Digital health is a marriage of medical entrepreneurs and tech superstars

It isn't enough to have a team of tech savants or one made up of strictly businesspeople with digital health experience.

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Power brokers in the fields of tech and healthcare entrepreneurship must work together to discover the truest innovations.

Digital health entrepreneurs are in the catbird seat as we march toward a tech-focused future. These businesspeople have an opportunity to launch products and services to solve one of the most complex and burdensome problems facing our nation: The cost of healthcare.

Costs are higher and outcomes worse than almost all analysis of the industry suggest should occur, according to David M. Cutler of Harvard University. “In other industries characterized by inefficiency, efficient firms expand to take over the market, or new firms enter to eliminate inefficiencies,” Cutler explains. “This has not happened in medical care, however.”

The United States' healthcare system is one of the main driver of the country's deficit at the local, state and federal levels. The U.S. government wastes $1 trillion on healthcare per year. Employers spend $620 billion for employee healthcare benefits.

It's clear that digital healthcare services are prime sources of revenue for entrepreneurs. Any sort of breakthrough approach or trailblazing product/service has the potential to generate massive revenue.

Key in on a rock-solid revenue model for your digital health service

Many industry experts argue that constructing a revenue model is just as important as the actual digital healthcare product or service. Plenty of healthcare providers have thin margins that do not allow them to shell out the money for software. Yet “freemium” models still have the potential to work. Keep in mind that there is a growing push for the socialization of healthcare.

Consider the success of electronic medical records (EMR) provided to physicians over the previous few of years. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, as of 2015, 87% of office-based physicians had adopted electronic health records (EHR), 78% had adopted a certified EHR and over 54% adopted a "basic EHR."

office based electronic health record adoption Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Factor in government incentives, monetization options and other factors before devoting yourself to a specific product or service. Once you have a foolproof revenue model with specific client/customer personas identified, the foundation is set to proceed with the actual service/product development and delivery.

Digital health solutions to reduce costs

There is mounting pressure for the industry and consumers to reduce healthcare costs. Entrepreneurs who figure out ways to heighten revenue and deliver healthcare products or services in a low-cost, streamlined manner will emerge as winners.

“There’s a lot of outdated technology and processes in healthcare that can be made much more efficient and cost effective,” said Hoala Greevy, founder and CEO of Paubox, an email encryption provider for HIPAA compliance. “Even something like email can be put to better use and improve workflows if you have the right technology in place to make it useable in healthcare.”

Digital health solutions that integrate with the current structure, but simplify workflows and processes will prove quite successful in the decades to come.

Leverage customers

Customers are now empowered to steer healthcare-related decisions. Advancements in technology have democratized healthcare along with many other aspects of our society. People are now empowered to engage in the management of their health and fitness with monitoring tools like MyFitnessPal, smartwatches, fitness trackers and beyond.

For instance, MyFitnessPal is a digital health device that counts calories and your level of physical activity. It has been a raging success, helping people lose weight and tone their muscles.

Additionally, specialized technologies are being developed to go beyond the typical vitals and activity tracking. Contributing writer at Healthcare IT News, Marc Sebes reveals how new mobile health innovations, “now make it possible for a person to self-evaluate his or her genetic makeup, blood chemistry, hydration levels, brain activity and even sunlight exposure.”

Needless to say, these is the type of successful digital health products entrepreneurs should attempt to replicate.

Improving outdated systems

Digital health entrepreneurs who figure out how to implement contemporary technology to unlock healthcare data mired in silos that are trapped in antiquated systems will make life easier for everyone. From cloud computing to open API interfaces and other cutting edge tech solutions, there are all sorts of ways to use digital health tools to improve healthcare challenges.

Some companies like HealthCatalyst (that generated a $70 million series E last year) are constructing interfaces that access such locked systems and consequently create all sorts of business opportunities.

Key in on tech's connection with humanity

All patient care solutions should be human-oriented. Though your digital health service might not prove to be as people-oriented as one of the seemingly ubiquitous social media darlings, it should still have a social side.

Look for a means of engaging customers with fellow product or service users so they stay connected with your creation. This is the best way to retain customers and heighten revenue across posterity.

Power brokers in the fields of tech and healthcare entrepreneurship must work hand-in-hand to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Experience in both realms is vitally important to creating a unique product or service that plays an important role in the digital health arena.

It isn't enough to have a team of tech savants or one made up of strictly businesspeople with digital health experience. Knowledge of U.S. healthcare rules, provider dynamics, policy framework and the nuances of tech, all play a role in the success of business endeavors.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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