For a long time now, digital health has been hyped as a saviour for healthcare. However, it is not that simple and no saviour exists to untangle us from our current mess of a system. Despite the immense enthusiasm around the new technologies disrupting healthcare, we’re also now seeing some public failures, like the recent acquisition/fire sale of Practice Fusion, or the Castlight Health initial public offering hype and valuation assumptions compared to the market reality of today. Similar to EHRs, digital health now must prove its worth if it plans to stay in the market in the long run.
Healthcare technology has finally moved past the EHR era and they are now ubiquitous in healthcare organizations. Also, the increased spend on healthcare budget is now being scrutinized, and digital health must demonstrate solid proof of efficacy to overcome that scrutiny and succeed. Now, more than ever, digital health products need associated proof to overcome buyer and customer skepticism, the proofs being lowering costs, improving care (especially in at-risk settings), and improving the care experience.
Venture capitals invest in scalable technologies, but healthcare is siloed and localized. Building and scaling new technology products to meet venture capital demands falls out of alignment with selling and implementing demands of digital health within the enterprise. The localized nature of healthcare exacerbates the problem. Even for some larger systems that still buy technology at local or regional levels, one must wonder if most digital health technologies aren’t meant to be venture scale.
However digital health will still have a significant impact on healthcare, albeit the timing is suspicious. And it sure has to prove its worth to get into the hands of patients and providers.