What You Need to Know
- Firms may focus less on selling to employers and more on selling to consumers.
- Efforts to monitor vital signs remotely could expand.
- Digital health connector services are starting to get attention.
We’re at a strange crossroads. On one hand, it feels as if the world stopped calculating the passage of time starting in March 2020. On the other hand, in the health care industry, it feels as if we’ve sped ahead by two decades, with the normally slow pace of innovation breaking all kinds of records and expectations.
The sink-or-swim mentality brought on by the COVID pandemic accelerated innovation in every aspect of health care. Now, as the dust settles, many stakeholders are realizing that their reasons for resisting disruptive technology were unfounded, and they’re looking for ways to maximize the opportunities that COVID has opened up.
Funding for digital health is blowing up, and the sky’s the limit for a health care world suddenly, and solidly, committed to tech innovations.
Here’s what we can expect to see more of in the upcoming year.
1. The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Health Care
Once relegated to niche silos, direct-to-consumer technology, or concierge approach, has come roaring up the backstretch this year as the employer market becomes increasingly saturated. The high user-quality of tech offerings like GoodRx, Hims & Hers, Ro, and Curology have contributed to their success.
These companies can’t afford to skimp on the user experience — because users pay out of pocket, there is a higher barrier to adoption. On the other hand, the lack of a guaranteed customer base as well as less access to consumer data with the new ability to opt out of in-app data sharing on the latest Apple iOS means that these companies are punching up when it comes to user acquisition.
2. Mental Health Is Top of Mind
The stigma around mental health issues has been slowly lifting over the past decade, but as with many things, COVID accelerated exposure to the problem and lent urgency to finding solutions, and with high-profile celebrities like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles sharing their stories about mental health struggles, the market has never been more ripe for solutions.
But while the marketplace has been flooded with text-based therapy apps and other meditation and mindfulness tools meant to support better mental health, questions around efficacy and outcomes plague their progress.
We can expect to see continued demand for solutions, but innovators are going to have to figure out problems of scale and make a case for the suitability of digital mediums for dealing with issues such as trauma.
3. Beyond Telemedicine
In the first frantic months of the pandemic, health systems rushed to offer “telemedicine” to their patients — in many cases, this simply meant a patient had the option to see a provider over video.
Although in-person visits have returned, many patients have gotten used to the convenience of virtual care and expect to have it as an option, but worries about the quality of care and limitations on what kind of care can be delivered through video (hint: it’s not much) have driven the use of remote patient monitoring (or RPM) as a supplementary tool.