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11 Sep. 2017 | Comments (0)

An essay by Rob Coppedge, CEO of Echo Health Ventures, recently appeared in CNBC with a provocative premise: "digital health is dead." Coppedge writes: "When the ungrounded aspirations of well-meaning digital health entrepreneurs and venture capitalists collided, it created an explosive environment where considerable capital was burned without building truly sustainable businesses. Many of these have quietly failed and others are—or soon will be—seeking strategic alternatives."

I think this article is well worth a read (and a deep think). Here's my take:

Success in digital health is all about implementation Back in 2015, I argued that we had entered the "Age of Implementation" in digital health, a challenging period defined by a focus on answering this question: How do we use digital health solutions to improve health outcomes, reduce costs, create better patient experiences and boost clinician satisfaction? Many of the leaders at top health organizations I engage with regularly are hyper-focused on this question. We're seeing many implementation successes, but many are not aware of them (which is why I built this). And, research reveals that many organizations are still not using digital innovations optimally.

You have to have a global perspective People utilizing digital health technologies in places like India, Africa, Europe, the Middle East are not only receiving investment, but having an impact on health systems (and making money). To really assess whether digital health is dead, you have to also look at it from a non-U.S. perspective. For example, here are a few headlines (from the past few days) focusing on digital health happenings in the Asia-Pacific region that you may have missed:

  • Asia's Coming Genomics Revolution—From China to Japan and Singapore, Asian countries are investing in the genomics revolution. (Why is this happening?)
  • Chinese Megafirm Tencent Pouring Millions into American Digital Health Startups—Christina Farr from CNBC reports that Chinese internet giant Tencent has been investing tens of millions into American health tech start-ups. (What does Tencent know that others don't?)

It's been apparent for some time that the digital health hype would soon yield to reality. Within this context, Rob's assessment and conclusions are not surprising.

Yes, we should certainty look at investment activity (and returns), but also health outcomes, real-world impacts, and other metrics. There's a reason that some investors and companies are looking 10 years out to measure digital technology's true financial, economic, investment, and outcomes impact on global health.

  • About the Author: Fard Johnmar

    Fard Johnmar

    Fard Johnmar is a Senior Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research and Founder and President of Enspektos, a globally respected digital health innovation consultancy. He is a nearly 20-yea…

    Full Bio | More from Fard Johnmar


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