This year will likely go down as one of the biggest years ever for digital health-tech as revenue growth and investment activity is predicted to outperform 2020, the second highest investment year on record. Even if the breakneck pace of 2021 slows down, HealthTech continues to be undervalued compared to SaaS / IT and also relative to the broader markets, with both the S&P500 and Shiller P/E Ratios significantly higher. Record capital inflows to the sector for the third consecutive year means the potential is enormous.
In fact, many investors see the post-pandemic era as the beginning of a multi-year opportunity. During the summer of 2021, investors had already pumped nearly $15 billion into digital health tech deals with much of the investment growth fuelled by increasing demands for technology in the industry.
The future could be very impressive indeed especially on solutions that address health care costs, access, prevention, interoperability, health equity, and the drivers of health.
A growing number of health tech companies are turning their attention to wellness, mental health, and even smart-foods. Technology is helping consumers address more health issues from their homes, which could keep them out of the hospital. This trend could drive further consolidation and create highly concentrated health care markets.
The pandemic shined a spotlight on health tech as consumers turned to virtual health and other technologies to help them manage their conditions and stay connected to their doctors and care teams. The health care sector is predicted to catch up very quickly to more consumer-focused industries—such as finance, entertainment, and retail—that have adopted technologies to empower their customers. From appointment logistics to virtual care to the development of at-home testing kits, many niche companies have seen significant upticks in funding as a result of the pandemic. Private equity firms, venture capitalists, and corporate venture capital investors are all highly engaged and interested in virtual health, access, health equity, mental health, and consumer-driven platforms.
Web3 & The Metaverse
For many decades, the delivery of healthcare has required physical interaction between a patient and a doctor as a means of making a diagnosis, receiving medical treatment, or performing surgical procedures for the patient. This changed slightly with the emergence of telehealth services, but we are now on the cusp of an unprecedented advancement through technology that offers previously unimaginable possibilities.
While the Metaverse is still evolving, it undoubtedly offers exciting possibilities by combining technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Internet of Medical Devices, Web 3.0, intelligent cloud, edge and quantum computing along with robotics to provide new possibilities.
Digital Health Trends:
Remote health has experienced a major boom during the Covid-19 health crisis, according to a McKinsey report, telehealth use has increased 38X from the pre-COVID-19 baseline. The report also stated that half the population’s middle and high-income countries are likely to suffer from at least one mental condition during their lifetime. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 42 percent of employees globally have reported a decline in mental health. Symptoms of burnout are increasing among employees and leaders alike.
Prevention and treatment solutions are now forming the core of employee resilience and mental-health programs such as the MindBerry platform which connects employees with a network of qualified therapists and coaches.
AI to improve health and patient expertise
The use of AI or artificial intelligence is not new in the world of healthcare. But the development of this type of technology in healthcare has accelerated significantly in recent years and will continue to do so.
AI and Machine Learning are used in this field as solutions to collect, analyse and exploit data in order to achieve better patient outcomes. The uses can be very diverse, such as triage and orientation of patients, diagnostic assistance through virtual assistants, computer-assisted surgery or in the case of StrongRoom AI, adverse drug events (ADEs).
StrongRoom AI uniquely aggregates drug data across pharmacies, hospitals, and care homes providing unique patient and organisational insights. The business has grown rapidly over the last 12 months and is forecasting to win market share over the next two to three years driving real efficiencies and creating preventative healthcare solutions in these markets. In installed sites StrongRoom is seeing 100 patients a day using their digital platform proving it is highly attractive to customers and site management.
The Internet of Things, allows a variety of medical devices to be connected to the Internet. Thanks to these connected objects, patients can become more and more involved in their health. They can use or wear these devices to check their body temperature, blood pressure or heart rate, and transmit them to a doctor who will be able to remotely monitor the patient’s health status.
This type of device can help patients with chronic diseases better manage their health and contribute to better care. With the data transmitted, healthcare professionals can, for example, give advice to the patient or better prepare for an emergency management.
Improved Big Data & Analytics
The introduction of AI technology in healthcare data analytics could save the industry at least $150 million by 2025. Such an achievement is possible thanks to real-time and long-distance analysis and measurement of patient data. Given such striking cost-effectiveness, the AI trend is about to hit stride in the next couple of years.
For medical providers and researchers, the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on data analytics, along with the immense challenge of decision-making in real time, under rapidly changing conditions. If processed manually, the healthcare providers can get lost in dozens of spreadsheets and meetings. That’s why the digital future inevitably includes technology capable of processing Big Data instead of humans and providing real-time analytics for decision-makers.
Another power of analytics is in making predictions. In this case, the enhancements of predictive analytics and business intelligence enable leveraging data-driven insights of previous patient interactions with healthcare organizations and provide needed changes. It brings good for both sides. Patients get accurate treatment plans and timely services. In turn, healthcare providers enjoy staff optimization and a greater level of control over the supply chain.
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Increased Personal Accountability
The pandemic has done a lot to reinvigorate awareness around health and wellness, with more and more people wanting to adopt a proactive preventative approach to health and having more personal accountability for their own health.
How we feel about our food is also becoming far more important – connections of where the food has come from and the nutrients it provides, along with the overall eating experience means much more now than they did pre-pandemic. We’re seeing a rising shift in positive nutrition – so less fad diets and more emphasis on fibre, micronutrients, gut health and immunity.
The MealPlanner Technologies create FoodHealth solutions to actively engage customers in their health through nutrition. Their technology can be white labelled by corporates, content creators, influencers and bloggers too create bespoke nutrition and well-being apps.
Health data security
Healthcare data is one of the most complicated and crucial to patient care. Advancements such as the metaverse will enable physicians to diagnose and treat through incoming data from many different sources.
E-health is generally well received by patients, but beyond the efficiency and quality of care, confidentiality and security are among the main concerns of patients with regard to digital health solutions, and they are in favour of strengthening the security and confidentiality of this data.
The development of e-health is also increasing the risk of exposure of health data with the increase in remote exchanges and the hosting of patient data in the cloud. To address cybersecurity risks, e-health solutions will not only have to meet regulatory requirements to ensure a high level of protection, but also implement and enforce best practices.