Last month, Rock Health hosted their annual two-day summit in San Francisco which brought together more than 700 diverse people from technology, medicine, policy, and beyond to tackle healthcare’s most challenging problems.
Industry leaders in the digital health space participated in panels and keynote speeches discussing how far the industry has come and where it’s headed. A few members of Highwire’s digital health practice were lucky enough to attend and compiled a short list of the most interesting trends heading into 2020.
The New Competitive Landscape in Healthcare
Executives from Healthineers, Salesforce and Sutter Health came together to talk about their digital strategies and where the competition within the digital health landscape are heating up. It’s no secret that most tech companies are trying to enter the health space, but why?
The panelists discussed that beyond heath being a gigantic business and accounting for 1/6 of the economy, some of the most important technologies come from the health space and tech companies know they can help contribute. Whether their contribution is providing an app to make things more accessible, providing AI tools to aggregate data or providing security for data, they know they can help.
In terms of competition, the biggest race the panelists are seeing is telemedicine versus traditional healthcare providers. Years ago you would go to your physician to get diagnosed or treated and now we’re seeing retail companies like Amazon entering the space who can contribute and offer services to people.
Key takeaway: Competition is evolving outside of traditional healthcare providers and it’s new players in the space like Amazon that will continue to shake up the healthcare landscape.
Healthcare Techlash is Here
Led by CNBC’s Chrissy Farr, this panel included executives from American Medical Association, Verily and Google discussing what the healthcare techlash is and how companies are dealing with it. Unanimously, it was agreed upon that it is affecting every aspect of our lives and it all comes down to one thing: data.
There’s an ongoing debate between tech and healthcare companies as to who should own the data and what data should be shared. The panelists emphasized that we need to build that bridge tech companies and healthcare so that we’re benefiting the patient — data allows us to fully understand a patient.
Key takeaway: We need to create partnerships between physicians, healthcare and tech developers to better treat patients. Without these partnerships, crucial data will be kept from professionals who need it and patients will not be getting the care they need.
The Next Frontier of Digital Drug Discovery
Arguably the most heated panel of the event, executives from Insitro, the FDA and Ciitizen discussed pharma’s investment in digital tools, where impact is today, and what we can expect the R&D pipeline to look like in the not-too-distant future. At the focus of this conversation yet again, was data. However, this discussion focused on high-quality data and how this is the key to creating new drugs that will benefit patients.
What made this discussion so lively was having the opinions from two executives at tech companies and the opinions from the FDA. Both tech executives discussed how there needs to be a shift in drug discovery, instead of mass-producing drugs, create drugs that appeal to a smaller population and treat more specific cases. To which the FDA said that in order to do this they need to build new technical infrastructure to scale for the future and prioritize individualized and tailored drugs.
Key Takeaway: Data is to creating and producing drugs for the future — without high-quality data the industry will struggle to keep up with the demand for new drugs that benefit patients.
Hearing from industry leaders with different backgrounds and their points of view on where the pain points are now and the endless possibilities of digital health companies in the future was extremely valuable. The biggest takeaways from this year’s summit and what we’ll be looking out for in the digital health space would be the need for partnerships between tech companies and healthcare, the need for high-quality data.
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