Digital health was front and center at the annual JP Morgan Conference this month, with medtech majors investing heavily in the sector, plus, explorations of barriers to adopting AI in quality assurance, risk-sharing in telehealth, and at least one well-known health system looking to invest in digital health.
Here are some highlights:
- The CEOs of Abbott, BD and Quidel detailed their companies’ involvement with digital, with Abbott’s Robert B. Ford showcasing the BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen test that the company paired with an app “to provide that kind of direct experience where somebody could buy the test and then also get their pass on their phone.”
- BD CEO Tom Polen said his firm sees digital as a competitive advantage – and a key driver of innovation and growth. BD's acquisition last month of Scanwell Health "advances our focus on enabling new care settings and accelerates smart connected care through smartphone-enabled at-home diagnostic tests."
- For Quidel, CEO Doug Bryant said that although digital health isn’t something the company talks much about, “nevertheless, we have been spending a great deal of time on it." The company is looking for near-term opportunities to expand into the consumer use market beyond COVID-19, Bryant said.
- Although AI and machine learning promise widespread benefits in healthcare, there is a need for a comprehensive framework for safely and responsibly introducing the technology, according to a new study in Nature’s NPJ Digital Medicine.
- A few virtual care companies are inking risk-sharing contracts, betting that embracing risk could endear them to the health plans and employers they depend on. Companies such as Heartbeat Health and Teladoc are in the very early stages of cementing these contracts.
- Mass General Brigham is putting the bulk of its growth investments in two buckets: Cutting-edge research into “big bet” areas with commercialization potential, such as gene and cell therapy; and virtual care, digital tools and novel care models.
For our part, a highlight of the conference was another installation of our Digital Health C-Suite Series
with our friends at HealthXL, called “The Holy Grail of Digital Health: Scaling Patient and Clinician Adoption.”
Our session’s presenters – Lilly Biomedicines’ Head of Digital Health Kirk Keaffaber; Ritesh Patel, senior partner for global digital health at FINN Partners; and Chandana Fitzgerald, HealthXL’s GM & chief medical officer – offered valuable insights and lessons from their digital adoption experience. Here are a few key takeaways from our discussion of the challenges facing life science companies that are adopting digital:
- Complexity of scale: Scaling digital health products is one of the biggest barriers to success for digital biopharma leaders today. Our experts shared the importance of building an ecosystem of partners, including technology companies, patient advocacy groups and provider groups and health systems. For patient-facing digital health apps or devices, partnering with advocacy groups and patients early on allows you to test your digital solution or app, and can be hugely beneficial in uncovering human factors insights to understand what will really be useful for patients.
- It’s all about starting with an MVP: Release earlier versions of your digital health products sooner to generate evidence and drive partnerships. Releasing earlier versions to patient advocacy groups and even internal employees to trial and test the solution is another effective way to gain insights.
- Engaging physicians is critical: The most common way for a patient to utilize a digital health solution is if it is recommended by their doctor, making it imperative to engage with the provider community as soon as you can.
Finally, we announced during the conference a partnership with Sanofi to bring to market a next-generation digital companion app for one of Sanofi’s most important treatments. The BrightInsight® Platform will serve as the underlying infrastructure to accelerate continuous development of one of Sanofi’s best-in-class Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) solutions.
Leveraging our BrightInsight Platform, the new app will support patients from therapy onboarding to chronic disease management via a patient mobile app that integrates with third-party systems in a connected ecosystem. Users will be able to manage their complex conditions with custom profiles and content, and step-by-step therapy administration guidance.
Thank you to everyone who shared our news about Sanofi and to those who attended our virtual Digital Health C-Suite Series discussion. We hope to see you all in person at JPM 2023!