August 14, 2018

Validating Digital Health: A Process for Success

Commentary
Maeve Lyons

Show me the money

Despite billions and billions of dollars of investment, Digital Health is still searching for great examples of how it can improve the patient experience and deliver improved healthcare outcomes.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad news:

It is easy for even the most optimistic observer to conclude that it is all snake oil.

You see it take 17 years in healthcare from when we agree that something is the right thing to do….to widespread adoption.

There are lots of antibodies (i.e. people) who can kill your business. As an innovator you need to get a whole army of different stakeholders on side to stand a chance of survival. Depending on your solution you may need to convince some or all of the following

Show me the evidence

How do you distinguish the signal from the noise in this exponentially expanding environment?

The current gold standard for clinical evidence is peer review which is usually published in a reputable journal.

Digital Health is however a hybrid sector at the intersection of medicine, technology, health economics, policy and the social sciences - so naturally we will need evidence and endorsement from from multiple stakeholders and expert groups.

Anyone who has been through this peer review process will recall the long hours spent and the vast amounts of energy spent jumping through tedious hoops. Is all this effort worth it, and how does this fit with the rapidly expanding digital health solutions making their way onto the market? What others options are there to validate the efficacy of a tech solution that claims to be able to improve medication adherence with the help of telemedicine or improve cancer patients chances of survival and improved quality of life through a digital therapeutic?

Does digital health validation belong in the world of peer reviewed journals?

There is mounting speculation around the need for the peer review process to be reformed. While the system is not flawless it a proven and trusted method and a hallmark of quality.

However for digital health companies the current model is a challenge. Some of the barriers for these solutions looking to gain credibility, are also barriers to the experts looking to contribute to the validation of the most promising digital health solutions, include the following:

Pace: Digital health is championed for introducing agility into an traditionally static healthcare environment, yet the peer review process is notoriously known for lag times introducing a mismatch when it comes to the the digital health solution arena

Feedback Loops: The peer review process is a closed feedback loop that all too often will direct authors in the right direction to improve their paper but beyond that the feedback will likely not direct the authors and researchers in the right direction in terms of long term improvements to their process and work. Beyond this openness and community building around these experts and innovators is key to moving forward towards real impact rather than a transactional process

The Good News

The peer review process must remain a credible source of information when it comes to the communication of clinical efficacy of digital health solutions. But while we push for this existing process to align with the pace and essential long term and open feedback loops, HealthXL are giving the digital health community confidence in the most promising solutions through our HealthXL Verified program.

We have been working with our global healthcare community on this very topic as we try to assess the landscape. So, where do we go from here?

How this works

The HealthXL community is made up of the leading minds in digital health globally who have unique experience and insights. We are now putting them to work to highlight those companies who are really driving the sector forward.In short to help them stand out from the crowd and evolve with the help of the community (see below)

HealthXL collects publication data from trusted medical journals as well case studies put forward by companies to support their claim. We work with innovators to identify suitable advisors who can provide confidential feedback on any non peer reviewed piece of evidence.

Check out the two minute video explaining the process

 

Looking to Engage with the Next Wave of Evidence Based Digital Health?

To date were have seen that 70% of the company views on our platform are HealthXL Verified companies including the top 10 viewed companies all being HealthXL Verified.“As a busy clinician, I don’t really have time to sift through all the various websites to look for applications that are useful. HealthXL have got the right evidence that makes it easy to find the best solutions for our health service.” - Dr. Kwang Lim, Clinical Director of Medicine and Aged Care, Royal Melbourne Hospital
We’re calling on entrepreneurs, clinical adopters and active investors who are interested to get involved in defining and assessing the golden standard for digital health.

If interested, please contact HealthXL’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Chandana Fitzgerald at chandana@healthxl.org to continue the conversation and learn more