Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, a new morning email providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by BI Intelligence.
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NOKIA REMAINS BULLISH ON ITS DIGITAL HEALTH OFFERINGS: Nokia remains confident in the potential of its digital health business, despite having to writedown 141 million euros ($164 million) in the third quarter, according to Reuters. The Finnish telecommunications company dipped its toes in the digital health market in 2016, purchasing Withings, a smart health and fitness wearables maker, for 170 million euros ($197 million). Nokia’s confidence likely comes from the rapid growth of the booming global healthcare market, which is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 25% between 2017 and 2024 to reach $379 billion, according to Global Market Insights.
While new to digital health, Nokia’s experience with mobile devices positions it well to succeed in the mobile health (mHealth) market. mHealth includes all aspects of digital healthcare that involve mobile devices, including apps and health monitoring devices, like fitness trackers. This segment of digital health is expected to outpace the overall digital health growth rate – from 2017, it’s forecast to grow at an annualized rate of 35% to $200 billion by 2024.
Nokia’s has made a number of moves in the digital health space beyond its acquisition of Withings:
- The company launched its Health Mate app in June. The app will serve as a central hub for consumers to evaluate data collected from Withings’ existing health tracking wearables line-up as well as forthcoming products. The business unit’s growth strategy is focusing on patent, technology, and brand licensing to facilitate faster growth in the market. That’s according to Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri on the company’s Q3 2017 earnings call Friday. While the company took a hit from the Withings purchase, Suri reaffirmed Nokia’s plans to leverage its global brand name and technological experience to take advantage of the digital health opportunity.
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NEW ZOCDOC FEATURE USES AI FOR APPOINTMENT BOOKING: Zocdoc, the online medical scheduling company, launched an AI-powered insurance checking feature, which aims to reduce major scheduling pain points for both patients and providers. Patients will now be able to quickly add their insurance data and get coverage information just by uploading a picture of their insurance card. Zocdoc, using an artificial intelligence (AI) model that recognizes patterns on thousands of types of medical insurance cards and can match them with a known carrier and plan, reducing a primary pain point for the majority of US consumers – 77% of insured Americans stated they would like an easier way to ensure their doctor is in-network when booking appointments, according to a Zocdoc-Kelton Global Insurance Confidence survey. AI technology has the potential to transform the patient experience by providing the means to create a more tailored, personalized experience at scale – 84% of healthcare executives believe AI will revolutionize the way they will gain data from and interact with customers, according to Accenture.
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SAMSUNG LEVERAGES ITS START-UP INCUBATOR TO PUSH FURTHER INTO DIGITAL HEALTH: Samsung announced that it will support two digital health start-ups that will be spinning off from the firm’s C-lab incubation program.
- PixelRO helps people with presbyopia (an eye condition) use their phones. The company uses a transparent screen cover and a mobile app to sharpen the display, essentially replacing glasses for older citizens. 1Drop is a low-cost blood glucose measurement solution. Users place a device on the back of their smartphones over their camera, which is then used to perform colorimetric analysis of a blood sample.
The two companies will likely bolster Samsung’s larger digital health push. In 2014, the firm launched the Samsung Digital Health Initiatives, which uses open hardware and software platforms to accelerate the development of digital health technology. Samsung also invested $50 million into a start-up fund for digital health companies. The tech giant’s strategy is to farm innovative startups and then invest, acquire or partner those that show potential. In contrast, Samsung’s top competitor Apple, uses its deep pockets to develop digital technologies internally.
GROWING USE OF CONSUMER HEALTH APPS AND ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS DRIVES PRIVACY CONCERNS: The lack of transparency and regulation around how health and wellness apps collect and use personal information should be a big concern for consumers, according to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr. Speaking at a Department of Health and Human Services symposium in Washington last week, Ostherr suggested that this could lead to broader data privacy issues, particularly given the lack of awareness around how data breaches, such as the one experienced by Equifax, could affect internal electronic health record (EHR) systems. EHRs are becoming increasingly widespread, particularly by hospitals in the US. BI Intelligence forecasts that the rapid spread of electronic health records (EHR) will continue, with more than 760,000 physicians in the US, or upwards of 80% of all doctors, working at a facility that uses an EHR system by 2019. By 2025, nearly all facilities in the US will use EHR, with only a small fraction of private offices, generally owned by older physicians, still relying on physical records. Even the laggards may be phased out faster than expected should governments, either national or local, implement regulations that make the use of EHR systems a requirement.
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PARTNERS CONNECTED HEALTH IS MAKING IT EASIER FOR PATIENTS TO SHARE DATA: Partners Connected Health, a part of integrated health systems company Partners Healthcare, is working with data connectivity provider Validic to give its clinicians and researchers access to patient-generated health data from over 420 consumer and clinical health devices. Physicians can use this data to provide efficient, evidence-based care. It can also be integrated into care plans and electronic health records (EHR) for patients. Increasing adoption of fitness devices will contribute to a spike in consumer-generated data. The global wearable medical devices market is poised to grow at an annualized rate of 17% over the next eight years to reach approximately $23.8 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. The resulting patient health data sets will likely speed the development of artificial intelligence (AI) for healthcare use cases. These datasets can be used to train algorithms to process more accurate results more quickly, according to a study by the National Health Service.