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Digital Health is Dead! Long Live Digital Health!

Posted on October 2, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Rob Coppedge, CEO of Echo Health Ventures recently wrote a provocative post for CNBC proclaiming that digital health is dead.

As evidence, Coppedge cited the work of Rock Health that shows $16 Billion in VC funding has gone to approximately 800 digital health companies since 2014 (note: Rock Health tracks VC deals >$2M for US-based digital health companies). He argued that in order for these VCs to see their expected returns, the entire digital health market would have to triple in value by 2021 – well beyond current projections. Coppedge’s conclusion was that fewer and fewer VC deals in the digital health space will happen in the years ahead – effectively signaling the death of the market.

Although I don’t agree with Coppedge’s claim that that digital health overall is dead, I do concur with his observations and commentary on why VCs may exit the space. Here are some of his lessons learned after investing in digital health:

  1. Better mousetraps are not enough. Inadequate attention was paid to solving how to go to market.
  2. Ill-equipped for enterprise health care. Subject matter expertise, outcomes measurement and political savvy is needed in healthcare – which is rarely necessary in star-ups targeting other industries.
  3. Consumers and patients are not the same. Unlike consumers, patients may not be the ones paying for the service they receive. Plus, engaging individuals in their health is surprisingly difficult and low engagement is common.
  4. Healthcare sales cycles are slow and industry adoption is measured. Growth expectations need to be tempered.
  5. DC is not to blame for stalling digital health. There is no evidence that supports the theory that healthcare innovation has stalled because of the uncertainty surrounding funding and regulations.

For long-time readers of this publication, the list above states the obvious.

Technology alone has never been enough to guarantee success in healthcare. Not only do healthcare customers need evidence a company’s solution actually works, they also need to help through (and beyond) the implementation of the technology. For companies, this often means creating new workflows that incorporate the new technology and helping their client’s staff adjust to those changes. Digital health companies cannot simply activate an account then foist self-serve instructional videos onto clients and expect success.

For me Coppedge’s post reaffirmed something I have long believed – Success in healthcare IT/digital health takes effort. Not only do you need a good product that actually solves a problem, you need a dedicated team of individuals who are healthcare-savvy that can help you navigate the complex health ecosystem. You need people on your team who are truly passionate about and dedicated to improving healthcare – those are the people with staying power and who will help you ride through the frustrating slow pace of change.

In my opinion, digital health is far from dead. It is evolving and changing. The influx of VC money has brought in smart, enthusiastic risk-takers from other industries who have now gotten a sobering dose of cold water dumped on them. Now that many companies are waking up to the reality that it takes years to become an overnight success in healthcare, we will see more consolidation and flame-outs in digital health. To me this potential turmoil represents an evolution of the market rather than a death spiral. The easy money and opportunists will soon be making an exit – leaving the market wide open for true believers and passionate hard workers.

Do Hospitals Care About Healthcare IT Accelerator Companies?

Posted on May 24, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about all the various Healthcare IT accelerators out there. There’s a lot of interest in investment in healthcare right now. Just today I posted about a new online healthcare investment portal called VentureHealth. Add in the Rock Health, Startup Health, NYeC Accelerator, Blueprint Health, and Healthbox (I’m sure I’m missing a few others) and we’re seeing a really tremendous interest in trying to create innovative solutions for healthcare.

Despite all this movement and investment, I’m afraid to ask, “Do hospitals care about Healthcare IT accelerator companies?”

In all the conversations I’ve had with hospital executives, I can’t remember once hearing them say that they can’t wait to see what innovations come out of a healthcare accelerator. Sure, some of the accelerators are more focused on consumer health, but there seems like a major disconnect between healthcare accelerators and actual hospitals and doctors.

I noted the one exception to this seemed to be the NYeC accelerator which seems to have good connections to a number of NY based hospitals. Now that their first class is complete, I’ll be interested to talk to those companies that participated to see how well those connections really played out.

To be honest, I’m not sure why there’s the disconnect. Are hospital CIO’s just overwhelmed with all the daily minutiae and government regulations that they don’t have time to look at innovations? Are the healthcare accelerator companies not producing something worthy of hospital CIO interest?

Regardless of why, I see a wide chasm between the innovations that are being worked on in healthcare accelerators and the actual healthcare decision makers.

Notable Women in Health IT

Posted on March 22, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Too often, I’m forced to use the pronoun “he” when discussing the luminaries of health IT.  Certainly, that’s partly because health IT is a boy-geek world, but we mustn’t forget the female powerhouses in the biz.

For example, here’s some samples from a list of 12 HIT women you should know, courtesy of www.hitconsultant.net.

  • Judith Faulkner:  Love her or hate her (and experienced readers know where I stand!) Faulkner is perhaps the most powerful woman in health IT — maybe in health IT period!   Between 1979 and today, she’s built a company which stands like a Colossus astride hospital IT, and you’ve gotta admit, that’s one hell of an accomplishment.
  •  Halle Tecco:  Tecco is co-founder of Rock  Health, a seed-stage business accelerator focused on health startups. As if the buzz factor alone wasn’t enough to earn her a spot — Rock Health is cooler than Elvis these days — she’s managed to draw funding from Microsoft, Qualcomm, Quest Diagnostics and Genentech, a quatra-fecta cutting across enterprise IT, wireless, clinical reference labs and biotech.
  • Tiffany Crenshaw:  Crenshaw, president and CEO of health IT recruiting firm Intellect Resources, is not just any smile and dial recruiter.  She created a new event called Big Break, a one-day audition process allowing hospitals to hire a 200+ person training and go-live team in just one day. Now that’s a turnaround.

To catch the other nine, which include everyone’s favorite HHS chief Kathleen Sebelius, visit the site here.

By the way, if I had made the list, I would have included any of the female senior leaders from big, bad health information network Availity;  Mary Pat Whaley, leader of Manage My Practice; and just about any of the CIOs  or CNIOs of five+ hospital IDNs. It’s categories like these where I expect to see real growth, especially the CNIO/VP of nursing informatics slot.

What do you think?