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For three days each Fall, the Santa Clara Convention Centers is transformed into a healthcare wonderland, complete with 1,000 of your closest friends in health tech. The on-stage sessions, curated and hosted by Indu Subaiya and Matthew Holt of Health 2.0 fame, are always a hit. Their finely tuned sense of how the past informs the future has been cultivated over decades of paying attention, and being in the audience at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference is a crash course in healthcare transformation.
One audience favorite is a session called Fireside Chats: Executive Views (the session formerly known as 3 CEOs). It’s a series of pithy, back-to-back personal interviews between a notable CEO and a prominent journalist. Lively, personal, and slightly unscripted, this year’s lineup featured: Glen Tullman (of Livongo, that IPO’d last month), Jonathan Bush (after a controversial departure from athenahealth last year) and Josh Stevens (of DayTwo, who recently raised a solid sum of $50 million.) Here are the highlights….
Time travels fast, but innovation is faster. Cultural adoption lags in comparison to the pace of innovation. Every day industry media breaks the news of a technology that can alter an image using your mind. Or entire forests that grow on the sides of buildings. Or Elon Musk sending people to vacay on the moon. What seems outlandish one day becomes normal, seemingly in the blink of an eye.
The digital health space is no exception. And with each years’ funding outpacing the last, finances are flowing to sectors that financiers believe have potential. Twenty-seventeen raked in $5.7 billion, and 2018 boasted $8.1 billion. We’re only half way through 2019 and have already hit $4.2 billion – a pace that analysts predict will become another record-breaking year. This funding is an indication of both demand and market disruption potential.
With all this attention, it can be a challenge to sort out the signal from the noise. What has traction? What will stick? What will grow, and what will fade away? We’ve identified three key areas within the digital health space that deserve your attention right now: Digital Therapeutics, Voicetech, and consolidation of the market.
Digital Therapeutics, known as DTx, are the evidence based therapeutic interventions, driven by software, to prevent, manage, or treat medical conditions. Not to be confused as a competitor to the pharma industry. Rather, viable DTx solutions tend to work in collaboration with it instead. DTx is an appealing less-invasive and cost efficient solution for everyone, which means that the ripple effect of adaptation and adoption is happening fast. The question on many minds is how healthcare systems can be reimbursed for this new approach. Luckily the “FDA is starting to recognize DTx and its medical outcomes. DTx companies are exploring business models based on payer reimbursement.” says Bayer G4A’s Dr. Javier Palacios. He goes on to comment that “a good example of analogic pathways existing currently for APIs can be found in 505(b)(2), currently used for indication expansion, companion therapies or Rx to OTC switch, allowing companies to have an expedited approval process and potentially qualify for 3, 5 or 7 years market exclusivity.” All signs point to a future in which DTx will rely on continued partnerships across disparate sectors to knit the ecosystem into tighter harmony. The DTx market is expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2025.
Hollywood was perhaps the first industry to bring Voicetech into American living rooms. Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Joahnnsons voice, grossed $47.4 million globally back in 2013 and put Voicetech on the map just after Siri hit the market (2011) and before Amazon’s Alexa (2014). Today, Thirty-five million Americans use a voice assistant at least once a month. But in healthcare, the technology is serving a good far greater than simply setting a timer. Voicetech supports patients with adherence to care plans via reminders, facilitates efficient communication between patients and providers through scheduling and symptom management, and even tracks disease progression. Parkinson’s patients are especially benefiting from Voicetech technology with a little help from companies like Beyond Verbal or Healthymize. They work in the background to track specific biomarkers for voice pitch, rate, and speed which gives providers critical information as to how the patient is faring in everyday life. Having inundated just about every market - automotive, retail, healthcare, and more - experts predict that the voice tech sector will triple in value in 2019 over previous years.
Consolidation… the natural byproduct of a burgeoning market. The industry is teeming with startups, all of who promise silver bullets for healthcare’s greatest pain points. And many of them really do have it. On the other end of the spectrum lie resource-rich companies too large to move with the dexterity startups possess. It’s a match made in heaven as large entities absorb external innovation. In an entrepreneur’s world, it pays to have a few years under your belt. Mature startups like Flatiron, PillPack, and Tueo Health were gobbled up by Roche, Amazon, and Apple, respectively. Twenty-nineteen has already closed over 180 deals. So what happens next? In the presence of consolidation, there emerges a new road for innovation. There are fears that consolidation will lead to monopoly-type behaviors, especially within the public health realm where a local, on-the-ground approach reigns supreme. Only time will show how the market will steady itself, but in the meantime, analysts predict 2019 to be another record-breaking year for investment and M&A activity.
It goes without saying that all of the above would not be made possible without unprecedented amounts of data and machine learning tools to know what to do with it all. And in case you’re wondering what kind of trends list would exclude Artificial Intelligence, don’t worry, it’s here. Artificial Intelligence plays an important role, often integrated into Digital Therapeutic and Voicetech solutions for a futuristic bend.
