i3 | January 13, 2022

Five Health Tech Dynamics

Susan Schreiner

The pandemic has dramatically altered the way health care is delivered.

Covid-19 created an urgent need for health systems to upgrade their IT infrastructure, accelerate access to care, and shift care delivery models from the hospital to the home, or through major retailers, local pharmacies and urgent care centers. It fast-tracked the necessity to develop more consumer-centric models that bridged the gap between virtual and in-person care for a greater integrated, personalized and seamless care experience.

While challenges and weaknesses were exposed in global health systems — it also underscored the importance of health tech devices and services as a complementary imperative for delivery of health care during demanding times. Here are five takeaways:

1. Implementations of New Technologies

The pandemic exposed how quickly health systems hit their limits, necessitating the acceleration of digitization. The focus was on increasing healthcare’s accessibility and reach, transparency and efficiency while improving the quality of services at lower costs as care expanded from the hospital to alternative care settings. Digital health solutions include innovations in IT and administration, the cloud, machine learning/AI, analytics, blockchain, cybersecurity — to biopharma and genomics to robotics, immersive technologies, 3D printing, medical transportation hardware/portable devices and software-driven medical devices — to point-of-care testing, remote care-monitoring/IoT and lifestyle products. There’s a surge of tracking, wellness and mental health apps as well.

2. Value and Evidenced-Based Care

Data enables shifting the care model from being reactive in a crisis to becoming proactively predictive. This includes improving detection, diagnosis, assessment and treatment options for improved outcomes at lower costs. While a shift towards a more patient-centric model is advancing, barriers remain. The complexity of health care challenges providers, payers, policymakers, technology companies and other stakeholders. They are adopting enhanced solutions like connected electronic health records, interoperable information systems, and enhanced clinical decision support systems — while protecting privacy. Innovations in digital therapeutics (DTx) devices and apps have the potential to change the health delivery landscape and are a safer and less expensive alternative to drugs, in many cases.

3. Collaborations

A collision of circumstances is adding new urgency for more open cross-sectoral and external collaborations. It will take key stakeholders each with their own unique expertise across technology, medicine, science, health, academia, funding, and business to work together to deliver safe solutions for the common good. The necessity for collaborations extends beyond companies since health is heavily reliant on policy and regulation. As technology gets more sophisticated, there need to be policy guardrails to protect fundamental privacy.

4. Equity and Inclusion

As technologies like AI, big data and automation shape healthcare – equity and inclusion need to be included in the new and emerging digital health models. These models need to consider culture, social determinants of health as well as the needs of individual communities and/or regions.

5. Consumer-Centricity and Market Dynamics

Accelerated by telehealth, consumers now expect immediate gratification from the health delivery community. Apps like ZocDoc offer instant answers if one wants to find a doctor. Retailers are assessing opportunities in health since they own a pipeline to consumers. Repurposing their expertise at reaching out to individuals, CVS, Best Buy, Target, Walgreens and Walmart are rolling out new health care solutions such as care in the home, behavioral health, improved nutrition, wellness, and prevention, as well as pharmaceutical populational health.

What will it take for consumers to further engage in their own behavioral and physical health, including wellness and prevention? How will these innovative but fragmented tech solutions integrate into one frictionless journey that will improve people’s lives while maximizing value? Stay tuned. Reach Susan at susan@c4trends.com.

i3 magazine January/February 2022 cover

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