Shane Walker, Principal Analyst, Healthcare Technology
At the 5th annual Qualcomm Life Connect conference held in San Diego during August, Rick Valencia (SVP Qualcomm Life) and Jeroen Tas (CEO Connected Care Health Informatics, Philips) delivered keynote presentations concerning a new partnership that seeks to spur forward personalized connected health care from healthy living and prevention to chronic care management and home care—IHS Markit refers to the varied technologies surrounding patient connectivity simply as digital health. The goal in creating the partnership is to leverage each company’s respective capabilities, which includes Philip’s connected health informatics and regulated health care cloud data management and analytics (2net), and Qualcomm Life’s platform for secure, medical-grade device connectivity and integration (HealthSuite). Philips will also enable third party medical devices to connect to HealthSuite.
Potential impact on digital health development
In September 2014, Philips announced plans to focus on two stand-alone companies to capitalize on health technology and lighting opportunities. Since then, Philips Healthcare sales reached $12.2 billion in 2015, a jump of nearly 19% from 2014 which placed the company as the 6th largest medical device company in the world. Concurrently, the company increased R&D expenses in the healthcare sector by 30%, reaching $1.2 billion. While these figures are significant, they represent a relatively small share of the total medical technology opportunity. By opening the HealthSuite platform to third party medical devices via 2net, Philips may be able to expand the importance of HealthSuite faster than it could as a closed platform. To put this in perspective, Philips has 8.1 million devices connected to the HealthSuite Cloud, compared to a market that IHS Markit estimates to be 115 million devices shipped annually. If consumer health products are included the number rises to more 600 million shipments. As these devices become increasingly connected, bringing the data they capture into a manageable platform will rise in importance to deliver personalized medicine. Opening the HealthSuite Cloud platform to third party devices is a smart strategy.
Secure connectivity, data capture and transmission via the 2net Platform is intended to enable HealthSuite users to customize and scale connected care programs, add additional medical devices and gain a more complete patient profile over extended periods of time. The aim is to support timely intervention, assist in diagnosis, personalize treatment plans to improve patient outcomes. This collaboration is intended to enable both companies to offer healthcare providers scalable and connected solutions within a secure global ecosystem. A third significant partner in enabling the security and scalability of the platform is Amazon Web Services.
“As the home is fast becoming a viable care setting, care providers, home health agencies, and other institutions are increasingly using connected care to reduce emergency care, and readmissions of patients with chronic diseases.” Jeroen Tas
IHS Markit forecasts the world market for digital health will reach $16.3 billion during 2016 and exceed $22.5 billion during 2020. This forecast is inclusive of clinical care such as continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps, consumer medical devices, sports monitoring, remote care, and virtual care. Projecting this rate of growth along with the increasing rate of connectivity across these devices, IHS Markit speculates that 6.9 billion people will be connected to their health data and their providers by 2040. The inflection point is estimated to occur between 2025 and 2030. This is not to imply that all of these people will be part of a remote monitoring platform, but that they will have access to a patient portal through a PC or a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. That said, widespread acceptance of connected health platforms is not without its challenges and many consumer oriented medical suppliers are struggling to reach a significant scale of uptake. The concept is new for many and uptake is currently restricted to a small proportion of early adopters. In addition, there is always the question of who will actually pay to fund development. However, initiatives that foster open platforms and interoperability could push the inflection point forward significantly. Partnerships like those from Qualcomm and Philips, as well as the Continua Health Alliance, will aid device manufacturers, providers, and payers in reaching scale and increase the adoption rate for connected health.