According to some estimates, the market for healthcare applications could top $31B by 2020. The pace of innovation and new product development is rocketing along at lightning speed.
Why is this? Contributing factors include governmentally mandated efficiencies, additional funding for technology, the proliferation of broadband access, and others. But as I’ve thought about it, there are three elements that rise above the rest: the incredible explosion of underlying information technology capabilities, heightened consumer expectations, and the sheer creativity of the entrepreneurial world.
- Underlying Technology – Information technology breakthroughs have come in waves: first mainframe computing in the 1950s, then desktop personal computers in the 1980s, then the expansion of the Internet in the 1990s, and finally the explosion of smart phones and tablets in the 2000s. Each surge opens new application opportunities as business expectations change.
- Consumer Demands – It’s the last wave of innovation – the nearly universal presence of mobile devices – that I believe has propelled the digital revolution forward at warp speed. We’ve reached the point where most people are truly annoyed when they can’t pay a bill, order an item, or perform some other transaction online. We just expect that. And just watch how someone reacts if he or she breaks their phone or accidentally leaves it home. Some psychologists have identified a technology dependence addiction, characterized by significant irritation when the technology we have come to take for granted is unavailable.
But this dependence (healthy or otherwise) has spurred unprecedented opportunities for healthcare IT and created consumer thirst for more digital access. Of course I expect and even demand that my medical information be readily available and transmitted in a secure way whenever and wherever I want it. Of course I want to be able to track online the delivering of my mail-order prescription. Of course I want to communicate with my caregivers in a time and manner that is convenient to me. That’s the way I conduct the rest of my life.
- Entrepreneurial Creativity – This new level of consumer expectation feeds into the third enormous contributing factor behind the technology tidal wave: healthcare and technology leaders’ inquisitive and enterprising spirit. Over the last few months, I have interacted with hundreds of people bitten by the bug of pushing technology’s limits by developing ever-more-impressive and useful health technologies. Some are clinically oriented, some are designed to coordinate care, and some address the business issues common to all industries. But these developers are the ones moving the ball down the field, helping transform how care is being delivered.
The healthcare system is greatly indebted to the thousands of basement- and garage-dwelling entrepreneurs who devote months and even years to develop tech products that represent the breakthrough products of the next five years. Keep up the great work!
So, from where I sit, the future looks bright. None of these trends is likely to wane for the foreseeable future.
Glenn Pearson is Principal Founder of Pearson Health Tech Insights, LLC