Today’s health industry proves that necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Tested by a global pandemic, healthcare players have demonstrated their resilience, marshaling new technological solutions to overcome critical consumer health, safety and financing challenges. A key part of this response involves health tech startups that have risen to the challenge, pushing breakthrough after breakthrough as they humanize healthcare by putting the health of consumers and clinicians at the center of all they do.  So, what is next on healthcare’s digital evolution?

As executive sponsor of Accenture’s Fifth Annual HealthTech Challenge, I’m excited to announce our top eight finalists and their areas of concentration:

  1. Angle Health – An innovative data-driven health plan that offers organizations with fewer than 50 employees a “full tech stack” backend to replace legacy systems.
  2. Axle Health – A new software platform that enables any healthcare player to offer in-home visits to patients. Also provides operational management and a network of healthcare professionals to handle in-home care.
  3. Donisi Health (Israeli) – A contact-free in-home health sensing system for patients with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. It provides measurement and trend analysis to notify patients when measurements deviate from personalized norms.
  4. Ellipsis Health – A system that identifies, measures and monitors patient depression and anxiety severity through voice analysis. It feeds the data to cloud-based deep learning models, using natural language processing to produce real-time low-latency analytics and confidence estimates of depression and anxiety severity levels.
  5. OmCare – An open access home health platform that allows healthcare organizations to extend care into the home via a secure telehealth infrastructure that integrates with patented medication dispensing technology.
  6. Phyxable (Canada) – With the help of telemedicine, augmented reality, and machine learning, Phyxable empowers people in pain to diagnose, self-treat and prevent their injuries from coming back without stepping outside of their homes.
  7. SimX – A comprehensive professional-grade virtual reality medical simulation system used to train physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals.
  8. Spora Health – Offering primary care for people of color, Spora Health meets the cultural expectations of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community.

At the highest level, providing new ways to deliver and finance health solutions has been an enduring trend among HealthTech applications over the past two to three years. This year we continued to see an increase in applications providing new care delivery services that are closer to people’s communities and their homes. We also noticed an uptick in applications with a focus on improving health equity by serving historically underserved needs, including the needs of women and people in the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and homeless populations.

At the same time, digital health infrastructure platforms have emerged as a rising trend in our application pool. These infrastructure platforms include plug-and-play cross-platform solutions to help healthcare organizations address data interoperability issues, launch conversational AI applications, improve patient engagement processes, and deploy AI-driven decision support systems. These platforms help accelerate the creation of new applications and services for patients and clinicians at scale.

Health tech companies in our applicant pool also continue to combine traditional digital technologies – social, mobile, analytic and cloud – in new and novel ways to improve access, care, quality, and cost positions. In addition, we had an increase in health tech company applications this year that provide solutions that tap into the next wave of digital technologies. These include DARQ (Distributed leger technologies like blockchain, Artificial intelligence, extended Reality solutions and Quantum computing) technologies.

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Bubbling up beyond the megatrends

In reviewing our eight selected finalists and the many other outstanding health tech startups judged by our team of health industry C-suite executives this year, I identified several themes converging below the megatrends.

Home is where the healing is, or “care anywhere.” The pandemic accelerated many home care delivery strategies as healthcare organizations increasingly evolve their care models to prepare for a future where home is where the healing is. We saw a high volume of applications focused on supporting care in the home, including solutions for virtual specialty consults, hospital at home, remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics. This shift harkens back to the classic doctor house calls of old, but with a high-tech twist: the focus is definitely on high-quality healthcare brought directly to patients where and when they need it via virtual health technology.

Striving for equitable healthcare. New models of care and care support are emerging to address historically underserved needs tied to health inequality. We received applications from companies addressing the care and support of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ populations, as well as the disabled and homeless. They seek to improve care for historically underserved people and communities. This year’s strong showing in these areas among applicants provides evidence the healthcare industry could be ready to take an honest look at long-standing health disparities across markets and populations. Even more striking, more key people in the applicant pool are themselves members of these populations: who better to drive healthcare equity among the underserved than those who have the lived experience?

Women’s maternity health and beyond. A high volume of applications sought to meet women’s health needs across life stages, from reproductive health to menopause, reflecting the new emphasis the health industry has begun to place on women’s medical needs.

Behavioral health. We also saw a high volume of applications aimed at helping people improve their mental health and wellbeing. Viewed holistically, this merging of the need to treat the mind and the body as one shows a new awareness of the unique challenges people face in today’s health ecosystem.

Emerging technologies. We saw a growing number of applications that feature next-wave digital technologies. Specifically, there were a number of new and novel solutions that leverage artificial intelligence, digital twins, 3D printing, and blockchain to address experience, clinical and administrative use cases. These build upon traditional digital technologies – including social, mobile, analytic, and cloud (SMAC) solutions – melding them to increase synergies and improve healthcare.

The judges also made special mention of League, a Canadian company that is a personalized health experience platform, which ties into the infrastructure platform megatrend mentioned above. League’s platform is gaining rapid customer traction, which put it in a unique position among the other eight finalists, so we created a special category: The Next HealthTech Unicorn.

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Each HealthTech finalist has a unique story to tell and mission to pursue. Collectively, they represent the best of compassionate healthcare enabled by the most promising technologies the twenty-first century has to offer. I’m excited about this year’s set of finalists, not just because of their ingenuity and ability, but because of what they represent in human terms: improved health equity, care, and financing – they provide the optimistic resilience needed for a brighter tomorrow.

Stay tuned to see who occupies the winner’s circle on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021!

Brian Kalis

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy Lead, Health

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