The Hacking Medicine program is an initiative that aims to “infect, energize and teach Healthcare Entrepreneurship and digital strategies to scale medicine to attack and solve health problems globally.” In addition to mentoring and supporting aspiring digital health entrepreneurs, Hacking Medicine is especially well known for its popular health hackathons.
Now, Hacking Medicine is being spun out of MIT into a standalone nonprofit institute that will try to promote the development of effective, evidence-based digital health products. And according to recent reports from StartUp Health and Rock Health, there will be no shortage of products to evaluate with investment in digital health this year already over $2 billion.
It doesn’t sound like Hacking Medicine is going to be more broad than a standard clinical research institute. They plan to invite a variety of stakeholders to collaborate with them to produce guidelines on how to evaluate a digital health product. It will be interesting to see if this goes the route of something like AAMI, where the industry in effect self-regulates by developing their own product standards. In addition to producing these guidelines, in the form of white papers, Hacking Medicine will also evaluate digital health products presumably against those standards.
And they aren’t alone in this venture. Stanford associated Evidation Health jumped into this space earlier this year, announcing plans to help digital health companies clinically validate their technology by connecting them with clinicians and researchers. And Aurora Health, a large network of hospitals and clinics, recently took a stake in StartUp Health with plans to use their clinical sites as a testbed for the technology being developed by StartUp’s portfolio of companies. And that’s just the start of the list of groups jumping into the business of validating digital health products.
This trend is being driven in large part by what it takes to get funded now. In an increasingly crowded marketplace, just having a slick gadget or app won’t get you the attention or success it would five years ago. It now matters whether that gadget or app actually affects anything that matters. And that’s a change I’m happy to finally see.