Last year was a remarkable time for digital health. Obviously it was pretty unusual and tragic for the world in general as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc. We mourn those lost, and we praise our front line health workers and scientists. But for digital health companies, in almost no time 2020 changed from fear of a market collapse to what became a massive funding boom.
But no-one has reported from the ground what this means for digital health companies, of which there are perhaps 10-15,000 worldwide with maybe 6-8,000 based in the United States. Despite the headlines, most are not pulling down $200m funding rounds or SPACing out. So working with professional services firm Wipfli, we at Catalyst @ Health 2.0 decided to find out what digital health companies experienced in this most extraordinary year.
Between Thanksgiving 2020 and mid-March 2021, we surveyed more than 300 members of the digital health ecosystem, focusing on leaders from more than 180 private (and a few public) digital health companies. We asked them about their market, their experience during COVID-19, and what they thought of the environment. We also asked them about the mechanics of running their businesses. The results are pretty interesting.
The Key Message: COVID-19 was very good for digital health companies–on average. Most are very optimistic but, despite the massive increase in funding since the brief (but real) post-lockdown crash, most digital health companies remain small and struggling for funding, revenue, and customers.
We also heard from investors, and a bigger group we called “users” (mostly payers, providers, pharma, non-healthcare tech companies, e-patients & consultants). While these “users” also saw a big trend towards the use of (and, to a lesser extent, paying for) digital health tools and services, they were not as gung-ho as were digital health companies or investors, who were even more optimistic.
The summary deck containing the key findings is below and there is more analysis and commentary below the jump.
TODAY Tuesday, May 11th at 2pm ET/11am PT — RSVP here
Back in November of last year, Catalyst @ Health 2.0, supported by professional services firm Wipfli, launched the Survey on the State of Digital Health, with the goal of creating a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on digital health companies and the rest of the ecosystem. Between the end of 2020 and thru March 2021 we received detailed responses from 300+ digital health aficionados including 180 digital health companies. We’re sure this is the most detailed assessment of what’s happening on the ground in digital health companies you’ll find anywhere.
Join us at 2pm ET/11am PT on Tuesday, May 11th for The Catalyst @ Health 2.0/Wipfli Survey on the State of Digital Health Results Presentation, you’ll see the full results from me & Catalyst’s Elizabeth Brown, hear from Wipfli’s Paul Johnson & Girish Ramachandra, and get reaction to the results from our guests Ryan Johnson, lawyer at Fredrikson & Byron; Sunny Kumar, investor at GSR Ventures;, and digital health CEOs Helena Plater-Zyberk, Supportiv; and Mudit Garg, Qventus.
I think the zoom is full, but you can see it livestreamed below at 11 am PT – 2pm ET – Matthew Holt
Yesterday Catalyst @ Health 2.0 hosted the finals of the RWJF Emergency Response Challenges, one for tools for the General Public and the other for the Health System. It was a great session, sadly virtual and not at a conference with cocktails afterwards. But the promise of the tools that have been built as part of these challenges is immense in the battle against this COVID-19 pandemic and the ones yet to come.
The finalists for the General Public challenge were
Binformed Covidata– A clinically-driven comprehensive desktop + mobile infectious disease, epidemic + pandemic management tool targeting suppression and containment of diseases such as COVID-19. The presenter was veteran health IT expert Rick Peters.
CovidSMS– A text message-based platform providing city-specific information and resources to help low-income communities endure COVID-19. In contrast to Rick, CovidSMS’ team were undergraduates at Johns Hopkins led by Serena Wang
Fresh EBT by Propel– A technology tool for SNAP families to address food insecurity & economic vulnerability in times of crisis – highlighted by Michael Lewis on his Against the Rules podcast about coaching earlier this year. Stacey Taylor, head of partnerships for Propel presented their solutions for those in desperate need.
The finalists for the Health System challenge were
PathCheck– A non profit just spun out of MIT. It has a raft of volunteers and well known advisors like John Brownstein and John Halamka among many others, and is already working with several states and countries. Pathcheck provides privacy first, free, open source solutions for public health to supplement manual contact tracing, visualize hot spots, and interface with citizen-facing privacy first apps. MIT Professor Ramesh Raskar was the presenter.
Qventus– A patient flow automation solution that applies AI / ML and behavioral science to help health systems create effective capacity, and reduce frontline burnout. Qventus is a great data analytics startup story. It’s raised over $45m and has lots of health system clients, and they have built a suite of new tools to help them with pandemic preparedness. Anthony Moorman, who won the best facial hair of the day award, showed the demo.
Tiatros Inc– A mental health and social support platform that combines clinical expertise, peer communities and scalable technology to advance mental wellbeing and to sustain meaningful behavioral change. They’ve done a lot of work with soldiers with PTSD and as you’ll see entered this challenge to get their tools to another group of extremely stressed professionals–frontline health care workers. CEO Kimberlie Cerrone and COO Seth Norman jointly presented.
