The amount of investment in start ups focussing on Digital Health has kept growing in the last years and, interestingly, we are seeing recurring investment on the same companies indicating that it is no longer a widespread distribution “just in case”, rather a continuous investment on few companies that show concrete promises of succeeding.
2019 is seen as the year when the focus will shift towards personalised medicine (at least in a few developed Countries) meaning that more and more personal data will be taken into account along the whole healthcare value chain.
I have been talking with a person involved in the health care support in Italy (software provider) and she told me that both data and technology are available to initiate the shift towards personalised health care. The real issues are in the shift of cash flow that the transformation will induce. This means that several of today’s players will see a decrease in revenues and this is a very strong motivation to oppose the change.
Clearly the healthcare processes, and the related money flow, are different in different Countries but they all have in common that change also leads to a shift in the flow of money and revenue distribution.
This, of course, is nothing special applying just to healthcare. The Digital Transformation has two main economic implication in all sectors:
- some activities that are part of today’s processes will disappear as operation moves to the cyberspace. The related revenues will disappear as well and prices paid by the end customer are bound to decrease (the speed of decrease depends on the effectiveness of the market). Clearly, as those activities disappear the people that are carrying them out today will have to find a different job (and some companies may also disappear as well).
- other activities will be carried out in the cyberspace requiring different skills and possibly involving different companies, thus shifting values and revenues to different players. New companies will be created, some existing company will expand its footprint, others will shrink and even disappear.
This economic impact, and the impact on jobs, the need for new skills and overall the re-engineering of the value chains and operation is what is really slowing down the Digital Transformation. In the end, however, it will happen, simply because it creates a more efficient market (which also means better value to the end customer).
Digital Health is coming, slowly but surely. In Europe Apple has not got the permission to activate the ECG on its watch, it is still pending and possibly subject to pressures from those players that today have a stake in performing ECG. They are voicing their concerns of low precision, risk of generating undue anxiety and so on. Actually, a continuous ECG monitoring, although less accurate if seen as an instantaneous snapshot to be compared by one executed by a professional with professional grade equipment, in the long term becomes more and more accurate and able to raise red flags. This is the power of big data: multiple data streams observed over long period of times overcome inaccuracy and can derive meaningful information that are simply not possible with a single (even if very accurate) measure.
This is also shifting the business model from selling a product (like an ECG performed in a health care lab) to selling a service (like continuous analyses of data). This shift from product to services applies to most Digital Transformation and it si going to be a revolution in business.