The Touch Points of Change…
#1. Explosive new technology
Think about the smart phone and how far its come in just a few short years. Today, technology is the new intellectual playground that connects vision with application. The “computer” is yesterday’s news and now the advancement of innovation across a wide variety of areas (gaming, manufacturing, communications, etc.) is being applied to health with striking speed and expertise. And the players are both big, well-funded companies as well as smart, adroit and nimble start ups.
#2. The pressing need to advance healthcare and the Affordable Care Act
There’s almost no scientific, political or sociological discussion that doesn’t find its way to health and healthcare. The costs, access and resources are a key driver to seeking solutions to the health dilemma that exists right now and is projected to only get worse. Technology has always been part of the answer in other areas. Today, innovation and technology are poised to advance care in new directions that can drive new efficiencies and lead a course to self-care and wellness.
#3. The caldron of connectivity
Ideas are promiscuous. The profound interconnectedness of thinkers and ideas create a “neural-network” that powers our imaginations. And while exclusivity and the reality of business may obstruct this free-form engagement, the cross-pollination still flourishes. Unlike other social and technological movement of the past, our path and mechanism of innovation is driven by a new nature of collaboration, still driven by a competitive spark!
Another important driver to the digital health revolution is the increasing level of patient / caregiver connectivity. The role of tele-medicine will foster new connections for care and become an essential proving ground for new “tricorder-type” technology that makes the interaction more clinically robust.
#4. The power of cool
Change is a funny thing. And for many people, that advancement of technology often diffuses slowly into a system. The advantage of the digital health movement is that carries “the stamp of cool” and takes clinical / social utility to a place beyond the practical–the emotional. It’s not about taking a pill, but living the life of innovation that is validated by science and medicine.
#5. The empowerment of the “quantified self” in health
Our lives are quantified in many ways. From banking to shopping habits, we exist as a complex set of numbers and actions. Ask American Express or Amazon. Their ability to quantify our lives provides a powerful engine of commerce and engagement. The same will come to be with our health and wellness. Today, tools to measure key clinical parameters (serum glucose, blood oxygen, etc.) will combine with mainstream devices used by joggers and athletes. The result will become “full circle” data that will proactively inform us of issues and concerns.
It’s really nothing new at all. Think about your check engine light or tire pressure indicator in your car. Simple diagnostic tools that allow you to get ahead of an automotive problem. The same will apply to health as sensors and devices track, analyses and alert us to our own physiology. From tracking your body temperature to monitoring the effectiveness of an antibiotic to proactively tracking blood pressure, you will know more about yourself than ever before. And all this data and knowledge will become less of burden and more of reassurance that all systems are go!
#6. Pharma’s search for new meaning
Unless you’re swallowing a micro-camera that visualizes your colon, the notion of a traditional pill is changing. And the pharmaceutical industry knows it. The evolution of pharmaceutical science will move therapy to include preventative care, gene therapy and other innovations. The pill, as it conventionally exists today, will have a role, but innovation (and digital health) will make conventional therapies a bit harder to swallow.
#7. Big Data and the electronic medical record
New technology and the vast amounts of generated data come a rich source of information. Research protocols, family history, medical records and large-scale epidemiological studies are a significant aspect of digital health. These data may become the single biggest aspect of this new area.
One look at the market potential and another look at the multiple and varied companies entering this area and the conclusion is clear. Money is a key driver to innovation. The increasing role of venture capitol in digital health sends a clarion call of validation that this initiative is here to stay. There’s also a $10 million prize that’s attached to bring the digital health to life. The the Tricorder X Prize and $10 million prize also add to the rewards.
#9. The voices of brilliance
Science, medicine, genenomics, electronics, analytics, etc. The list of contributors to digital health is vast and smart as heck. And the very nature of the mixed and varied voices coming together will result in a “critical mass” of brilliance rarely seen in the conventional business model.