Global Practices

Living in a Digital Health World



Living in San Francisco, it seems like everyone either launched or works for a startup company. With more than 59 percent of U.S. adults turning to the internet for health information, it is no surprise that digital health startups are particularly booming as technology has dramatically changed the way we manage and perceive our overall health.

I recently attended the Health 2.0 Annual Conference in San Francisco, which took place from October 7 – 10. It brought together nearly 2,000 people from all over the world to learn more about how innovation is transforming health. From entrepreneurs launching a new mobile app to academics presenting health trends from data gathered on Twitter, the excitement for digital health was palpable. From session to session, everyone was talking about harnessing big data, the impact of health care reform or the next disruptive emerging trend.

What many people don’t realize is that digital health is much broader than just social networking or mobile apps that track calories, exercise and even sleep:  it is what many industry insiders call a critical component to the future of healthcare. The industry is looking to digital health to help lower cost, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and empower patients to turn knowledge into action – and investors are paying attention.

While many venture capitalists are shying away from biotech and life sciences because of the time it takes to develop and launch a product – not to mention strict regulatory demands – more than $1.08 billion has been invested in digital health startups so far this year. According to a recent report from Rock Health, a digital health incubator in San Francisco, this is a 70 percent growth over the third quarter last year.

So what does this mean to the healthcare industry? Traditional health companies across the spectrum, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device companies and health providers, are looking to partner and integrate digital health as part of their infrastructures.  However, there is a great need for collaboration among researchers, technology developers and key opinion leaders to realize the huge potential of implementing digital health across the industry. I, for one, am very excited to see digital health go from innovative to disruptive and transform how healthcare is done.

Jennifer Chan is an account supervisor  for Edelman San Francisco, Health. She is also co-lead for the Health 2.0 SF Chapter. You can follow Jennifer at @j_chan03 or check out Bay Area health tech news at @health2conSF.

Photo Credit to San Fran Chapter of Health2.0

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