Pandemic ‘moved digital health forward 15 years in three weeks’, health tech CEO

Technology in healthcare has exploded in the wake of the pandemic, although determining which platforms and strategies have the most resistance remains a work in progress.

Over the past two years, there has been both a spike and a decline in digital health funding. Recent deals have focused on telehealth, remote monitoring or administrative platforms to make healthcare management more efficient – ​​although few have focused on therapy. Using apps as a way to treat mental health or manage chronic illnesses is a nascent segment of the industry, but the competition is heating up.

“I think what we’re seeing is a recognition that… there’s the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue by transitioning to where we’re going with care. Digital health solutions really do have an opportunity,” Rick Anderson, president and CEO of digital therapy company Dario Health, told Yahoo Finance.

Dario (DRIO) recently announced a partnership with Sanofi (SNY) to expand digital care. Dario’s platform helps patients manage diabetes, hypertension, weight management, musculoskeletal and behavioral health.

The government’s shift to creating billable codes for digital health is also helpful to the industry, although insurers are not yet sold on the idea, he said.

“All of this will unfold over a period of time, and we’re moving more and more towards a traditionally reimbursed approach to digital health. I don’t think it’s all going to end up being prescription…focused, but I think we’ll see different levels of reimbursement,” Anderson said.

The five-year, $30 million deal with Sanofi adds to what has been profitable over the past two years.

Total revenue increased by 171% from $7.6 million in 2020 to $20.5 million in 2021 and has a business volume with a total contract value of $35 million , the company said in its annual results for 2021.

Close-up of a pregnant woman talking to her doctor on a video call

Travel outside the health facility

What Dario and Sanofi are doing is adding a new layer to expedite patient care at home. This segment, particularly in the older population, has been steadily growing. Companies like Vytalize Health, Current Health, and Tomorrow Health all focus on the home space.

From regularly monitoring vital signs to helping find the right medical devices and health plan coverage, broad spectrum is ripe for a competitive market.

The novelty of using digital solutions to care for patients while outside of a healthcare facility is a natural progression in the industry’s goal of reducing hospital stays while keeping patients healthy. patients.

The goal stems from a key industry buzzword – value-based care – the idea that you get paid to keep your patient healthy by avoiding costly rush treatments and hospital stays. hospital.

The idea, which has its share of critics, is that better expense management can lower the overall cost.

Tomorrow Health CEO Vijay Kedar told Yahoo Finance that before the pandemic, 90% of seniors wanted to age in place, making home the highest value site of care.

“It was, I would say, one of five priorities for health plans that were thinking about how to enable more effective care at home,” Kedar said.

Since its inception, his business has grown to partner with major healthcare providers like Geisinger Health and 125 health plans regionally and nationally.

Kedar said he found a great place with medical devices, a complex field and whether or not something was cheaper with or without health insurance.

Device vendors “are burdened with the real-world operational challenges and complexity of operating in this space. This ranges from the billing complexity of 3,500 Medicare billing codes to supply chain logistics for many of these suppliers requiring localized inventory.

It creates a system where the only way these companies can operate is to mark up those costs,” Kedar said. This is just one example where technology is helping to serve patients at home.

With the medical industry moving towards specialty drugs and therapeutics, it is also possible to find new ways to treat someone without physical intervention.

This has been at the heart of mental health and wellness apps deployed by employers in recent years.

Anderson said the future still awaits the results of recent innovations.

“I don’t think we really know yet how this is all going to work out,” he said. “I think one of the silver linings, I’ll call it, of the pandemic was that it took digital health forward like 15 years in three weeks,” Anderson said.

Where regulators once worried about fraud and enforcement, the pandemic has forced their hand and provided proof of concept instantly.

“I really hope we don’t back down on some of these things,” Anderson said.

Follow Anjalee on Twitter @AnjKhem

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