Is mHealth worth your venture capital investment?
Some analysts are predicting another big year for venture capital investment in digital health. One of the reasons fueling growth in this sector is that so many Americans are already using wearable devices that can be enhanced for health care applications. There are also indicators that this market is not a bubble. All of which begs the question: is your money in digital health yet?
Last year, digital health startups fared very well in attracting venture capital. This year their fortunes may be even greater, at least according to Anne Zieger in her article “Digital health should see major VC investments in 2015,” published at Nuviun.com.
RELATED TOPIC: The Complicated, Evolving World of mHealth
If you think that investment in digital health is limited to supporting startups selling ideas for apps, you’re wrong. According to Zieger there are at least four other markets within digital health: “According to research by Mercom Capital Group, consumer-focused technologies took in 65% of all VC investment in Q3 of 2014, including $345 million in mobile health deals and $101 million in telehealth funding. VC firms also invested $85 million in personal health firms, $70 million in social health companies, and $23 million for tech supporting medical scheduling, rating and shopping. These investments are up sharply from 2013, and should shoot up again in 2015 unless something dramatic happens to dampen investors’ enthusiasm.”
Some VC firms have neglected opportunities in digital health because of the fear that overinvestment in mHealth may create a bubble that abruptly pops in the near future. Zieger explains why this opportunity is different: “But there’s a big difference between these times and the dotcom bust in 2000. While startups and investors were trialing creative concepts on the web—often with little attention to controlling their burn rate or even defining their customer base—today’s crop of entrepreneurs are largely working on real, well-defined business models.”
RELATED TOPIC: TOP 10: mHealth Apps for Android and iOS of 2015
Another reason to feel good about investing in mHealth is the investment in mobile health that’s already happening among consumers: “Also, with clinicians, payers, employers and patients adopting mHealth/connected health technologies, and even investing in companies that create digital health technology, it seems clear that demand for digital health innovations will remain in force—and that’ll keep VCs interested,” argues Zieger.
So, considering the landscape, is digital health the investment you’ve been waiting for?
Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!