10 Bumps Along the Road to Digital Health Innovation

January 6, 2016

Digital health faces unique challenges since the consequences of software failure are so much more severe.

Digital health describes the use of information and communications technologies to reduce Sick Care or healthcare costs and to improve the quality of outcomes and population health as well as enhance the doctor and patient experience.

Digital health means different things to different people. Here's how I slice and dice the industry:

• Remote sensing and wearables


• Telemedicine


• Data analytics and intelligence, predictive modeling


• Health and wellness behavior modification tools


• Bioinformatics tools (-omics)

• Medical social media


• Digitized health record platforms


• Patient -physician patient portals


• DIY diagnostics, compliance and treatments


• Decision support systems

When it comes to digital health, there are some unique challenges when compared to other software development, since errors can cause harm to patients. Here are 10 bumps in the digital health innovation highway:

1. Reimbursement and revenue models.

2. Intellectual property protection when using agile development techniques and lean startup methodologies.

3. The use of unreliable patient early evangelists to test and develop products.

4. Medical marketing is different from other consumer marketing.

5. Failing to address the reasons why non-sick care entrepreneurs fail as sick-care entrepreneurs

6. Defining and delivering value

7. Innovating instead of tinkering

8. Digital health products need to be not just technically and commercially validated, but clinically validated as well.

9. Technoskeptics are rampant and there are major barriers to adoption and penetration in sickcare.

10. There comes a point when high tech displaces high touch too much and yields diminishing returns.

Take smart watches and other wearables, for example:

The digital health innovation roadmap has many distractions and confusing road signs. The wary traveler should be well prepared and forewarned.