Why digital health startups keep failing ?


The author of this interesting piece, Paul Yock, puts forth a believe that digital health companies keep failing because they try to apply what works in consumer oriented technology to the healthcare space. Namely, the approach of “move fast and break things just doesn’t work in healthcare. His hypothesis is that pure consumer-oriented products do not work in and have not transformed healthcare because: a) the healthcare industry is much more complicated, highly regulated and has multiple stakeholders; b) the real customers and gatekeepers are the providers and insurers. He reports that the proof of this is visible in the fact that $12 billion in annual investments in this field have rarely created game-changers as are visible in the consumer market; and “61% of digital health companies that start B2C end up pivoting to B2B and selling to other stakeholders. Dr. York certainly has the credentials to be taken seriously: he is a cardiologist, professor of medicine and bioengineering, and founder of the Byers Center for Biodesign at Stanford University - healthcare business and innovation is a very humbling experience, so I would never dismiss his views outright. Maybe his views still make sense for biotech and FDA-approved medical products; however, we are now in a new era. In all other walks of life the elite and industry experts are viewed with skepticism or out-right contempt. The same is happening in healthcare. Specifically employers, regulators, politicians and the public are fed-up with all the talk from experts when the end result remains rising prices, obfuscation, and demeaning user experience when compared to all other aspects of the consumer’s life. There now exists a multi-billion dollar health and sick-care industry outside of the mainstream. Who really believes that the solutions to our most persistent healthcare problems will really come from the old establishment? If I were betting on change and future success, I would place my chips on products and services sold directly to end-consumers, the ordinary people, who will vote with their own money for where to get wellness and sickness services.


Read: Fast Company: Why do digital health startups keep failing?

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