Remember Instagram’s “Ten Year Challenge”? When ‘grammars were posting pictures of themselves from a decade before, next to one from the present day? Now we’re seeing the “2020 Challenge” — and this time, it’s a picture from March next to a present day picture.
Telemedicine was the finger in the dyke at the beginning of pandemic panic, with healthcare providers grabbing whatever came to hand — encouraged by relaxed HIPAA regulations — to keep the dam from breaking. But as the dust settles, telemedicine is emerging as the commodity that it is, and value-add services are going to be the differentiating factors in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Offerings like remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication, initially considered as “nice-to-haves,” are becoming standard offerings as healthcare providers see their value for continuous care beyond COVID.
Last month saw the rollout of the latest upgrades to Amazon’s Echo speaker line: earbuds, glasses, and a ring that connect to Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa. These new products are just three examples of a growing trend to incorporate technology seamlessly into our human experience, representing the ever-expanding frontiers for technology that have moved far past the smartphone.
These trends and others are going to make a big impact in the healthcare space, especially as providers, payers and consumers alike slowly but surely recognize the need to incorporate tech into their workflows to meet the growing consumer demand for digital health tools. At the same time, the data-hungry nature of these innovations is creating its own problems, driving a discussion around privacy and security that is louder and more urgent than ever.
Here are three trends to look out for in the coming year:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are growing into themselves
In 2020, we will continue to see AI and machine learning push boundaries, while at the same time mature and settle into more defined patterns.
With the adoption of technologies like FaceID, facial recognition technology will be an important player in privacy and security. It can be leveraged to simplify the security requirements that make multi-factor authentication a time-consuming process for healthcare professionals — on average, doctors spend fifty-two hours a year just logging in to EHR systems. On the patient end, this same technology has the ability to detect emotional states of patients and anticipate needs based upon them, and the success of startups like Affectiva, the brainchild of MIT graduates, shows its tremendous promise..
Meanwhile, FDA-approved innovations from Microsoft and others claim the ability of computer vision for assisting radiologists and pathologists in identifying tumors and abnormalities in the heart. While robotic primary care is a long way off, some view AI as a rival to more niche clinical positions.
Collaboration is at the heart of successes over history — in Darwin’s words, “those who learn to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Yet the healthcare space has been slow to learn that lesson. Far from functioning as a team focused on a single goal, healthcare stakeholders operate on a fractured playing field, each one trying to get to the goal on their own. From that perspective, everyone becomes a competitor — and the ability to reach the goal line becomes nearly impossible.
Nowhere is the tension more obvious than in the struggle to integrate technology and healthcare.
On the surface, they are unlikely partners. Healthcare isn’t exactly a profession for risk-taking, and rightfully so — in every decision, the safety of a patient is at stake. A new drug or tool has to run the gamut of regulatory burdens and clinical validation before it gets anywhere close to adoption. Adoption and implementation is arguably even more challenging, including everything from integrating new solutions into legacy systems, convincing practices to abandon the sunk cost of preexisting solutions, or overcoming the lack of financial incentives — without practice reimbursement, the challenge of adoption becomes that much more daunting.
Technology, on the other hand, is a high-risk, high-reward market (there’s a reason that billion dollar-valuation startups are called “unicorns”). Many tech startups achieve their success by delivering direct-to-consumer solutions, cutting out the middleman and individualizing experiences for the user. It’s a formula that doesn’t map well onto the healthcare field where the success of patient care and outcomes relies on a web of relationships.
And tech companies that have tried to take these formulas from Silicon Valley and apply them to healthcare learn that really quickly. The graveyard of digital health tools is littered with companies trying to sidestep the problems of the healthcare system by dealing with the patient directly, and removing the care provider from the equation.
Babyscripts is a virtual care platform for prenatal care powered by mobile apps that drive better patient decision making, IOT devices for remote monitoring, and a host of population health tools to give providers access to patient data in real time.
It seems unlikely that two childless bachelors, with no healthcare experience, would start a pregnancy company, but Juan Pablo Segura and Anish Sebastian founded Babyscripts, now the most impactful digital health tool in the obstetrical market. In 2014, with a passion to improve the current healthcare system due to family health struggles, business savvy, and the tenacity to succeed, these two former Deloitte consultants found themselves in front of the Chair of Obstetrics at George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Dr. Nancy Gaba, which started the journey of Babyscripts.
Babyscripts sells to health systems, private practices, and payers to support women’s health initiatives in pregnancy care. Babyscripts is then delivered by a care provider to an expectant mother at the beginning of her pregnancy. It is deployed through risk-specific modules that are tied to the clinical/social risk of a patient at the point of care.
Each year, 4 million babies are born in the United States. Babyscripts works with the providers of care for these pregnancies – health systems and private practices – to support better access to care and better quality of care. Currently, nearly half of the counties in the United States don’t have access to an OB-GYN, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimated that in 2020, there will be between 6,000 and 8,000 fewer OB-GYNs in the country than needed. Babyscripts is the only clinically validated tool that allows doctors to automate aspects of care, enabling there to be greater efficiency in the workflow, enabling doctors to touch more patients in a meaningful way.
Who are your competitors?
Our competition can be categorized in a few areas:
There are Consumer Maternity Apps in the market (ex. What to Expect, BabyCenter, The Bump)
Payer focused apps and programs for maternity (Wildflower Health, Ovia Pregnancy)
Non-Obstetric based clinical apps (ex. Wellpass, Vivify Health, Conversa Health)
How your company differentiates itself from the competition and what differentiates Babyscripts?
Babyscripts is the only platform that connects the clinical provider and patients together using technology, while at the same time lowering the cost of care. By including the provider and all of their guidance, specific information and advice into the equation, it ensures that a patient is getting information that aligns with her provider’s care plan, while keeping engagement high. Additionally, Babyscripts is the only clinical tool that is singularly focused on solving obstetrical problems.