January 31, 2023
With digital transformation efforts in full swing across healthcare and the life sciences industry, and the rise of consumerism accelerating the demand for better access, more convenience, lower cost and seamless experiences, the climate is ripe for innovation and disruptive technologies. Here’s what we at Bluedoor – a full-service growth and innovation agency servicing the healthcare and life sciences market – are excited about in 2023.
Evolving From Telehealth to Telemedicine with Assisted Reality
Telehealth reached a tipping point during the pandemic with widespread user acceptance and adoption among patients and clinicians alike. But it has its limitations. Telehealth (defined as a clinician-patient interaction via a videoconferencing platform) is fine for simple primary care issues such as routine ailments, check-ups and prescription renewals, but anything more complex requires more detailed and qualitative data points that only a hands-on examination can convey, which is why many telehealth visits invariably end in a referral to see a specialist. Telemedicine, on the other hand, leverages technologies such as wearable computing (eg: head-mounted displays and smartglasses) via a nurse or caregiver on the ground with the patient, to deliver a “U see what I see” perspective back to the remote specialist physician, who can now conduct an examination as if they were physically in the room. This more immersive, next-generation virtual care experience has tremendous potential to increase access to specialty care in rural and underserved areas and can result in faster diagnosis and treatment, ultimately improving patient outcomes and reducing the overall cost of care.
Client Spotlight: Hippo Technologies, Inc.
Hippo Virtual Care combines hands-free, voice-activated, wearable headsets at the point of care with a clinical-grade platform to deliver a “through the eyes of the clinician” viewpoint. This allows first responders to an emergency, healthcare workers at a rural clinic, or caregivers at home to livestream their activity to specialist colleagues back at the hospital for real-time consults on complex cases. By simultaneously connecting physician specialists in the hospital and clinicians in the field with an immersive, multidisciplinary team-based experience, Hippo Virtual Care enables advanced remote collaboration to deliver the right diagnosis and treatment the first time, every time.
The Focus on Ethical AI in Healthcare
In the early 20th century, medical knowledge was predicted to double every 100 years; by 2022, it was doubling every 72 days; by 2025, it will double every 30 days. Human beings alone cannot hope to keep up with the sheer volume of data and information that is available, but the potential to harness the insights from this data to make intelligent, informed decisions can not only improve patient outcomes and safety, but also sharpen our ability to predict and prevent. That’s where AI comes in, and the rapid proliferation of AI across healthcare and life sciences – from imaging to predictive analytics to robotic process automation – is bringing that promise to reality. However, AI ethical oversight, transparency, and equity are not keeping pace. It is estimated that barely 1% of AI models currently in use in healthcare have been clinically validated, and further scrutiny has uncovered substantial biases in many algorithms based on limited data sets, with specific concerns regarding the under-representation of ethnically diverse populations. Prepare for a bumpy ride as regulatory bodies struggle to keep pace with innovation and adoption in this space.
Client Spotlight: Collective Good
We are working with a team led by Professor Sean Sylvia from the Department of Health Economics and Policy at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health to develop a crowdsourced human validation platform powered by clinicians that can provide real-world human validation of AI model outputs at scale. The platform will assess key model metrics including efficacy, safety, and bias, and can provide ongoing monitoring for continuous improvement of machine learning algorithms. Those models which pass rigorous clinical scrutiny will be awarded with a SAIF™ accreditation for ethical AI.
The Digital Front Door is now Table Stakes
Consumerism is also driving the need for more convenient, digital-first access to care and a more streamlined experience. Health systems are rushing to build their digital front doors leveraging emerging technologies to improve patient satisfaction across all the touchpoints where providers can digitally interact with patients to drive better access, engagement and experiences. Online scheduling, AI-powered symptom checkers, digital triage, automated chatbots and more are being combined to deliver a retail-like experience that consumers are increasingly demanding. The stakes are high: This year, 65% of patients will have accessed care through a digital front door, while 1 in 5 patients has already switched providers due to a poor digital experience.
Client Spotlight: HealthBook+, Infermedica, VastMindz, Wholistics
HealthBook+ is an early identification and guided health platform that predicts and guides your next best health action and provides access to immediate support with personalized health solutions based on individual needs. HealthBook+ identifies symptoms early, and facilitates access to healthcare screening and high-quality services through secure chats, peer coaching, and education. HealthBook+ also leverages the technology and content of other Bluedoor partners including Infermedica, VastMindz and Wholistics to effectively manage and triage care.
Demonstrating Value from Remote Patient Monitoring
Another consequence of the pandemic was the rapid shift towards Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technologies, that brought the hospital and the clinical trial to the home. It’s rather puzzling why it took a global pandemic to accelerate adoption of RPM, when back in 2005 a study showed that “hospital-at-home care resulted in patients having a shorter length of stay — 3.2 days versus 4.9 days — and fewer complications,”. Given the substantial empirical validation of the effectiveness of RPM to reduce readmissions, support post-surgical recovery, and effectively manage patients with complex, chronic conditions while lowering healthcare costs, this trend looks set to continue – even while the FDA and CMS struggle to keep up with the required changes to regulatory and reimbursement frameworks. Moreover, the recent saturation of the market with RPM and DCT (Decentralized Clinical Trial) platforms not to mention the myriad of sensors, wearables and peripherals now available makes it harder for healthcare providers and medical researchers to sort through the melee. The winners will be those vendors who have cracked the patient engagement conundrum whilst demonstrating clinician acceptance and demonstrable ROI.
Client Spotlight: Huma
Huma’s regulated Remote Patient Monitoring platform is enabling hospitals to accelerate their transition to digital-first care with confidence. Huma’s expertise in building and deploying Virtual Wards across multiple therapeutic areas has helped NHS Trusts around the UK to double clinical capacity, reduce elective backlogs, and improve patient outcomes and experience.
The Rise of Web3 and Data Liquidity
And last but not least, we have the inexorable move towards Web3 in healthcare, a decentralized and open Web with greater utility for its users, and data liquidity, “the frictionless flow of provably-private self-sovereign health data”. Millions of patient records were illegally accessed, shared, or misused in 2022, highlighting a pressing need for increased cybersecurity. The emerging Health 3.0 paradigm, also referred to as “Ownership Health” – is an extension of the read-write-own concept of Web3 where health and health-relevant data is not only personalized and customized for users but is also controlled by them, allowing individuals the opportunity to benefit economically from transactions involving data about them (eg: for clinical research or population health improvement initiatives).
Client Spotlight: Equideum Health
Equideum Health is building next-generation Web3 infrastructure to support a secure, private data locker for each citizen that improves interoperability between local healthcare providers and resources and enables personalization of health services and ultimately, better health outcomes. Working in conjunction with DHIT (the Digital Health Institute for Transformation) they are developing the Health Utility Grid, a new class of public utility for communities that incentivize health engagement for every citizen. By enabling fine-grained consent for either remunerated or donated analytical use of data at rest, or data exchange, HUGs aim to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and equitable.