Cutting-edge digital solutions are transforming the way we approach health. People across the globe are using the devices they have in their pockets to take control of their health, easing the burden on overstrained health systems and putting care in the hands of those who need it most. And the industry is paying attention: Investment in digital health shows no sign of slowing. But despite some promising developments, such as national digital health strategies in Australia and Denmark, health systems have been slow to catch on.
This month we introduced #meetAda, our new event series exploring innovations in health. For #meetAda 01. Future health, our Co-founder & CEO Daniel Nathrath joined Selfapy Co-founder & CMO Farina Schurzfeld, simplinic CBDO Tobias Meixner, and Qunomedical Founder & CEO Dr. Sophie Chung to discuss their outlooks on the future of health. Moderated by Bloomberg News reporter Sarah M Syed, conversations focused on what we, as digital health innovators, can do in 2020 to get health systems to start taking digital health seriously. Here are some key takeaways.
We need to prioritize users’ needs
The digital health market is self-regulating. If users don’t like our products, the products disappear. If people choose to welcome digital health solutions, doctors and health systems will pay attention. Our solutions need to tackle the real problems our users face and remain convenient. The importance of working with our users and focusing on their needs was highlighted during the conversation. The user should be central to everything we do. If we develop tools that fulfill their needs, users will welcome us into their lives.
We need to prove ourselves to doctors
Doctors sit at the frontline of care. They’re the gatekeepers between patients and the plethora of care options at their disposal. But some doctors aren’t convinced by digital health solutions. The speakers discussed how medical training often focuses on innovation in pharmaceutical science, with less emphasis on digital health and entrepreneurial thought. This means doctors may be unfamiliar with modern digital health solutions.
But doctors are innovative. The requirement for doctors to constantly adapt to their patients’ needs means flexibility is central to their day-to-day life. Time was highlighted as the single greatest blocker to reaching doctors. With such busy schedules, how can we expect them to keep track of the close to 45,000* mobile health apps available on popular platforms and decide which best suits their patient? Our solutions need to speak for themselves: to be simple, effective, and beautiful. If we can clearly communicate our products’ values, doctors will embrace us.
We need to innovate with regulators
Healthcare requires the tightest regulation – and rightly so. Regulations keep people safe when they’re at their most vulnerable. But the rulebooks aren’t being rewritten at the same rate that healthcare is evolving. The speakers agreed that outdated, restrictive guidelines can scare off entrepreneurs, stalling progress.
As digital health innovators, we need to be bold enough to enter highly regulated spaces and ensure that our voices are heard. If we are collaborative, transparent, and deserving of trust, regulators will adapt with the pace of innovation.
Speaking on global healthcare at the recent University of Cambridge Professor Hawking Fellowship Lecture, Bill Gates said this: “The future is ours to shape – if we choose to make innovation a priority.” We can’t afford to wait, and nor can our users. It’s our duty as digital health innovators to push for change. We need to make digital health an inclusive space – to create a supportive environment where new ideas flourish. For our voices to be heard, we need to be bold. We need to work with doctors and regulators – to help the rulebooks keep pace with innovation. Above all, we need to keep putting our users first – to develop the tools they desperately need. If we can do this, health systems will catch on. Let’s make 2020 the year for digital health.
* Value sourced from Statista at the time of writing