Market Insight

Build it, but they might not come

June 28, 2016

Roeen Roashan Roeen Roashan Senior Analyst, Healthcare Technology
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Last week, the Digital Health World Congress held in London, England, hosted a series of talks and discussions around the ever-evolving world of digital health. The emphasis was on topics related to data in healthcare, artificial intelligence and genomics – three topics IHS identifies as the fundamental pillars of personalization in healthcare.

Artificial intelligence can be applied in many ways. In digital health, an increasing number of consumer-facing applications are emerging, that are targeting triage. These applications hope to eliminate the burden of minor ailments to the healthcare sector. Your.MD and Babylon Health were both present at the conference and showcased their solutions – both can be described as digital personal health assistants, and both intend on decreasing unnecessary hospital visits with their respective applications.

In terms of genomics, access is increasing for both primary care and specialty care practices. UK-based GeneAdviser operates an online platform for doctors and laboratories, as a market place for medical-grade and highly specialized genetic testing. There are more than 20 specialized test categories available on the site. GeneAdviser’s CEO, Dr. Jelena Aleksic argued the importance of genetic testing in digital health and precision medicine. Genetic testing will allow a precise prescription of drugs to patients that need immediate attention. Also, there are more than 350 million people, worldwide, with rare diseases. Genomics can speed up diagnosis for these patients. Using conventional methods, it can take upwards of six years to diagnose a rare disease. However, Orange Healthcare’s Isabelle Hilali argued in her presentation on personalized healthcare, that a truly meaningful application of genetic testing requires the addition of environmental and nutritional aspects of the patient, which is an important consideration, but often ignored.

Another common theme of the Digital Health World Congress 2016 was around behavioral modification. In essence, behavioral modification revolves around engagement. A panel with representatives from Accenture, Babylon Health, Goldman Sachs, IBM and Johnson & Johnson addressed the lack of adherence and engagement in healthcare, which is an area of improvement for digital health. While many of the innovations in healthcare serve a great purpose in intent, most do not change behaviors of users in the long-term. The famous Field of Dreams quote - if you built it, he will come – does not necessarily apply in healthcare, since innovators cannot simply build for consumers or patients, but also must consider providers and payers. Developing a solution for all three entities and maintaining a meaningful application is highly challenging, also why Lars Kaufhaus of Roche Diabetic Care argued for the elimination of reimbursement in his presentation on restructuring healthcare delivery. As Lars explained, reimbursement is a transfer of risk to payers, and does not serve any purpose in actual care for patients. Reimbursement has to disappear in order to bring simplicity in healthcare, which is in line with the shift towards value-based care being implemented in the majority of advanced healthcare sectors.   

The right conversations are being had to progress digital health. In healthcare, an appropriate infrastructure to build for is necessary. Once in place, innovation can be developed meaningfully, and people will come.

For questions or inquiries, please contact Roeen Roashan,

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Healthcare Technology
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