Videos of the whole session and the demos will be up soon.
And the winners were…
A tie in General Public challenge between CovidSMS & BInformed, who split the $25,000 first prize (and the $10,000 second prize!)
Qventus in the Health System challenge who take home $25,000
But there were no losers. A great culmination of a lot of work to get tech solutions to help us deal with the pandemic.
Matthew Holt is Publisher of THCB and also Co-Chairman at Catalyst @ Health 2.0
Attention digital health innovators! Do you have innovative text message-based health tech solutions that can disseminate health-focused video content? Apply to the Grapevine Health Rapid Response Open Call!
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the importance of health literacy and communication is more apparent than ever. Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is proud to host a Rapid Response Open Call (RROC) in collaboration with Grapevine Health. Five semi-finalists will receive $1k each and will have the opportunity to demo their technology. A grand prize winner will receive $5k and the opportunity to collaborate with Grapevine Health!
Do you have a solution that can fit this need? Apply HERE today! Applications close 8/27.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has underscored the need for efficient and innovative emergency response. Major health organizations, such as the American Hospital Association, have provided resources that can be utilized for organizational preparedness, caring for patients, and enabling the workforce during the pandemic.
The Emergency Response Innovation Challenges asked innovators to develop a health technology tool to support the needs of individuals as well as health care systems affected by a large-scale health crisis, such as a pandemic or natural disaster. The Challenges saw a record number of applications— nearly 125 applications were submitted to the General Public Challenge and over 130 applications were submitted to the Health Care System Challenge.
The deadline to apply for the RWJF Emergency Response for the Health Care System and General Public Challenges is approaching FAST! The Emergency Response for the Health Care System Challenge is seeking digital tools that can support the health care system during a large-scale health crisis (pandemic, natural disaster, or other public health emergency). Examples include but are not limited to tools that can support providers, government, and public health and community organizations. The Emergency Response for the General Public Challenge is looking for consumer-facing health technology tools to support the needs of individuals whose lives have been affected by a large-scale health crisis.
How It Works:
In Phase I, innovators submit their tech-enabled solutions addressing the challenge topic. Judges will evaluate the entries based on Impact, UX/UI, Innovation/Creativity, and Scalability. The top five teams will move onto Phase II.
In Phase II, five semi-finalists will be awarded $1,000 each to further develop their application or tool. Three finalists will be chosen at the end of Phase II to participate in a virtual pitch and present their solutions to an audience of investors, provider organizations, and more. The grand prize winner will be awarded $25,000 for first place.
The public faces a deluge of information, misinformation, and recommendations. In addition, they may lack access to vital resources like health care, medications for chronic conditions, emotional support, food, and shelter. Lack of credible, easy to understand information and resources during an emergency may have potentially life-threatening implications for individuals and their communities.
Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is excited to announce
the launch of two innovation challenges sponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson
The Emergency Response for the General Public Challenge is looking for health technology tools to support the needs of individuals whose lives have been affected by a large-scale health crisis (pandemic, natural disaster, or other public health emergency). The Emergency Response for the Health Care System Challenge is seeking digital tools that can support the health care system during a large-scale health crisis. Examples include but are not limited to tools that can support providers, government, and public health and community organizations.
GuideWell has launched the COVID-19 Health Innovation Collaborative to identify and support solutions that can immediately increase the scope and scale of resources aimed at reducing the complex stress factors COVID-19 is bringing to bear on the U.S. health system.
There will be five categories of focus under
this collaborative, and proposed solutions must directly address at least one
of these categories:
Home-based self-testing solutions for the COVID-19 virus
Virtual, in-home care solutions for at-risk populations that have limited access to health care services
Solutions that reduce risk for health care providers in clinical settings, including approaches for increasing protection of clinical staff
Solutions focused on reducing social isolation due to COVID-19 diagnosis or social distancing
Solutions for delivering food and urgently needed supplies to at-risk populations and households with COVID-19 exposure or symptoms
The COVID-19 Collaborative’s overarching
objective is to source a diverse portfolio of innovative companies that
collectively have the potential to respond to the pandemic in the above
categories. For each category, a cohort of 3-5 companies will be selected to
work together to create a connected, high impact approach to addressing the
Due to the rapid escalation of the COVID-19
pandemic, America’s health care system is at immediate risk of reaching a level
of over-capacity. While most hospitals have emergency plans for pandemics, the
COVID-19 pandemic has quickly highlighted critical gaps in the nation’s health
care crisis-management infrastructure.
To assist health care workers on the frontlines, GuideWell has launched the COVID-19 Health Innovation Collaborative. The initiative seeks to connect diverse innovative health technology companies across the U.S., in response to the coronavirus. This Collaborative is focused on addressing critical risk areas facing health care professionals and staff, homebound COVID-19 patients/families, and the larger social issues arising from the social distancing mandates across the nation.