December 14, 2018

Best of Digital Health 2018

Commentary
Maeve Lyons

2018 has been an eventful year in the health tech world - we saw new partnerships and relationships develop, we saw public bodies make their moves in keeping with the evolving digital health landscape, we saw some big fat acquisitions, mergers and entrants, and some not-so-newsworthy failures. As the year draws to a close, we are coming to terms with a number of things: tech companies will make their way into healthcare delivery, CMS will play a vital role in gluing new health plans and traditional players, AI will start showing its impact beyond being cool, patient or human centricity is the most important feature we are seeking, everybody is talking about digital therapeutics. As a community of Pharma, Tech, VC, Provider and Payer groups, we saw them all become more cognizant of the importance of technology in their roles, for the organizations, and for healthcare more broadly.

The best of digital health 2018 drew factors from trending topics, community interest and positive feedback where the content provided insights that benefited our readers in their relevant fields.

4. An Insider’s Guide for Navigating the European Digital Health Investment Landscape

This blog and report was a collaborative effort between HealthXL, Imperial College Health Partners and the EIT Health Investor Network. It was an opportunity to shed a light on digital health investment activity in Europe and how it compares to that of the US that tends to be more in the news for all the moolah it spends on healthcare.

The report looks at the most notable investments and partnerships in Europe and what can we learn from them. It also outlines what elements of policy and regulation in Europe support and impede scaling of new and novel healthcare approaches. Studying the investments of five key investor groups in Europe, we surmised that 70% of healthcare deals included at least one European investor, biopharma and device series A investments saw record levels with the influx of European investment in new technologies, the UK reaffirmed its venture leadership position, nearly tripling the value and volume of deals compared to the second largest country driving investments, Germany.

The UK and Germany have been home to some of the most significant European digital health movements, setting solid groundwork for those to follow and helping to make the environment increasingly more appealing for global investors and innovators. Is this a case of slow and steady wins the race?

What did we learn from this? Strict data regulation, universal health coverage and a strong enterprise and start-up ecosystem have positioned European healthcare for success.

3. How Pharma Should Use Digital Health To Improve Clinical Trials

Leveraging digital tools can help to overcome challenges associated with traditional clinical trials and greatly enhance research. In this blog, we looked at the opportunity for digital health to help diversify patient populations, to prevent drop-offs and to reduce costs in clinical trials. Using Science37 as an example, we saw how technology can help to overcome physician bias for patient selection and physical barriers to access -  the main reasons why there is so little diversity represented in standard clinical trials. We also explored how continuous remote patient monitoring generates significantly larger volumes of data than in standard trials, increasing the number of data points generated from each patient, and in turn reducing the cost and time taken to conduct the trial. Taking all of our learnings into account, we defined what a robust digitally enables clinical trial looks like: a considered, patient-centric approach, leveraging appropriate digital health tools, and generating actionable, insightful data.

 

What did we learn from this? Although digitized clinical trials are nice to have, and have a plausibly lucid value prop, they are not the norm yet. We hope to see more large scale, site-less, digitally enabled RCTs take off and collect meaningful data.

2. HealthXL Digital Therapeutics Report

There’s no doubt that Digital Therapeutics was the buzzword of 2018. The term came into existence under the premise that mobile software can be effective medical treatments. Investments and changes to regulation have taken place over a relatively short period of time allowing a surge of DTx companies to get their solutions to market. Has a new category of medicines arrived? Have you suddenly seen a surge in re-branding of digital health solutions as digital therapeutics? We certainly have. It takes 17 years and $2.5 billion to develop a market ready drug with no guarantee that it will work. It is no wonder DTx has entered healthcare like the knight in shining armor. Easier to collect data, iterate and refine treatment and evidence efficacy, allowing treatments to change with the needs of the population.

In our report released in December, we addressed key areas to equip our community with the knowledge on the entire DTx space - investment, strategic partnerships, emerging business models, evidence generation, prescription, regulation, reimbursement and end user feedback.

The blog is a teaser for the report which can be purchased online now.


What did we learn from this? We will continue the DTx conversation next year, more robust regulatory moves will be made by the FDA and other bodies, there will be dissemination of information about DTx to physicians and patients, there will be a push for payers to offer these solutions in their portfolio.

1. A Beginners Guide to the Anatomy of Blockchain In Healthcare

The question has been asked time and time again - will blockchain fix healthcare? Digital has afforded new challenges and opportunities in healthcare given existing concerns being the interoperability of medical records and data.  

Gathering of patient data has raised important questions about access, shareability and ownership of the health related information. While there is no right answer or strategy in place to address the above points there is a multitude of companies exploring the space and we’ve highlighted them in our blog.

The success of this blog comes as no surprise as it’s representative of an industry that is still figuring out the best practices to apply to the fragile topic which is our privacy and our health. We wanted to correct any misconceptions about what blockchain provides,where your data goes, it’s reliability and tried to demystify it because it is not yet so well understood, it has not yet proven to be the panacea for our health data woes.

Making inroads on blockchain now with smaller projects that do not involve patient data can help prepare healthcare organizations for larger blockchain tasks while adding value in the short time by cutting costs and streamlining data. Blockchain could help solve some of the industry’s most pressing compliance, interoperability, and data security issues, as well as enable new patient-centric business models. But unlocking blockchain’s potential for healthcare will be a slow process, and change is unlikely to come fast.

What did we learn from this? Blockchain is going to remain cool terminology for people to talk about on social media, but as healthcare people, we are only still exploring the possibilities.

It has been an exciting year to be at the forefront of educating, exchanging and collaborating in digital health. We will embrace 2019 equipped with data, the right DNA, and the best community.