There is a saying that if you follow the money, you will spot what is on the horizon. Without a doubt, digital health is within our visual sphere. Digital Health Companies have an abundance of funding, and biosensor development seems to be a specific area of interest. As many know biosensor products have been successful in achieving a very high level of precision in measuring disease specific biomarkers not only in in vitro environment, but in in vivo environment as well.
However, as testing these new products occurs, understanding how the evaluation of such tools ensue and their impact on possible outcomes is critical. Undoubtedly, there exists considerable promise for such innovations, but will they affect health outcomes? Unfortunately, for decades, healthcare has been the recipient of numerous technologies that have not delivered on the expected value. In fact, several might go so far as to proclaim that certain technologies have increased the cost of services while not indicating improvement in overall health.
Hence, as we transition into the biosensor environment, deciding on whom we test these products is crucial. Presently, a copious amount of experimentation occurs on healthy subjects versus those with high-burden illnesses. Doing so allows us to learn a tremendous amount about utilization amongst such a population, yet it is imperative that we create and test our findings on those that are sick and to whom the benefit would be significantly beneficial. Furthermore, it behooves us to simultaneously, design technologies that focus on solving those with healthcare disparities.
The “shiny object syndrome” requires us to grapple with our unintended bias of using our scarce investment resources in areas that appear “cool” but may not deliver value. Therefore, predetermining study design and outcome measurements that address how these innovations influence behaviors, activation, engagement, and cost is imperative.
Since many of the business models focus on a direct to consumer sales channel, we run the risk of having dollars designated for items that do not significantly, if at all, improve health outcomes. An authentic innovation accomplishes several goals while enhancing consumer engagement, increasing the value by improving quality and lowering costs, and affecting numerous population types.
Digital health represents an innovative and promising field. Let us enhance our focus on ensuring that the creation of value to as many of those we serve occurs first and then our investment dollars will flow in a positive direction.