I had the good fortune to see short pitches from about 30 innovators with new products and services at the Connected Health Symposium. What follows is an attempt to synthesise the key trends in new Connected Health solutions.
In order to succeed, a new offering will need to have clearly articulated points of uniqueness and innovation that create value. I saw many WiFi/Bluetooth enabled products, electronic patient records, cloud-based video and mobile apps. In the absence of clear differentiators, this space is in danger of being commoditised.
However, I did see some standout products that point to certain trends. Nuance is using its natural speech recognition prowess to develop a new take on eHR. It “listens” to the clinician and populates relevant fields. What is more, it is being positioned as an eHR that empowers the patient, too, through capturing what this key stakeholder has to say about their condition. The Healthrageous service also develops this theme of patient engagement through a holistic healthcare management service. Their app allows users to personalise their own healthcare management and set their own goals around things like diet, weight loss and exercise.
Several companies are trying to create a platform environment similar to Facebook or iOS, often cloud based, onto which third parties can develop and base services and apps. Examples include Grand Care Systems (had a great phrase about moving from the quantified self to the influenced self) and Independa. Another trend was the use of robotic systems to accompany patients, such as Vgo’s €6k telepresence robot and avatars. I was especially struck by Timothy Bickmore’s talk about an avatar that deals with patient hospital release. What was remarkable was that users overwhelmingly preferred dealing with the avatar over a healthcare professional. One likely reason is that they could spend a lot longer with the avatar and have more confidence they understood their meds and other needs fully. Aligned with this, there were whole sessions devoted to psychology and game mechanics in the design of apps and patient/consumer interfaces aimed at driving and sustaining positive health-related behavioural change.
On the whole, these innovators were sanguine about their prospects and very positive about the future of healthcare. They all had concerns about funding, finding appropriate talent for their companies (especially programmers), securing intellectual property and navigating the evolving regulatory environment. However, they all had exciting offerings and data about their utility. I look forward to seeing how they turn out….