Digital health funding smashes expectations, hits $1.62bn in Q1
A report by Rock Health has highlighted how the growth of digital health continues to accelerate rapidly, as the healthcare industry continues to evolve.
The implementation of new digital tools and solutions has seen funding smash last year’s figures at $1.62bn for this year’s Q1 in 77 deals. This time last year, deals made up $1.41bn, showcasing a significant rise. The report has also found that the average deal size has also risen from $21mn, from £16mn last year.
In this year so far, Heartflow has raised $240mn in a Series E funding round, whereas genetics start-up company Helix has amassed $200mn. Additionally, Collective Health has acquired $110mn to expand the development of its patient centered solutions for its workforce.
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Whilst digital diagnostic solutions gained the most funding, disease monitoring gained the most deals out of any other category at $270mn. Thirdly, the rise of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes has led to significant investment in this space, with start-ups keen to gain significant market share. Consumer Health Information technologies and services, however, are not far behind, totalling $267mn in recent deals.
“We continue to see digital health start ups both tackling the clinical aspects of care (Diagnosis of Disease, Monitoring of Disease) and reducing friction between patients and the healthcare system (Health Benefits Administration, On-Demand Healthcare Services),” the report has explained.
The establishment of a new Center of Excellence on Digital Health, unveiled by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, is set to further drive patient engagement and the demand for digital health solutions. To this end, the FDA are set to develop a Pre-Certification Pilot Program to support the industry in tackling some of its most important challenges.
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.