Digital health technology industry will see more acquisitions in both patient-facing and provider-facing ends, increased fitness sensor commoditization, increased medical sensor innovation and greater concern over privacy issues in the year 2014.
Titled “In-Depth: Digital Health Trends in 2014”, the report aggregates the investment data of more than 300 digital health start-ups in 2013 and extrapolates the trends into 2014.
The year 2013 saw nearly $800 million of venture capital investments in patient-facing digital health start-ups, 14% less than 2012’s high of $939 million but almost the same as that of 2011.
Note that these figures are only for patient-facing companies and do not include genomics or provider-facing companies.
The year 2013 also saw a steep drop in the number of iPhone app launches by health insurance companies to 13 from a high of 32 app launches in 2012.
2013 has been the biggest year for acquisitions in digital health.
The report predicts that this trend of mergers and acquisitions will continue in 2014 and the industry will see more consolidation.
Digital Health in 2014
The first month of 2014 already witnessed two acquisitions of provider-facing companies by other provider-facing companies – mVisum’s acquisition by Vocera and PictureRx’s acquisition by BioScape Digital.
There are also rumours of potential acquisition of Audax Health by United Health.
According to MobiHealthNews’ report, 2014 will also see an increasing trend of acquisitions of provider-centric companies and consumer wellness start-ups.
The trend to watch for is the foray of health insurance companies into corporate digital health and wellness platforms.
With the Accountable Care Act pushing the digital health industry from pay-for-service to pay-for-results model, many healthcare companies are increasingly looking to include digital health technologies such as Electronic Health Records into their delivery systems.
This will provide many start-ups the opportunity to integrate themselves into the healthcare system instead of staying outside of it.
The report predicts that healthcare systems will increasingly try to manage the risks to the whole population of patients in addition to reducing costs in providing care to the patients. This will trigger their interest into:
- Lifestyle tracking devices
- Connected biometric devices
- Technologies that generate and analyse the patient data in between the office visits.
Digital health start-ups that provide such services and tools will rise to prominence while those that do not will fade away into irrelevancy, the report predicts.
As seen at the International Consumer Electronics Show this year in Las Vegas, the fitness tracker market will continue to be overcrowded and will see consolidation in 2014.
However, the top story of 2014 will not be the commoditization of the fitness sensors at the lower end or their integration into other devices but the increasing sophistication of medical sensors at the upper end.
The report foresees much innovation in activity tracking sensors at the higher end such as:
- Smartphone connected glucometers
- Noninvasive glucose monitors
- Reimbursable mobile health coaching platforms
- Increased data sophistication by adding additional data points
Rising adoption of health and wellness apps sparked many conversations about privacy and security issues in 2013.
This year such conversations will move to centre stage in the digital health technology narrative.
MobiHealthNews predicts that, in 2014, many health and wellness app developers may choose to avoid the issue of following HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines altogether by removing any sign-in system thus keeping all private information entered by the users anonymous.
With Meaningful Use requirements and pay-per-performance model of the ACA driving the healthcare industry to adopt digital health technologies that improve health outcomes.