Trends in healthcare information technology, why it matters to doctors

Health 2.0′s 7th Annual Convention in Silicon Valley highlighted big trends occurring in the field of healthcare technology. Sessions covered sensors, mobile apps, and infrequently-discussed topics such as sexual health and alcoholism and happiness.

Panels covered innovative apps in diagnosis of diseases, details on approaching venture capital firms, and mental health applications.

We had the opportunity to talk with leaders in mobile health including Pete Hudson, MD, CEO of iTriage and Mantosh Dewan, MD, advisor to CyberDoctor.

We will also share interviews with the senior Vice President of HealthOne’s Sermo, Amy Cueva, founder of the Mad*Pow health technology design firm as well as other leading figures in Health 2.0. Below, we’ll highlight where nearly US $2 billion in funding goes to which types of apps and devices, opportunities for healthcare physicians and patients with app ideas, and the most important trends occurring in healthcare information technology.

Health IT Trends

Matthew Holt (@boltyboy), co-founder of Health 2.0, believes three trends are occurring in health IT:

  • data mobility: data can be shared among apps, devices and networks to reduce the need for old-fashioned, time-consuming faxes, paper medical records and redundancy in processes. Holt asserts that this is important because data is often unavailable at the point of care, with coordination gaps such as results/records not available at appointments, gaps in hospital discharge planning, and lack of review of prescriptions.
  • trackers & sensors: connected scales, blood pressure monitors, sleep trackers, and fitness watches are making it easier for patients and physicians to collect data
  • usability & design: especially for electronic medical records, the usability of EMR’s is in an extremely poor state.

2013-key-areas-of-health-IT-innovation
Furthermore, sensors, in particular, have contributed to the trend of “too much data,” according to Christine Robins, general manager of BodyMedia & Jawbone:

“People want this healthcare data,” Robins says during the Health 2.0 panel on wearable sensors, “but people want it to move with them. Users often say, ‘I don’t know where this data is going to go.’” She finds it interesting that with sensors, “a lot of people overestimate how active they are, and underestimate what they eat.”

2013-companies-by-technology-category

Who is in the Market

The Health 2.0 team noted that, in the current state of the market, as many as 60% of the companies in the healthcare technology space are consumer-facing. The remainder of the companies target apps & software for professionals, patient-provider communication, and data analytics. These companies are focusing on, in descending order:

  • self-management tools & trackers
  • wellness
  • business-to-business clinician workflow tools
  • patient-provider communication
  • business-to-business administrative tools
  • data utilities
  • content

2013-companies-by-segment

As can be seen above, much of the growth has been in areas that are consumer-facing.

Opportunities for Healthcare Professionals and Patients

As for how healthcare professionals can engage in this area, there are a number of opportunities. We would argue that healthcare practitioners have the real-world clinical experience to inform the development and application of many of these products as consultants or medical advisors.

For instance, designing an app to support self-management of heart failure is almost certainly doomed to fail if the end-users, clinicians and patients, are not involved from the start. Healthcare practitioners looking to launch entrepreneurial start-ups may want to look at Matthew Holt’s list of areas with less competition, such as:

  • clinical trials search & recruitment (an area with the least number of companies)
  • privacy & identity
  • financial management
  • gaming
  • search

2013-annual-funding

Health 2.0 reports that, over the last 2 years, the amount of funding in this industry has nearly doubled from $1.03 B to $1.61 B in 2012 and $1.94 B in 2013 (as of Q3 2013). This, combined with the Affordable Care Act’s disruption of the current healthcare landscape, continues to make it ripe for business opportunity.

About the conference

Health 2.0 recently held their annual conference in Silicon Valley, bringing together business leaders and entrepreneurs along with physicians, empowered patients, and nurses making headlines with their new apps and software. The Health 2.0 organization, since 2007, has held conventions throughout the world, established local grassroots chapters of health technology enthusiasts, and provided media coverage of emerging companies and products.

Steven Chan, M.D., M.B.A., is a resident physician at the University of California, Davis Health System, researching mobile technology, psychiatry & human behavior. Steve previously worked as a software & web engineer & designer at Microsoft & UC Berkeley. Reach him at @StevenChanMD or www.stevenchanMD.com.

Author:

Steven Chan (@StevenChanMD)

is a resident physician in psychiatry & human behavior at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, and is current American Psychiatric Association (APA) & Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Minority Fellow. He's currently researching asynchronous telepsychiatry & mobile healthcare applications. Steve previously worked as a visual designer and software engineer at both Microsoft & UC Berkeley.

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