Observations made in 2015 have helped us in speculating about what will happen in 2016. This post from Forbes has put together thirteen healthcare trends predicted for the coming year.
This year, we’ve seen dramatic developments in the movement to transform healthcare. Finally, there’s progress in the fight against chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes. Many payers and providers are working to reinvent themselves and realize that healthcare reform is here to stay. The digital health ecosystem has hit its stride, becoming a significant part of the healthcare economy. The future’s bright, but there’s much work to be done. With 2015 giving some hints of what’s to come, here are 13 healthcare predictions for 2016:
1. A second wave of digital health disruption hits
Wearables, nearables, apps and digital diagnostics will start to leverage the streams of health data made possible by the connected consumer to create powerful health platforms that move beyond trendy apps and trackers. Vertical and point-solutions have paved the way for more robust horizontal innovations that will deliver proven outcomes with compelling business models. If you’re going to compete in 2016, the price of admission just went up.
2. Less logjams, more moonshots
In 1964 John F Kennedy inspired the world with his moonshot speech. We’ve already seen President Obama make a call for personalized medicine, and Vice President Joe Biden is organizing a moonshot to end cancer. In 2016, we will see our leaders in both the private and public sector launch bold missions rethinking what’s possible in healthcare. Strong leadership will inspire the world to think bigger again about our health and wellbeing.
3. Rise of the Maker Movement will customize health
The maker-movement underlying successful companies like Etsy will become a new business model and usher in a new type of innovator:Healthcare Creators. Thanks to advances in 3D printing, material science, virtual reality, Healthkit and Researchkit, personalized products such as casts, prosthetics, wearables, and a variety of patient-designed solutions will be made to order using software and printed at home. A category of DIY inventions will become available as thousands (and soon millions) of people start to make niche health and wellness products, creating new challenges for regulators who will need to keep pace with the scale and pace of customized health.
4. The Leapfrog Effect materializes in underserved markets
In this column, I have repeatedly discussed the idea of the “leapfrog effect,” or the idea that low-tech solutions developed in resource poor countries will eventually replace outdated and clunky technology deeply entrenched in the healthcare systems of the US and Europe. In 2016, we’ll start to see case studies coming out of Africa, India and South America that clearly demonstrate the potential of leapfrog innovation.
5. Artificial intelligence (AI) finds purpose in healthcare
Startups focusing on artificial intelligence will burst into view. IBM’s Watson made a splash in 2015, and catalyzed the concept of AI in healthcare. In 2016, these innovations will move out of the lab and into the spotlight.
6. Digital health = health
In healthcare, there are industry siloes like health IT, med-device, biotech, life sciences, consumer health and wellness. More and more these sectors will collide as biotech companies become data companies, the enterprise becomes consumerized, and digital integrates into everything. The idea of a “digital health” company will expand to encompass the cross pollination of biotech and life sciences, often with computer science and the consumer at the core. We’ll see more healthcare ‘mashups’.
7. Growing experimentation with ‘healthbots’
The New York Times recently ran a story about using robots as health aids for the elderly. Increasingly, people are opening up to the idea that robots and drones can be used as a force for good in healthcare. As the aging population grows, so too will the use of robotic health aids or ‘healthbots’.
8. Short-term innovation programs give way to the healthcare marathon
Rock Health isn’t the only one that “killed” its accelerator program. Short-term accelerators like Healthbox and DreamIt have also changed their models. As the market matures, many of the dozens of new healthcare focused accelerators with an emphasis placed on “the launch” will evolve as the industry looks to support startups focused on long-term sustainability, proven outcomes and leap-forward solutions.
9. Unlikely marriages in healthcare become the norm
This past year, we saw Novartis and Qualcomm launch a $1 billion partnership. StartUp Health, the company I co-founded, partnered withAurora Healthcare, GE and Finland to build healthcare startups. Over the next 12 months we’ll see dozens of unique collaborations. Will companies like Uber team up with hospitals to deliver door-to-door care? It wouldn’t surprise me to see Apple team up with Medtronic, or Facebook partner with ZocDoc. In 2016 there are no odd couples in healthcare.
10. New entrants stake their claim in healthcare
In 2016, the line between “consumer” and “healthcare” companies will continue to blur. A wide variety of companies will try their hand in the healthcare space (not just health and wellness). An increasing number of retails stores will start muscling into traditional services previously only offered at hospitals (think: Walgreens and Walmart). Consumer companies will start ramping up their biotech and healthcare offerings (think: Nestle, Under Armour and Nike). Professional sports brands will offer healthcare services (think: The NFL launching brain science clinics or pro football teams partnering with hospitals to create specialized surgery centers).
11. Silicon Valley gets smart about the FDA
Blood diagnostic company Theranos was hit hard this year with allegations of corporate secrecy and FDA violations. The genetic testing company 23andMe survived two years of darkness after a tangle with the FDA. Moving forward, these high-profile examples will serve as case studies on the importance of transparency and the regulatory process. More boards, investors and startups will treat the regulatory process as a strategic imperative from inception.
12. Consumers become the new angel investors
Today, we live in a Shark Tank and AngelList-era, where consumers become potential investors. Using tools like Indiegogo, consumers will increasingly directly support the healthcare solutions they want to see on the market.
13. Digital health goes mainstream
For the last five years, digital health companies have stormed the gates of the healthcare establishment often struggling just to get a meeting. In 2016, the massive players will be less risk averse, and willing to experiment with new technology solutions that replace their outdated infrastructure established decades ago. Those organizations without a transformer mindset will be left behind.