Fast- forward to a digital health future
Our survey findings show that digital healthcare is the future—one that is arriving very quickly. People currently without accessible or adequate healthcare because of poverty or geographic location could now receive high-quality treatments. Products that capture and process staggering amounts of individual health data could increase our understanding of specific diseases and improve patient outcomes. Demographic trends toward an aging population and rising rates of chronic illnesses could create unprecedented demand for new healthcare services.
 
To succeed in digital healthcare, life sciences and technology companies will need to overcome several challenges. Both sectors may also need to find ways to work together effectively, and the winners will be those who understand this now. Six key insights emerged from our survey that future leaders in both sectors should begin exploring immediately.
 
Today is big. Tomorrow is remote. Big data analysis is likely to attract the most interest and investment in the next five years, but later this will be superseded by investment in remote monitoring and mHealth.
 
Data is power. Life sciences companies recognize the unrivalled resource offered by huge collections of patient data. These companies have experience in navigating healthcare regulatory processes, and forward-thinking technology companies can look for ways to join forces with them. Companies that figure out how to use this data to address medical needs could transform healthcare worldwide.
 
Wearables work. A new generation of “wearable” technology able to continually monitor heart rate, temperature, exercise, calorie intake, sleep patterns and more could provide unprecedented real-time data that will allow not only wellness monitoring but also deeper knowledge of the effects of different drug interventions. Cardiovascular health monitoring may continue to attract high levels of interest, but by 2035, devotees of wearable wellness monitoring technology may dominate the marketing opportunities, with apps to promote good mental health gaining a strong following.
 
First-movers have the advantage. Corporate players standing on the sidelines of the digital healthcare revolution need to start moving now to avoid being left behind. Those who fail to take the plunge soon will run the risk of losing their competitive advantage. The first businesses that figure out how to collect and use health-related information efficiently, in ways that patients and regulators permit—including through successful cross-industry cooperation—will have lots of opportunities.
 
Patents are not the only way. It is better to get a framework in place to protect your intellectual property as soon as possible, but this should not delay the process of getting a digital healthcare product to market. Whether a company files for a patent may be a business decision rather than a necessity. It may be better to simply treat intellectual property as a trade secret.
 
Education is key. Many patients and doctors don’t fully understand the potential benefits of digital healthcare. Educating our wider population about these benefits and achieving public recognition and acceptance will be a major part of the battle, particularly among older consumers, who may become the biggest users.
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