And as we look to the future, Bayer’s G4A program is here to identify and support young companies evolve into the kind of powerhouse change-makers the ecosystem requires. The 2019 startup class and partnerships will be announced soon… stay tuned!
In all the ways in which digital health elevates care delivery and the patient experience there is one area that seems to universally unite the cause: Oncology. Cancer affects 100% of Western populations, either directly or through a friend or family member. The near-ubiquitous nature of the disease has led to $4.6 billion in funding from the American Cancer Association alone. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed followed by Lung and Colon. The chances of getting cancer hovers around 39% for men and 37% for women, and yet, the disease remains a mystery. While curing cancer is the dream, many of us would settle for learning how to manage cancer the way one might manage a chronic disease, like diabetes. We are getting closer - but the journey is not without obstacles.
Each promising breakthrough also comes with unintended, sometimes unanticipated, side effects. Science and medical advancements have come a long way, but despite the most ardent efforts, chemotherapy is still known to obliterate the immune system, and surgery of any type has inherent risk. Androgen Deprivation Therapy, for instance, while being one of the most effective ways to treat Prostate Cancer, also causes cognitive impairment. Sometimes. And only in some patients. And medical experts don’t yet know enough about it and the aggravating factors to isolate for a course of treatment. And so, cognitive impairment, fatigue, and hair loss are all risks the patient accepts in favor of [hopefully] surviving cancer. Suddenly Oncologists are faced with treating multiple ailments in addition to the original diagnosis, all while monitoring how this collage of sickness impacts each other and the patient, all in real time. It’s like playing an unrelenting game of side effect whack-a-mole.
If only there were means to target only the cancerous cells, while leaving healthy cells intact. Precision medicine is the latest and greatest therapy, providing relief to old-school therapy protocols. Precision medicine’s hyper-targeted approach uses genetic profiling and biomarker analysis to provide the right treatment to the right person at precisely the right moment in time. Many are hopeful that it will be the silver bullet, able to treat more cancers for more patients in the very near future. In the meantime, folks like SEngine Precision Medicine are piggy-backing on precision medicine to accelerate drug development via the same methodology, while other digital health advancements are setting up shop in people's homes.
To manage symptoms and side effects, consumers have begun tracking their symptoms at home. The technology to do so is increasingly robust as the lines between consumer-grade and clinical-grade are blurring. Home is the preferred environment over the clinical, because as we all know, hospital visits beget more hospital visits. Likewise, a hospital visit is only a sliver of time that is not at all representative of how a patient is doing overall. Furthermore, when 20% of the oncology population lives in rural areas without direct access to clinical care, there is really no other option than to meet patients where they (geographically) are. Communication is made possible via telehealth capabilities. Mobile, wearable, and remote data sensors are not only cheaper than a hospital visit, but they are highly accurate, making the “hospital at home” model as viable as ever. Proteus’ ingestible sensor, for instance, is a huge leap forward in this area. It not only exists in the home, but in the patient's body in the home, generating real time data for doctors to react to, learning about medication efficacy and side effects within the patient's body. Their 2017 FDA approval made Proteus the first ingestible sensor to be paired with distributed therapy, paving the way for a new frontier in cancer management.
Cancer treatment generates an unprecedented amount of data. And every branch of the healthcare ecosystem is helping to ship it, store it, digest it, make meaning of it, utilize it, and more. This is a huge commitment across the entire ecosystem of care. Information is power. We need more money, more research, and more data. Because the more we know, the better chance we have at making cancer an affliction of the past.
Each year, in the forests of Jyväskylä, Finland, startups, innovators and entrepreneurs take the nerve racking, high-stakes “pitch” to the next level
And with technology, the pace is exponential. Case in point, we recently published a piece on The Cohabitation of Digital Therapeutics and Pharma in the House of Digital Health. In the short time since, the Digital Therapeutic (DTx) space has continued to grow with new companies forming, existing companies expanding into new indications, or solutions advancing in their development stage. It seemed like an enigmatic discipline.
Developing nations are, for the first time, being impacted by the kinds of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) historically associated with wealthy countries, which now require interventions in similar measure. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, lung and cardiovascular disease are on the rise - 72% of all global deaths in 2016 were attributed to NCDs - and are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors such as poor diet, smoking, and toxic air quality.
Bayer’s G4A Ventures creates new businesses in Digital Health, unlocking new revenue streams and boosting existing ones by improving the lives of patients and consumers. Our foundation is understanding desires and behaviors in the context of situations. We focus on this through every step, from the challenge question through minimum viable product testing and into commercialization. G4A Ventures normally takes a solution to market.
Our five senses are how we understand the world around us. The ability to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear provide information that streams into our consciousness 100% of the time. The smell of trees after the rain, the sound of a live jazz riff on upright bass, the sight of your grandchild taking their first steps … these are the joys of life. Unfortunately for people experiencing Macular Degeneration, the slow dissolve of central sight is marked by blurry vision, and is particularly common with old age.
Check out the May 17 Webinar - pics, recording and click here for transcript!