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Recently there has been a lot of media attention around the newest class of startups picked to participate in the New York Digital Health Accelerator’s (NYDHA) second class (announced July 22 2014). Before unraveling this, let’s first set the scene. 1) Digital Health is off to a record breaking start in 2014 with VC investment pouring in at a breakneck pace – $2.3B through June 30th – and 2) additionally, there has been a proliferation of Digital Health specific accelerator and incubator programs over the past few years – the stars being Rock Health and Blueprint Health (see expanded list of accelerators @ VentureScanner). It is safe to say there are A LOT of eyes on Digital Health and the ground for health tech entrepreneurs is the more fertile than ever. Resources are abundant.
This week I came across a very thought-provoking report recently released by the Vitality Institute that provides recommendations on the promotion of health and prevention of chronic disease for working-age Americans. There is a lot of insightful detail (I highly recommend having an extended peek), but in sum, the Commission developed evidence empirically linking the health of the US’ workforce to the long-term competitiveness of the US economy – the proposition: unhealthy workforce = unhealthy economy. Said another way, lower worker productivity and soaring US healthcare costs ($2.7T or 17.7% of US GDP in 2011 – the below graphic provides perspective on magnitude) impede innovation and reduce overall investment in education and R&D.
With the changing legislative and regulatory landscape in the US over the past many years, there has been a lot of talk around the emergence of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs - defined below) and the greater role they will play in the future. Hopes are high that these organizations can help to right some of the compounded wrongs in the industry. First things first, I think it is useful for us all to gain some greater clarity behind what an ACO is – a term that is still relatively new to most of us, having first been coined in 2006.
It’s no surprise - advances in health care and medical technology are extending life expectancies worldwide. Humans are simply living longer, and although this is generally good news for human kind, it increases macro pressure on health care systems and social programs. In challenge lies opportunity – enter digital health - but we’ll table that for now.
I currently am tracking 509 Digital Health companies across 21 categories, with combined funding of $7.05B. Digital Health is an extensive and evolving term, but simply stated, it is the application of digital technologies to enhance both personal health and the delivery of healthcare. These companies all focus on using emerging technologies to deploy solutions across the entire health ecosystem - from individual consumer to healthcare provider to employer to large hospital system, from biometric sensors to genomics to mobile connectivity to cloud computing.