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November 08, 2018
DIGITAL HEALTH TAPS INTO THE MAINSTREAM
By: Steve Weiler

Rock Health Summit 2018 reveals uptake across the healthcare spectrum

Digital health held the spotlight at this year’s Rock Health Summit in San Francisco. What impressed me most there is how deeply the concept now permeates our industry.

A few years ago, those of us passionate about the value of experience design and digital in healthcare saw organizations more focused on technology than on business and clinical results. At this year’s Rock Health Summit, it was clear this has changed. For two days, representatives from life sciences, health insurers, providers, venture capital and startups talked about digital health’s mainstream implications for improved care delivery, access, and customer experience.

Three main themes emerged at the conference. Together, they bring out just how far we have come.

The mainstream is shifting. Digital has already proven a viable disrupter in other industries; healthcare is next. Traditional healthcare today more actively employs digital tools in response to pressure to meet changing customer experience expectations in areas like ease of access, health management and cost of services. According to Rock Health’s Midyear Funding Review, the sustained growth in digital health investment over the last few months alone has been staggering. More players see its value and understand the danger of being left behind.

Uptake is no longer rooted in coverage and general wellness, but in the hyper-personalization of care itself. Represented at the Rock Health Summit was Wildflower Health, which bills itself to payers as “a digital catalyst” for clinical services; and Collective Health, which emphasizes connectivity and control in their workforce health management system; as well as others such as Flatiron Health focused on learning from the experience of every cancer patient working across healthcare industry segments.

Digital health is more results-oriented. In earlier days, digital entrepreneurs often pitched technology for technology’s sake. Innovation itself was the business plan. At Rock Health 2018, the focus was grounded in industry reality. Companies discussed specific impacts and value measures related to market opportunity and results achieved to date. A cross-section of more than 50 digital health companies represented solutions from across the healthcare spectrum, including on-demand healthcare services, consumer health information, research and development, disease diagnosis, treatment and monitoring.

Human Longevity offers customers hyper-personalized treatment with body scans and full genome sequencing to counter health issues before they begin. They presented a dramatically proactive treatment model and a focused business plan, complete with price points. Like many other attendees, they can talk business impact in language a healthcare executive or buyer understands.

Convergence is becoming the next digital. The Rock Health Summit represented a fantastic convergence of digital health, healthcare providers, health insurers, life sciences and services firms engaging to improve our healthcare experience and outcomes. Its collaborative spirit brought together health industry leaders such as Bernard Tyson (CEO, Kaiser Permanente) and Dr. Karen DeSalvo (former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health & Human Services) and leaders of new innovative companies such as Mario Schlosser (CEO and Co-founder, Oscar Health) and Anne Wojcicki (CEO and Co-founder, 23andMe), all discussing ways of working together to bring powerful healthcare solutions to life.

For me, the main takeaway from the summit ties into this last point: The collective has become more powerful. More than ever before, the healthcare ecosystem is more fluid and becoming increasingly collaborative. Experience design provides a strategic framework through which to drive healthcare innovation. Is your organization working with an experience agency to infuse design thinking and innovative new services based on customer insights? Is your organization integrating digital health solutions and transformation into your core service delivery? With today’s growing healthcare industry disruption, now is the time to start.

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