When looking at the telemedicine and eHealth sector (a sector where the ICT market addresses the needs of healthcare), we can see that significant investments from the last couple of years have been made within several specific sub-areas. Within the U.S. itself, eHealth investments exceeded $4 billion in 2014.
The origins of eHealth are primarily the digitization of medical data and supporting complex administrations in large hospitals. Over the years, a number of systems have been developed and launched, including HIS, RIS, PACS and HER. Today they are the basis for the functioning of the health sector. In recent times, however, there have been a ton of new and interesting solutions that compliment this foundation of ICT solutions in medicine. An analysis of the investment that has taken place over the past year allows us to identify some of the most interesting and the most promising segments in which the SaaS solutions excel.
Big data and analytics
The first area that is being supported by investors is big data and analytics. Medical records that have been gathered for years now allow for advanced, cross-sectional analyses that provide previously inaccessible knowledge. There is still a shortage of big data specialists on the market with practical experience, so any new solution is met with interest by investors. A very interesting example is Flatiron Health, which advertises itself with the slogan “fighting cancer with organized data”. Flatiron acquired $130 million in funding last year from the Google investment fund, among others. The interdisciplinary team set a goal to develop a data cloud connecting oncological medical units throughout the world. The solution provides dedicated tools and information useful for cancer patients, doctors and scientists. At present, this platform is used by over 200 specialized clinics.
Personal & enterprise wellness
Recent years have seen lots of wearable technologies and integrated tools for the simplified monitoring of health conditions. Although these solutions are very simple in their design and are based on simple MEMS sensors, constructing the appropriate device along with a user-friendly mobile app is not so easy. If the user wants to receive fairly reliable information, they should wear that gadget 24 hours a day. Even the slightest underdeveloped or unnerving detail and the product simply may not be accepted well on the market. However, SaaS solutions have stormed that niche last year too, as evidenced by a $300 million investment for Jawbone and $40 million for Misfit – companies that offer wearables recording our activity. Virgin has made a similar scale of investment into developing a new product: VirginPulse. Its main objective is to activate and monitor the health of corporate employees. The product is dedicated to corporations identifying with the Enterprise Wellness trend, which has become very fashionable recently.
Many sources report that about 75% of the total cost of health care spending is associated with chronic diseases. The most common examples are asthma, hypertension, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Most of these diseases are strongly correlated with lifestyle and a lack of diligence in compliance with medical recommendations.
Lately many products have been established to facilitate the systematic fight against these diseases, but the most distinctive example is most likely the Proteus Discover. This system, presented by Proteus Digital Health, allows for the monitoring of key factors associated with chronic illnesses. It allows the doctor to customize a personalized treatment program on a regular basis. The key element of this product, however, is an innovative method for controlling the use of medication via a miniature sensor glued to the stomach. Last year, Proteus Digital Health raised $172m from investors.
Another sought-after solution is a product developed by the company Propeller Health. Their tool is dedicated to patients struggling with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (a $14 million investment). One of the key factors in the fight against these diseases is accurate monitoring of the frequency of inhaler use. The proposed solution will automatically record each use, producing a clear log of disease severity. In addition, the system has a function for locating the patient, thereby increasing their safety. According to available data, the cost of treating asthma and COPD exceeds $100 billion annually, which only highlights how big the problem is.
In conclusion, the eHealth sector has never been better. These few investments will certainly convince other, still hesitant investors that the market is ready for these types of solutions. In addition, skeptical comments related to the security of online health management are a thing of the past. The above-mentioned products are based on a SaaS model and confirm that the present generation expects this kind of technology.
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