Wow, what a 2014 we have had in digital healthcare. First of all, investment to fund digital healthcare start-ups has tripled according to Rock Health’s reports. As a result many new start-ups have sprung, many others have consolidated. What seemed a dream 12 months ago is today a reality: Digital is quickly becoming a pillar to disrupt and improve healthcare as we know it.
The same has happened with Digital Labs, we have gone from strength to strength in these last 9 months, consolidating our adventure and pointing to a promising 2015.
But the subject of this post is not to self-promote the Company, but rather to share with you our view on what will be the hot trends in digital healthcare in 2015.
1. Price transparency will continue expanding in healthcare, both from the pharma retail side and the medical services side. Firms like PromoFarma are already doing this for parapharma with their independent pharmacy marketplace. On the other hand, Healthia, Medprivé and others will continue showing consumers what is the real price of medical services.
2. Insurance companies are trying to ride a new wave pushing second opinión and telemedicine. Second opinión will get a boost through digital, maybe going beyond the traditional insurers arm to reach the 80+% uninsured consumers in European markets. As for telemedicine, the main hurdle is still the lack of adequate connections to facilitate a good user experience. However, this linked to initiatives like Mediktor, that allows to predict through the use of questions what might be the problem, there might be a possibility to run this through telephone means, not involving web cams.
3. International expansion by successful local players will start to shape-up the industry. So far digital healthcare market has been operated on a very local scale, but very often it is difficult to get critical mass to succeed which prompts for expansion. Additionally, although healthcare systems are different, problems seem to be quite transversal – knowing how to choose a great doctor or getting real prices for pharma goods are problems in all markets. It still remains to be seen if healthcare investors will be willing to accompany their start-ups in that international expansion.
4. Accreditation will become ever more critical as the sheer numbers of apps, devices, and content makes it necessary to establish some hurdles and protect consumers. Hopefully, governments will implement systems and rules that will not stiffle innovation, but rather just put some order in a complex & increasing universe.
5. We will see in Europe the first big accelerators, incubators and VCs truly specialised in digital healthcare. So far, the continent has not advanced on that arena partly due to the fact that EU healthcare systems are perceived as too different and regulatory barriers pose a great challenge. However, this misses the point established above – successful start-ups will start moving to expand and show the way. If Europe wants to become a hub for digital healthcare, it will need quite a few of these organizations to compete with the likes of RockHealth.
6. The first successful big exits will occur. There is already a sufficient base for the first big acquisitions to take place and start building European or transcontinental companies that will drive the future of healthcare in a given area. This will boost the interest of investors in digital healthcare, driving further growth.
7. Big data and privacy will go from big talk to big action as players find the way forward to implement and monetize correctly. We will not see any dominant start-ups in this environment, but rather two or three cases showing how the future can look like.
8. Online Reputation will become a key trend among physicians. Prompted by the myriad of rating sites and doctor directories that are springing all over the place we will see doctor’s getting increasingly interested on how to navigate this new world. Startups like TopDoctors will become a key player in this realm, helping leading experts in each field.
9. More and better international and local events will reflect the growing interest in digital healthcare and help promote the emergence of more projects across Europe. But for these events to be truly impactful they will have to include the different stakeholders that populate our complex healthcare systems. Not only VCs and startups, but also patients, doctors, hospital managers, public servants, health insurers, pharma companies, manufacturers of medical equipments, etc.
10. And last, we will start to see how startups from emerging markets find their way to developed markets. So far we have been notoriously inward looking as if nothing were happening outside our borders. However, from what I have seen at international events this year, lots of fantastic innovation geared towards the 6.5 billion human beings living in non-developed countries is taking place in India. If you truly want to make an impact, there is great opportunity there.
From our humble position we aspire to continue working to support all these trends and help transform good ideas into great projects. We have several big initiatives to nurture this development which we will share with you as they materialize.
And if you want to remain tuned make sure you sign-up to our twitter account @DigitalLabsSp.
Happy holidays to all.