The Digital Health Cloud is Darkening

OCTOBER 13, 2015
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA
There are storm clouds over Silicon Valley and the smart money can see them clearly. Digital health, the dog that the tech tail waves, might not be far behind. Doctors know it. Many patients know it. Even Google Ventures knows it, which may be the most important headline since, when it comes to Sick Care, nobody listens to doctors or patients any more. Bloggers and investors are the new biobrahmans. 

Digital health, the use of information and communications technologies to improve human health, continues to evolve. Adoption and penetration patterns have varied depending on the specific technology or application, but the air seems to be leaking out of the digibubble. Here are some possible reasons:

1. Entrepreneurs are creating products patients don't want to use.

2. The products do not create clinically valid results.

3. The regulatory and reimbursement rules don't provide doctors and other health professionals enough of an incentive to recommend or prescribe them.

4. Conducting clinical trials for digital health is too expensive, time consuming, and foreign to most non-physician entrepreneurs.

5. The tech bubble halo effect casts a dark shadow on digital health.

6. Payers need to see a better ROI.

7. When it comes to migration of fee-for-service to value-based bundled payment, doctors still have one foot on the dock and the other in the boat, stuck in a payment no-man's land

8. The IPO markets are dismal.

9. There are too many easy-to-create startups chasing too little seed stage capital creating too little user-defined value.

10. Too much innovation buzz and without enough meaningful impact.

Unfortunately, like other medtech and biotech interventions, some digital health products and services will help and others will harm patients.  Some will be life-saving and others will be take the life out of savings. We shouldn't have to inflict collateral damage on patients when the bubble pops to find out the difference. 
 



Copyright© MD Magazine 2006-2018 Intellisphere, LLC. All Rights Reserved.