A digital disruption of the healthcare sector - Part II
To recap, in Part I of this blog post I reviewed how inefficient the healthcare sector today is and provided an overview of the specific areas that are ripe for disruption.
In this second and concluding part I’ll reveal some of the companies who are redefining the sector and what tools they’ve brought to market to transform the digital patient journey. From prevention to detection, to treatment and monitoring, the digital health space is very broad. After months of research we’ve only just scratched the surface and that’s what makes the sector so interesting for me. Healthcare as we know it has entered a real revolution which is super exciting, so here’s my pick of the subsectors, the innovations and pioneers leading the change.
There’s almost an infinite number of health-related consumer apps on the market, spanning a broad range of subsectors: general wellness, fitness, sleep, fertility, DNA, microbiome, nutrition. Often, they are matched with a relatively low-cost hardware device or testing kit.
Digital health is promoting the move to a more preventative focus, rather than a treatment-led approach to patients. I am thrilled by the prospect of people having the power to manage their own health and be in control of their health data.
Application – Cancer
“Research suggests that only five percent of cancers are hereditary. That means the non-inherited causes of cancer — the lifestyle choices we make, the foods we eat, and our physical activity levels — have a direct impact on our overall cancer risk” (1) it’s truly inspiring to think of the positive consequences on lives, public spending and the pressures on the sector if we were able to reduce cancer cases, simply by using apps on our phones.
Application - Fertility
“Around 1 in 7 couples globally have difficulty conceiving: this is 3.5 million people in the UK(2).” Fertility solutions and femtech in general presents a huge opportunity. It’s an intricate subsector which has been navigating many lifestyle trends including better awareness of conditions, the confidence to discuss problems and cultural shifts like more women choosing to have a family in their late thirties or forties.
Every human is intrinsically a little lazy. Despite the current growing trends on prevention, incorporating a B2B2C strategy is advised, ensuring lower CAC.
The testing itself will get commoditised. It’s the insights and recommendations that are extracted from raw data that present the real monetisation opportunity.
Consumer Wearables and Connected Sensors
This category sometimes overlaps with the Consumer Apps, but I interpret it as less preventative and more focussed on tracking metrics in the post-diagnostics stage.
These devices tackle the important issue of distance from point of care and address the real need of patients to be monitored post diagnosis. They are definitely in the painkiller/must-have category rather than in vitamins/nice-to-have one.
Tech giants e.g Apple with their newly FDA-approved heartbeat tracking watch need to be monitored closely
Also, the space is crowded with incumbent medical device companies holding significant market share and with deep pockets (Roche, etc.)
Patent your device. Build a defensible software around it. Avoid the word “hardware” at all costs in VC conversations
Patient Information Collection Tools
Clinical trials are costly and it’s extremely difficult to find the correct sample of patients. It is also a must-have in the industry because clinical trials obviously contribute towards finding a cure to serious illnesses.
The use and protection of data is a delicate matter. Some platforms are focussed on giving data back in the hands of patients, who receive a “salary” for disclosing their personal metrics to pharma groups
Telemedicine and Digital Hospitals
Telemedicine is obviously revolutionary, given the average time to get an appointment with a GP in the UK can be in the weeks’ range.
These platforms solve the distance from point of care issue and increase time efficiency and revenue for doctors. The primary care sector has been historically very well-funded, while the platforms for secondary care (generalists and specialists) will present a great opportunity for venture capitalists (hello high AOV!).
Have always a patient-first approach. This represents the real treatment stage, and there’s no margin for mistakes
Connected Virtual Assistants
We all know Amazon Echo, Google Home etc. The sector is risky for young start-ups and crowded with powerful tech incumbents. Google is also planning to serve seniors through Nest, helping them to live independently or as long as possible.
However, there are new types of assistants that are emerging in the market and represent an exciting opportunity:
Gamified fitness products that fit into the wellness space
Powerful machine learning software aiding doctors in detecting cancer and abnormal cells
These companies help overcome the fragmentation of health information, which can affect patients’ care when it leads to lack of communication and coordination. More information leads to more accurate therapies which can be tailored to each individual and contribute to a patient-centric system. In addition, given the data sensitivity issue, there is perfect applicability for blockchain projects.
A few of these companies are: Doc.ai, which allows individuals to collect and own all their health data onto their platform, Repositive, which holds the biggest collection of cancer models in the world, and Shivom.io, whose intent is developing the world’s largest DNA data and healthcare services platform powered by blockchain technology.
The digital patient journey is complex and touches many verticals not covered in this blog series. There are workflow collaboration tools, innovations in the healthcare insurance space, respiratory care, diabetes management, and many more sub-verticals we’ve been exploring.
Traditional healthcare is being disrupted at each point of the value chain and whilst there will be winners and losers, I’m excited to be part of the process and watch closely how technology will bring more efficiency, increased accuracy in diagnosis, better treatment and quality of life for patients worldwide.
Keen to hear more of our research in this space?
Join us on 16 May for our half day Digital Health Summit hosted at Illuminate, Science Museum.
Beatrice Aliprandi - Senior Analyst - @bealiprandi
Beatrice joined Talis Capital in 2018 after spending three years working at Jefferies in their Investment Banking division, where she has been involved in several transactions primarily in the Technology, Media and Telecoms space with a combined value of c.$4 billion.
Beatrice holds a MSc in Risk and Finance from The London School of Economics and a BSc in Business Administration from Bocconi University. She speaks three languages and loves travelling, mindful meditation and wine tasting.
(1) Prevent Cancer Foundation: https://preventcancer.org/education/preventable-cancers/
(2) NHS Website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/
(3) CB Insight: The Future Of Clinical Trials: How AI & Big Tech Could Make Drug Development Cheaper, Faster, & More Effective