By Mukund Kanoria
We present a roundup of our thoughts on Health 2.0 which took place in Barcelona last week, where The Next Silicon Valley was a media partner.
As a result of competition, conflicting interests, a challenging regulatory environment and political fiddling most healthcare systems are a bit millennium falcon; doddery old behemoths rocketing through space and time, held together by a handful of brilliant minds (see our previous article here). By hosting some incredible technology and panel discussions, Health 2.0 offered more than just an industry gathering and knowledge sharing opportunity for those in healthcare technology; it offered a view of what medicine could and hopefully will become, and how to get there.
Data – quality and quantity
With the rise of open source alternatives and the financial and legal complexities involved, intellectual property can be a poor way of protecting your product. As Mike Lee of MyFitnessPal.com pointed out, the best way you can protect your product is by having a better product than anyone else. Data is becoming an increasingly important player in this regard. The way he maintains his lead is by having more users and so a larger data volume, thus the ability to provide more accurate information, achieving better results for customers and so creating a virtuous cycle.
The next step is of course how to use that data effectively. One of the most fascinating products is the combined lifestyle and genetics tracking software made by BaseHealth, which predicts and quantifies modifiable and non-modifiable disease vulnerability and even more interestingly, food and drug response and sensitivity.
Open source – no device is an island
Whilst easy to dismiss as trendy, there is a strong case for opening up the flow of information in the healthcare technology sector, a view backed both by industry leaders and healthcare professionals at the conference. With a multitude of hardware and software options facing both patients and professionals the best way to increase appeal is compatibility. Open source platforms reduce cost and increase ease of use for the end user as they need to invest less in a multiple devices or programmes that perform similar functions. Given the high cost of medical solutions and the complexity of learning how to use them, reducing these barriers mean broader uptake of any one product.
Patient centric – shifting from product to service
As demonstrated by the explosion in the wearables market there are lots of interesting products all claiming to be the next big thing. The ones that will truly make an impact are those that understand that success results from cohesion and quality. With even big pharma hosting a panel discussion on the topic, companies looking to retain customers must consider the overall patient experience and create a service that proactively adds value to users’ lives. An excellent example is Esysta’s insulin pen which tracks time and dose of insulin, but goes on to complete the value chain by uploading tracking data, sending mobile reminders and helping with carbohydrate calculations, and so covering almost all of the patient and healthcare professionals interests with regards to insulin provision.
Thus we have a vision of the future. A progressive healthcare environment that integrates technology to promote overall wellbeing, rather than the current spot adoption of isolated products and locations.
The healthcare market is not without it’s difficulties however. As pointed out several times during the conference aggressive regulation and the scepticism of professionals are difficult to navigate and take a level of patience and commitment unsuited to those looking for a quick buck. On the other hand high quality, evidence based offerings that reflect understanding of the healthcare and business environment they fit into have industry changing potential.
Mukund Kanoria was reporting on behalf of The Next Silicon Valley in Barcelona. He is with Advinia Healthcare Ltd.