Up Next for Care-Hacking Startups: Transforming Data into Action

February 24, 2014
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janssen cardiac patient contentFirst published on MedCityNews.com. Digital health futurist Fard Johnmar has a great way of describing the movement under way in consumer health engagement — he calls it care hacking.

janssen cardiac patient contentFirst published on MedCityNews.com. Digital health futurist Fard Johnmar has a great way of describing the movement under way in consumer health engagement — he calls it care hacking.

In a webinar last Wednesday hosted by personal health record startup Dossia, Fard described how consumers’ turning to the web and other digital sources (like apps or personal health records) to guide their own care or someone else’s could revolutionize the healthcare industry.

Johnmar, who runs a consultancy called Enspektos LLC and co-wrote a book called ePatient 2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Health Care, said that leveraging the care hacking movement to its full potential requires a three-step approach for the healthcare industry: Gathering patient data, extracting insights from it and using the insights to deploy personalized interventions.

While some startups like Ginger.io and Validics have garnered a lot of attention in this space, most startups don’t have the resources needed to address all three of those layers, he said.

“A lot of companies are trying to conquer pieces of it,” he explained. “There are challenges with interoperability and from the funding perspective […] and also not having linkages to institutions or payers that will allow them to leverage their data sets.”

But because employers and payers are now aggressively thinking about consumer engagement, there are still plenty of opportunities for startups: “One strategy is to get acquired; that’s where I see things going in the short-term,” he said.

He equated the near future of this market to what’s happening in the wearable device market, where a transition is occurring from a bunch of devices that do slightly different things to a push for more comprehensive devices that can collect multiple kinds of data at once. Similarly, different pieces of the care hacking trifecta – data collection, insight and intervention – will come together to create more comprehensive solutions.

Industry analysts, too, have predicted more digital health M&A this year, as venture funding for the sector reached its highest level yet last year. One example that that’s already starting to happen is UnitedHealth’s buying a majority stake in Audax Health, which works with insurers to provide a wellness and rewards platform to members. Welltok hasn’t been acquired, but it did strike a partnership with IBM’s Watson Business Group to use Watson’s cognitive computing intelligence in its CafeWell platform. It also received an investment from the company as part of a $22.1 million Series C. Welltok works with payers, health systems and ACOs to provide personalized health and wellness content to their members.

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