funds such as Rock Health have emerged that are dedicated solely to supporting digital health companies offering services such as virtual consultations and telemedicine that allow patients to be more in control of their health than ever before.

              New companies are proposing digital solutions to minimize the escalating costs of health care, expand wellness, combat physician shortages, and prevent and manage expensive chronic conditions. Jan Medical, for example, came up with a non-invasive portable brain sensing system designed to diagnose and monitor abnormal neurological conditions such as concussions and strokes.

              • Graphics introducing Jan Medical's brain sensor

              • Among other major players:

                • Hometeam is a new approach to senior home care which uses technology to efficiently locate, hire and monitor caregivers;
                • Vivify Health is the world’s first remote care platform based upon consumer mobile devices;
                • Flatiron Health is a business and clinical intelligence platform for cancer care providers, using big data and an oncology-specific software platform that connects cancer centers across the world;
                • AiCure developed a software that can reliably track and monitor patients taking their medication and verify that they’ve done so; and
                • WellDoc analyzes diabetes data entered by the patient, compares past data trends to deliver personalized, contextualized guidance and delivers analytics to the healthcare team.

                As Amy Foley from Johnson & Johnson noted during this year’s Digital Health Summit, “Successful digital health technology companies connect patient, data, and payer.” Technology is changing the landscape of healthcare, and digital health is empowering people to better manage and improve their health, while helping reduce costs, increase quality and make medicine more personalized and transparent.

                Large companies such as Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Phillips, and Microsoft, are embracing digital healthcare technology, as they see the growth of digital health beneficial to their businesses. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act under the Obama administration injected $35 billion worth of incentives for health providers to adopt digital health technology. According to PwC, more than 90 new companies related to digital healthcare have been created since the ACA was signed into law, with new companies leveraging technology to increase education, transparency, connect patients with doctors and improve overall communications throughout the healthcare system.

                With shifting expectations, individuals aspire for transparency, simplicity, immediacy and more personalized services across all categories. Waiting long periods of time to access healthcare providers and procedures is not efficient, contributing to the embracing of more effective digital options. Likewise, consumers are increasingly aware of how digital health technologies are making prevention, diagnosis, and treatment more accessible, personal, simple and transparent while reducing costs. Many pharma brands and healthcare providers still appear opaque and rooted in an old understanding of service, triggering a need for them to adapt to the new reality of how consumers are relating to health and healthcare services.

                These technologies will bridge the gap between tech companies and the medical community. From the rise of mobile apps, we’ve learned that people are willing to change their behaviors after discovering effective and more convenient solutions (such as online banking.) With increased interest and investment in digital health startups, we predict a behavioral change in health care from complicated paperwork and time-consuming appointments, to mobile apps, big data and health trackers. Patients have already grown comfortable using digital services for complex and sensitive issues (successful websites such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic are just two examples of this trend), leading us to believe that the future of health and pharma is right at our fingertips.

                Health through the Culture Lens is a weekly series exploring important cultural currents in health and pharma

                • Article by Ana Turco-Rivas