Healthcare is coming to your home.
Beyond the return of the house call (although that’s part of it), technology, regulations and consumer expectations are converging to shake up the entire healthcare ecosystem by moving the epicenter of health from institutions to individuals.
This is a really big deal, because it will lower the barriers to health engagement.
Think about before the internet; if you wanted information, you went to libraries. You needed to know where to look, what to ask, and how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System. You arduously scrolled through microfiche. Getting to the world’s information was kind of a pain, so most of us only did it when we had to.
Today, if you want to know information about your health, information is also hard to access. It’s written in language that doesn’t make sense, and uses technology that is arduous. Knowing information about your body and yourself is kind of a pain, so most of us only engage when we have to.
That is poised to change. With the ability to engage with health from the comfort of your home, engagement will only be limited by the extent of your questions. Wondering if you are getting a cold will feel as antiquated as getting lost without a GPS.
Change in healthcare is hard
So why hasn’t this shift happened already? The complexity of the healthcare ecosystem and simple fact that healthcare can be life-or-death makes innovation notoriously hard. Despite these challenges, changes are happening within the current ecosystem that promote this shift in the epicenter of health.
More fundamentally, the structural impediments that inhibit health change — it’s forbidden, it’s slow, it’s expensive, it’s silo-ed — are shifting (or being side-stepped) to lay the foundation for new types of consumer value that can be delivered by both new and existing players.
Start-ups are accelerating the shift
The health start-up market is still very active. 2015 saw $4.5Bn invested in digital health, up 19% over 2014’s record breaking year. (source: Rock Health)
New players are looking for ways to create health experiences that better serve their end users, spurred by factors like ACA requirements, the rise of mobility, the rapid democratization of industries, and the fall in sensor, storage and processing costs.
Within this landscape, activity around Telehealth, wearables, home health devices, and even direct delivery services is accelerating, shifting the nexus of health to the home. For these players, usability and user centered design is table stakes and value comes from delivering new consumer benefits.
Looking at patterns across in the specific value propositions of individual start-ups, we see three key consumer benefits that new entrants are delivering to people.
Tools that let people know, understand and do more at home.
Capabilities that were once only available at the doctor or lab are coming into people’s homes. From measuring glucose, to sleep tracking, to home insemination, startups make technology accessible and usable so you no longer need specialty equipment or a degree to use them.
Owelet Smart Sock is a sock that monitors infant heart rate and oxygen levels. The sock alerts to phones and an in-home station if the baby stops breathing.
Information catered to people’s specific needs and questions.
Although the grapefruit diet worked for someone, it doesn’t work for most people. What healthy means to me is a combination of genomics, medical and lifestyle data. Startups are focused on helping people look deeper into themselves to create their own definition of healthy that merges the biological with the contextual.
bLife enables self and peer assessment to evaluate and improve emotional and mental health. Biomarker testing is coming soon to understand how stress affects the body
Interactions that bring expertise to people’s homes.
Getting a holistic picture of personal health is challenging since lifestyle data and clinical information are often siloed from each other. Start ups are lowering the barriers between life and health by integrating sensors into things we use daily, putting doctors at our fingertips, and simplifying pricing and language that often stands in the way of getting care.
Ginger.io connects users to coaches the same way people communicate with friends. The app enables users to utilize self care tools and connect with professionals as needed.
Together, these benefits enable people to engage with their health in a new, more intuitive way, and lay the foundation for a radical change in our relationships with our bodies and our health.
Much like the internet opens access to the world, this shift will open access to our health so we can ask the simple questions that matter, and let our curiosity drive us to learn and appreciate more about that bodies we’re in.
Change brings new opportunity to deliver value
We are in the early stages of these shifts. Many of the ways these benefits are currently delivered are still fussy, with narrow use cases and niche audiences, but this doesn’t mean change isn’t coming. By exploring the way consumer benefits could combine we find new areas of opportunity with implications across the healthcare ecosystem.
Personalized health research
Expand what and how people learn about their health by supporting collection and interpretation of data in personally meaningful ways.
This could mean…
- A new set of consumer-facing health and wellness tools that help people learn more about their health and and create customized wellness strategies.
- As people create more data, new analyses and algorithms will let providers and payers create personalized offerings that better meet the needs, wants and risks of individuals.
- Aggregating personal data creates opportunities for medical research that includes the realities of real life (e.g., sample, adherence, context) and is open for more people and institutions to analyze.
- The highly engaged will be able to go further with their learning and abilities, creating new ways for people to become an expert and represent expertise. The MOOCs of the future might delve into new specialties, and perhaps recognize the knowledge of these amateur experts.
Deliver what people want, when they want it through 24–7 access to experts, products and information.
This could mean…
- A continuing evolution on types of provider access to support the timing, specialties and presence people want from health providers. This creates new roles for both a global and hyper-local network of providers available to patients .
- On-demand care supported by remote providers will require devices and services to collect and share information that is meaningful both to the patients and medical professionals.
- With new networks of providers and types of “visits”, there will be a new role for establishing that services are legitimate and valuable to consumers and payers.
- Supporting ad-hoc and on-demand needs will require intermediaries with business models that let individuals and health professionals rent, share, and access tools for the short term to get information without overhead.
The ubiquitous health layer
Blend health information and activities into existing day-to-day decisions to make it easier to achieve healthy outcomes.
This could mean…
- With more and more health data generated, devices and ingestibles will need to work in the background and push information only when it’s relevant and important will help people and professionals prioritize their time and attention.
- People will frame health information in ways that are meaningful to them by utilizing APIs that allow for health data to overlay everything from calendars to photos.
- As health is viewed in the context of life, people will face more holistic decision making about how they spend their time and money. Retailers will support this integrated thinking through inventory, organization and business models that support people’s values and goals.