Healthcare Trends

VC firms have a lot to gain from the hype and usually churn out marketing fluff. The hype words are a constant fixture in their dictionary.

That’s why I was surprised to see something worthwhile from AH under their “time to heal” series. Again, there’s a lot of hype and marketing fluff, but there are broad contours that can’t be ignored.

Patient data moves beyond the EHR. We’re finally at a tipping point where patient data generated outside of traditional electronic health records (EHRs) will be more valuable than the data generated within it. At-home diagnostics, virtual care clinics, patient-reported outcomes, remote patient monitoring, social determinants… all of these contribute to a more holistic and longitudinal understanding of patients’ health, which in turn will lead to more precise clinical research for drug development, better underwriting of risk for value-based care, and much more. Perhaps the biggest opportunity is flipping the entire care delivery paradigm on its head: emerging virtual-first care models that utilize these continuous data streams can take us from a reliance to patients initiating an encounter, to truly meeting patients where they are, on their terms.

It won’t be possible. For once, the monopolistic tendencies of the big EMR firms will simply kill off any innovation that may happen outside the EMR. The author is completely oblivious of the massive troves of heterogenous data that will simply refuse to play good with the API’s.

Here’s another interesting trend:

Clinical trials (finally) go digital—with FDA support. Clinical trials must be rigorous, to ensure the safety and efficacy of new therapeutics. But current clinical trial processes are still weighed down by “clipboard culture”, and have been widely viewed by investigators, sponsors, patients, and even regulators as ripe for disruption by software. Adoption of technology to modernize clinical trials was already accelerating prior to the pandemic: over 1100 clinical trials initiated in 2018 included use of a connected digital product in the protocol. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend dramatically. This year the FDA issued guidance allowing some clinical outcome assessments to be conducted remotely, or via telehealth. Many more aspects of clinical trial design and execution will be streamlined by software, including screening, consent, data capture, and patient engagement. Say farewell to the clipboards, and hello to cheaper clinical trials that include more sites and get new therapies to patients faster.

I had proposed a modular approach to the EHR that would have sped up the clinical trials. It was apparent that the cloud based-first approach wasn’t palatable to most as it would have eliminated the “clumsy software” right out of the bat. It didn’t work out (including as my proposal for a PhD) but that’s another story.

In this scenario, missing out the preventive and the palliative care is more of an omission. Preventive healthcare doesn’t attract dollars. Palliative and best supportive care have now become an anathema to “modern healthcare”- there is no money to be made from it either.