The State of Health Technology in 6 Visuals [Infographic]
The health technology segment is rapidly changing. According to ECRI Institute, which releases an annual list of top technologies to watch in the following year, the health industry is generally shifting towards value-based care. According to Director of Health Assessment at ECRI Institute, Dr. Diane C. Robertson, leaders in the industry are “searching for effective ways to reduce costs while increasing care quality”. And if and when that happens, it will serve as the backdrop of much of health technology for the present and coming years.
A Healthy Synergy
Using the latest technology to improve the state of healthcare just makes sense: we’ve always tried to have our medical care keep pace with the newest developments. And while there will always be contemporary equivalents of snake oil salesmen, the future of health care truly depends on the benefits that only technology can afford.
Make no mistake: these benefits are numerous. Technology allows health records to be accessible from anywhere. It gives people unprecedented control of their own wellbeing. It also provides better information on health and healthcare providers, even in light of bad jokes about earning one’s MD from Google Medical School.
What’s the current state of health technology? And what do we have to look forward to from this emerging sector? We’re glad you asked, and we’ve put together this helpful infographic to help you understand what’s happening here.
The below infographic is based on data and analysis from Venture Scanner, an analyst and technology powered startup research firm. To access the full dataset, visit: https://www.venturescanner.
One Sector, Many Categories
Health technology is more than just WebMD or a faster ultrasound machine. For starters, Apple and Google are firmly on board with their Health and Fit platforms, respectively. There are loads of wearables and apps: consider wellness and fitness bands like Fitbit and Jawbone, plus the plethora of sleep trackers and meditation aids on the market, as well as fitness apps available for download. And then there’s all the data: we’re collecting unprecedented amounts of information about ourselves, and all of that data needs to be stored somewhere secure.
The sector also includes ways to facilitate patient-doctor interactions, for appointments and enquiries, and doctor-doctor interactions, for peer to peer help and advice. And of course, there’s the financial aspect of it all; someone has to pay for all of this care, and it’s all but a given that it won’t be done in cash.
As you can see, health technology goes far beyond symptom websites or the new advanced MRI scanner in your local healthcare facility. They’re part of it, of course, but health technology has much longer reaches.
The IoT Impact
While most healthcare technology needs to be continually managed by people to be of any use, a full quarter of it carries out its functions without much human interaction. That’s because the IoT, or the Internet of Things, is having a growing impact on healthcare, and we’re seeing more and more devices that make the lives and the health of the people who use them much more convenient.
For example, let’s take the Fitbit that’s probably on your wrist right now. Sure, it can track your activity and sleep, and you can use the app to log your food and motivate your friends — that’s all good for your health, but you still need to interact with it on a regular basis.
However, you can sync your Fitbit with, say, your Nest Learning Thermostat for some really helpful features: when you wake up, the temperature in your home might increase automatically, the lights in your hallway might turn on, and your coffee maker might start brewing you a fresh pot of joe.
Again, a full 25% of health technology is firmly in the IoT category. Are these things essential for good health? Probably not. Still, their convenience is a huge selling point, and the mental wellness facet of all this convenience is undeniable.
Where’s the Money?
As we mentioned above, someone’s got to pay for all of this health tech. Sure enough, when it comes to funding by category, health insurance payments leads the way with $58.53 million USD in average funding. However, the second most funded category is human genomics and personalised medicine: things like genomic testing and other genome-based health information.
In fact, those are also the two categories that seem to have the most traction when it comes to bringing in venture capital. As companies like 23AndMe, Horizon Screen, and others are able to provide us with unprecedented information about ourselves at the subcellular level, the demand for that kind of information — and the desire to put money behind it — has gone way up.
Largely American, For Now
While healthcare is a global concern, the overwhelming number of health tech companies — over 700 of them — are located in the United States. Fewer than 30 are in the UK, and about the same number is in Canada, with the rest of the world’s countries combined holding just a handful of health tech innovators.
What’s the explanation for this largely American bias here? One probable answer is that unlike most other nations, citizens of the US do not have access to a nationalised medical program. While President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has partially dampened the capitalistic nature of American healthcare, the system in the US is still very much for profit. As a result, there’s great monetary incentive to create healthcare products and solutions — perhaps more so than in the rest of the world.
Health Technology – A Young Sector
Caring for ourselves physically has been a concern for ages, and recently, caring for our mental health has been on our radar as well. However, the interaction between health and technology, much like digital technology itself, is a relatively new development.
How new is it? Well, the oldest companies in the field have a median age of less than a decade, and many are less than five years old. This has a lot to do with more recent developments in things like BlueTooth functionality, security, and big data. But even things like electronic health records, the category that has the longest average life, has taken several years to truly become viable, as it took a while for different systems to be able to sync with one another and for health care providers to get online with them.
What’s Next For Health Tech?
A bright future is all but certain for health technology: as long as humans are in existence, we’ll need to take care of ourselves, and as long as we keep developing technologically, we’ll use it to help us stay healthy.
As for specifically what we might see, according to a January 2016 article on Healthcare IT News, things like more wearable sensors, better data security measures, improved robotic surgery, mobile stoke units, and more are on the way. Plus, a May 2016 article on Examiner.com talked about the potential for the use of drones in medicine, as they would be helpful for carrying medicine, blood, or even people to where they are needed for survival. The Examiner piece also discussed how 3D printing in the medical industry will continue to evolve — a huge boon to anyone waiting on organ donation.
It will be exciting to watch where the field of health technology goes, but the implications feel especially big here. There’s big potential to save lives here, and there are opportunities for everyday individuals to be more proactive about their health and wellness. Keep your eye on the health technology sector: big things are coming.
Data by Venture Scanner