Prescription Digital Therapeutics: Hope or Hype?

It’s been a wild year of innovation and growth in digital health. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention. As the global pandemic arrived, digital health transformed from a convenience to a requirement. Yet contrary to popular belief, the spoils have not been evenly distributed.

The long-heralded class of “prescription digital therapeutics” has lagged in adoption, while the growth of “virtual care platforms” has been explosive. What differentiates each approach and what are the key takeaways for payers, providers, consumers, and investors? 

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The UK and Creating an Innovative Health-Tech Culture

Imagine a near-infinite improbability drive that takes common, raw materials and transforms them into a conveyor belt of wealth-creating products and services. 

Once you owed such a device, you would do everything you could to preserve and protect it. The improbability drive I refer to is “innovation” and the UK was once good at it for healthcare. 

From penicillin to the smallpox vaccine, the UK has a long history of punching above its weight in the field of healthcare innovation. Unfortunately, we have ceded that lead, in part, due to an increasingly hostile culture towards health-tech entrepreneurs.

Here’s why. Innovation is the result of trial and error by tinkerers, often preceding our scientific understanding. It proliferates in decentralized environments where people are free to think, experiment and speculate. It is almost always bottom-up rather than top-down.

The first challenge is the UK’s centralized approach to healthcare that optimizes for low cost at the expense of innovation and spends 20% less per capita on healthcare than the OECD average.

A lack of willingness to invest in innovative health-tech projects coupled with bureaucratic decision-making has created an environment of limited opportunity for new upstarts. The result has been a brain drain of the best and brightest health-tech entrepreneurs migrating to more innovation-friendly markets.

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The Mobile Health Paradox: Why Data Isn’t Nearly Enough

Health and fitness apps are all the rage at the moment, but do they actually help us live healthier lives?

Note: This article was originally published in TechCrunch on Feb 10, 2016.

Across most developed economies, healthcare costs are rising faster than inflation. In the U.K., the National Health Service (NHS) faces an estimated funding gap of £30 billion by 2020. In the U.S., the situation looks more bleak, with total annual healthcare spending surpassing $3.8 trillion, representing an astonishing 17.4 percent of the country’s total GDP.

A key cause of the rise in healthcare spending lies in the spiraling costs of treating preventable chronic diseases (such as obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer), which account for 88 percent of total healthcare spending. This figure isn’t surprising when you consider that approximately half of all adults in the U.S. have one or more chronic conditions. More worryingly, seven of the top 10 causes of deaths occur as a result of preventable chronic diseases, with cigarette smoking alone accounting for 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

These facts suggest that many of the key healthcare challenges of the twenty-first century lie in how we tackle chronic disease. This article will explore the role of mobile technologies in meeting these challenges, why they have failed to do so until now and what a solution might look like in the future.

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