People are more curious than ever about their own bodies.
Five years back, this fact changed Healthcare like no other single phenomenon. This presented techs with an opportunity to develop and place data not in doctor’s, but in people’s hands. This also presented doctors & companies an opportunity to assess their patients outside of diagnostic centers.
Fast forward five years, here we are in 2016 with smart technologies like contact lenses for diabetes monitoring, smart tattoos, & telemedicine. The battle between people & machine is paused, it is people with machines, working together, managing data & making bridges between different players.
As a Startup Scout for Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin, it is my joy & job to interact with awesome early stage startups & understand their unique ideas. There is speed, innovation & determination in these companies to revolutionize healthcare, tackling core issues like lack of interoperability or building predictive models in patient journey.
Here are some of the prominent trends in 2016 that are keeping everyone on their toes.
1.Digital Apparel and Sensors
These are not exactly new, but they are here to stay. Some of the outcomes of the 2016 Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement made in the US revealed that the use of health-related wearable technology has more than doubled from 9% in 2014 to 21% in 2016. But it is not only the number of consumers that has gone up: people’s perceptions regarding the benefits of using wearable technology have also grown increasingly positive with a more than 77% increase with consumers and 85% with doctors. These numbers not only reflect the market fit of those devices but also the need to develop and research more wearable technology such as electronic tattoos and nanotechnology sensors.
The functions of these wearables mainly consist of gathering data from the users or patients, storing that data in the cloud, and providing analysis that enables the user to improve their routine and better monitor their health status.
2. AI & Decision Making
Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Health field has begun to augment the decision-making process, not just of doctors, but in most cases of patients as well. Patients are now accessing real-time information on their bodies, letting them keep track of the quality of treatments. The use of computer-based algorithms also allows for a learning process in data gathering. This has been the main focus of some startups in their endeavor to help doctors treat illnesses and create new processes for diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Since 2015 IBM Watson has become more involved in Health Care and has been encouraging startups through global tournaments to try their API´s and apply them to disruptive Digital Health solutions.
3. Biotech & Cloud Computing
More and more pharmaceuticals and biotech startups are embracing cloud computing as an answer for improving their products. The time saved using cloud services such as Amazon Web Services has allowed them to grow faster and reach new levels of scalability. Although data security is a major issue right now, there is a great deal of potential for data trust companies, who will be playing a key role in this industry by securing customer data and building this digital trust.
4. Virtual and Augmented Reality
VR is the next big thing in inter-disciplinary medical training. Learning through augmented reality—being able to check bones, analyze organs, and even envision a patient with real 3D imaging—will revolutionize the way healthcare professionals are trained.
But this technology is not limited to just training and education, as it can also be used in the actual treatment of patients. Both VR and AR are at the moment implemented for surgery simulation, patient rehabilitation, and phobia treatment. Whether or not these new methods are better than the old is still debated but the desire to be pioneers in this field is now a key drive for innovation centers such as the Manchester Interactive Digital Center.
There are many more technologies already making waves, such as 3D bioprinting and genome sequencing. Nevertheless, their uses are still being determined and the resulting innovations are not always well integrated with the current market.
One can say that we are moving from reactive to proactive technologies in Healthcare. And I am excited to know what the future has in store.
Are you working in the field of Digital Health? We are currently looking for high-potential startups to accelerate in 2016. To learn more, click here.