Yes, the Internet is here to stay. And yes, there are 3,4 billion smartphones in use on this planet and life becomes more digital by the minute. It’s no surprise that healthcare management has experienced an explosion of digital connected devices and connected data that prompt new opportunities but also challenges to topics like integrated care solutions and data-driven innovation. A visit to the “9th Berlin Conference on IP in Life Sciences” proved to be very insightful in this area of expertise, bringing together more than 130 pharma managers, biotech entrepreneurs , big data and bio IT experts, investors and startups across Europe.
Opportunities and expectations for Digital Health solutions
The main reason why Digital Health is a development to thoroughly evaluate is its potential for enhancing patient engagement and health literacy as well as predicting behavior, events and supporting clinical decisions with big data and thus, in the end, reducing costs. Patients can track their own blood sugar or fitness values already but there is much more that they could potentially do. If data was more comprehensively evaluated much more conclusions could be drawn upon them concerning risks of developing diseases, finding right treatments and overall have access to global medical knowledge.
Successful therapies largely rely on repeating coherent improvements in the physiological system as a whole. Naturally the more comprehensive and reliable this system can be modeled, the more coherent the improvements can be. That, of course, is only possible, if the data underlying is correct and chosen upon the right premise and by the right people – meaning people who are knowledgeable in Healthcare and clinical research. This already shows pretty clearly where the big challenges within Digital Health are to be found.
Transfer the technologies
Translating the data into reliable and relevant conclusions and develop the according technologies is the process that sounds rather easy but is infinitely challenging to master. Structures and whole companies have to be created from scratch in order to deliver the necessary infrastructure. This includes also structural assistance for such start-ups and maybe even additional funding. Because very often entirely different industries meet here, e.g. IT, Consulting or Robotics have to understand Healthcare and Pharma with all its regulations, reimbursements and complex workflows and value-chains.
But not only the different industries collaborating on Digital Health Solutions have to be combined but also the the different expectations of the stakeholders – patients want better health, personalized treatments and better access to specialists, doctors want better tools and resources for their work and better educated and healthier patients and the industry wants proven efficiency, better technology and care.
What to do to “make it”
Looking at all the different players and stakeholders it becomes quite apparent that strategic collaborations are absolutely necessary to make the process work. Even more so the long existing lines alongside patient, doctor and facility need to be further connected, the pathways need to be more visible and understood (e.g. interactions within the healthcare system) using technology and Digital Health Solutions. If these solutions manage to use and translate the existing data and take advantage of the insights gained, put them into a technology that takes the relevant users into account and is useable for them, they are on a good way.