2019 has been an important year for health technology. We are now seeing an inflection point in the development and adoption of consumer-facing healthcare solutions, one in which, enabled by technology, the healthcare industry is beginning to provide more personalized and higher-quality services to both patients and doctors with much greater accessibility and scale.
It’s also been a significant year for Ada, with further widespread adoption of our consumer-facing application. Earlier this year, we reached 8 million Ada users, and at a global level, we recently launched Ada in Swahili – bringing us another step closer in our mission to make quality, personalized healthcare a reality for everyone.
It has also been an encouraging year for collaboration across the health industry, which is absolutely vital for understanding how health technologies can be deployed in the real world, and ensuring that they are implemented, regulated, and tested properly. Healthcare is incredibly complex, and we’re proud to have worked with a range of experts, digital health companies, and other stakeholders this year on projects like the ITU/World Health Organization’s AI for Health initiative, which is establishing a clear method and standard for benchmarking AI-powered solutions in healthcare. Next year, it is paramount that we continue to work together to seek solutions to some of the most important challenges this new technological frontier has faced recently and will face in the future.
Across society and as more and more services become digital, data privacy has been a key topic this year – and rightly so, particularly within our industry, where digital and mobile technologies are rapidly accelerating the rate of innovation. Health data is some of the most personal, and sensitive, types of information that a person owns – and ensuring users’ data is protected and secure is one of our industry’s most critical priorities. As an industry, we need to ensure that companies are putting the best interests of their users first, and that they operate in a responsible, ethical, and transparent way. At Ada, we welcome the dialogue around this crucial topic, and we hold ourselves to high standards and continuously review how we best serve users.
We also want to continue to be clear and transparent with our users about who we work with and our approach to data as we evolve, which is why we have taken a number of steps to update our policies and processes in recent weeks as our company and userbase grow.
Grounded in our commitment to privacy by design, we’ve implemented a new, more transparent onboarding process for all users as well as more comprehensive questioning and guidelines on how our users’ data is processed and protected specific to digital health. We have also published a new privacy statement that addresses questions our users might have and provides additional clarity on how our service works. Finally, we are very conscious of sensitivities around the industry’s work with third parties. We’re committed to continually reviewing and updating how we work with partners and providers, and will be as transparent as possible with our users on this.
It’s important that our users are able to see and understand which services we utilize, for what purposes, and why. As a company, our long-term ambition is to provide a more personalized quality level of healthcare to patients everywhere while lowering the barriers to entry for those without access to healthcare professionals. We believe we have the opportunity not only to build something that benefits the individual, but in doing so, create opportunities for better health outcomes for millions of others. The trust and open dialogue with our users will be what gets us there, as it has got us to where we are today. We have built an extremely powerful tool, and we have a responsibility to use it in the right way and keep users’ interests front and center, to change healthcare for the better. We pride ourselves on working closely with regulators, and are proactively working towards new sector-wide guidance and upcoming policy changes.
We are just now beginning to scratch the surface of the potential of personalized digital health, but the longer-term benefits for the industry are quickly becoming apparent. From analyzing population health in much more detail and predicting outbreaks with greater precision and accuracy, to prevention and reducing the time it takes to detect rare diseases, the progress is there to see. Now we need to work together – emerging digital health companies, industry and regulators alike – to chart a course for how we ensure this technology lives up to its full potential. Only by working together will we increase the impact we can have on this sector and demonstrate what digital health can achieve for patients and doctors.