10 Emerging Digital Health Trends You Can’t Miss in 2016

The digital health space has emerged as one of the hottest industries in recent years. In 2015, health tech startups raised nearly $5.8 billion in funding, and more than a 1,000 entities made equity investments in at least one digital health company.

This investment surge in digital health is continuing as we advance through 2016, with funding for Q1 2016 reaching $981.3 million, the highest Q1 total since 2011!

Here are the top 10 digital trends that are set to rock the industry in 2016:

1. Growth of Data Science:

Data science will continue to shape the digital health care industry in 2016. There is a rising wave of real-time data coming in from patients via wearables and home diagnostic tests. Integrating out-of-hospital data with medical records can give doctors key insights into patients’ health habits, behavioral patterns and consumption trends, and ultimately yield better outcomes.

Digital health companies will focus on creating data feeds that will assist doctors and patients. Data scientists, analysts and clinicians are going to be in great demand this year.

Is your early stage company building data-focused products?

2. Unusual Collaborations:

All eyes are fixed on the digital health space. Last year, Novartis and Qualcomm launched a $1 billion partnership to invest in “technologies, products or services that ‘go beyond the pill’ to benefit physicians and patients.” This unusual marriage had the digital health industry talking for days!

Many unlikely players, such as corporates and tech giants, are making inroads into health care. Consequently, there is a steady rise of unconventional partnerships, such as IBM with CVS, Google with Novartis and Apple with Epic. 2016 will continue to be the year of unique collaborations.

Is your digital health company open to an innovative partnership?

3. Consumers Become the New Investors:

Digital health is a consumer-driven industry. In 2016, this industry will witness a greater involvement of the consumers – not just as end users, but as investors!

The rise of equity crowdfunding has made it easier for consumers to directly root for the health care solutions that they want to see in the marketplace. In fact, many digital health startups are already turning to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Has your startup tapped into this new group of potential investors – your consumers – yet?

4. FDA Regulation Processes Become More Important:

Recently, a blood-testing startup and brain-training app came under the scanner for being unable to prove the accuracy and effectiveness of their products. Such cases are urging digital health startups to prioritize the pursuit of transparency and adherence to FDA regulations.

As we move further into 2016, health tech startups will look to validate their products and services from the FDA, rather than avoiding the scrutiny of this regulatory body.

Are your products or services FDA and HIPAA compliant?

5. The Rise of the Digital Workforce:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to become a part of everyday health tech vocabulary in 2016! With the potential to reduce the cost of medical treatments by half across the board, AI is already one of the most talked about topics in digital health.

According to Frost & Sullivan, artificial intelligence in health care is set to see a “dramatic market expansion.” They predict that the revenues of artificial intelligence systems would have escalated to $6 billion in 2021, from a modest $600 million in 2014!

“By 2025, AI systems could be involved in everything from population health management, to digital avatars capable of answering specific patient queries,” said Harpreet Singh Buttar, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Is your startup leveraging artificial intelligence to power its health care solutions?

6. Traditional Health Care Organizations Adopt Digital Health:

The verdict is out for all to see – consumers want technology, not outdated solutions! In 2016, we can expect to see an increasing number of traditional health care organizations adopting technology.

This year, an increasing number of established health care players will be willing to play around with technology and replace their redundant infrastructure to stay relevant.

After all, it is a matter of survival in a highly competitive industry.

Do you think this will make it easier for digital health startups to approach health care organizations?

7. Stress on Improved User Experience:

User experience is the key driving force behind any successful tech application. Digital health platforms are no exception! In 2016, we can expect to see considerable advancements in user experience across health care. As a result, there will be a greater demand for UX designers and researchers specializing in health care.

Earlier in 2016, the Healthcare Experience Design Conference also stressed the need to make user-friendly solutions, better designs and easy-to-navigate interfaces the new norm in health tech.

In the words of Ryan Beckland, CEO and co-founder of Validic,

Are your digital health products and services meeting patient expectations?

8. Rise of Smart Wearables:

The wearables segment in digital health has seen a flood of investments. And, this trend is set to continue as we hit mid-2016. In April 2016, for example, Nokia’s acquisition of a French digital health company, Withings, made big headlines

In 2016, state-of-the-art wearable sensors and devices will allow for 24/7 medical monitoring, as they gather and share key data with health care providers.

In addition, the wearables market will display a shift from generic to specific solutions, like diabetes management or blood pressure monitoring devices.

What other key developments will we see in the wearables segment in 2016?

9. More Pills with Sensors:

Smart pills and ingestible sensors are shaking up health care! Indeed, pills with digital sensors and implantable devices are all set to be the latest, non-invasive tools to help collect useful data.

Earlier in 2016, a California hospital became the first in the U.S. to prescribe ingestible sensors from Proteus. Look out for similar widespread adoption of smart medicine in 2016!

Are smart pills ready to be the new normal?

10. Better Senior Support:

This year, there will be a deliberate effort to connect seniors with digital health. Digital health applications will be designed keeping seniors, as well as caregivers, in mind.

One of the key takeaways at the Consumer Electronics Show, in February 2016, was the emergence of solutions to help caregivers provide digitally driven care for their loved ones.

There will also be a push for the remote monitoring of medical devices in 2016. Interestingly, many digital health startups will leverage existing devices, such as TVs and computers, as primary points of engagement with seniors.

Does your startup want to transform health care for seniors?

As the industry matures and time marches on, we’re undoubtedly going to see new trends added to this list. What other key trends will the digital health industry see in 2016?

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