1. Data‐Driven Healthcare. In 2011 and into this next decade, the rate of data generation from biological measurement will continue to accelerate. Making sense of this deluge of data from sources as disparate as electronic medical records, biometric sensors, population statistics, environmental factors, and genomics will be the interesting part! Nimble start‐ups that can aggregate and analyze these data will create tremendous value and advances in human health without the capital intensity of traditional healthcare companies.
2. Engagement Increases “Healthspan.” As chronic disease takes its toll on so many Americans, we’re realizing that how well we live is as important than just how long we live. As a result, we’ll see increasing patient engagement in disease prevention and wellness to maximize our healthspans, not just our lifespans. Online, mobile health programs that engage us, including the “gamification” of elements of these programs, will be prevalent. Watch for our health activities to become a major driver of our online social networks.
3. Technology‐Enabled Remote Care. Several trends will drive remote medicine growth in the U.S. The American Medical Association predicts a shortage of 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years; remote care allows fewer doctors to cover more patients. As Baby Boomers age, remote care will help more seniors age gracefully at home, rather than in an assisted care setting. Remote monitoring is already practiced for some indications: Corventis and iRhythm have developed sensors and communication technology for monitoring patients’ cardiovascular health.
4. Rethinking Mental Health. Mental health diagnosis has eluded technological solutions and remains an area with the potential for sweeping advances. Several startups are working to develop blood‐based tests and EEG‐type devices that can diagnose mental conditions. For example, the ability to distinguish between depressive disorders versus bipolar disorder would allow patients to be treated more effectively.
5. Evolving Landscapes. The proverb: “May you live in interesting times” will apply to life science start‐ups and investors in 2011. The legal, regulatory, and reimbursement landscapes are evolving due to the rulings in the Myriad Genetics, Bilski, and Prometheus court cases. The FDA is considering the 510(k) processes for medical devices and how to regulate Laboratory Developed Tests. Reimbursement guidelines are being relooked at as the FDA and CMS consider a parallel review process for new products. Last but not the least, the new Congress will be seated ready to take on the newly enacted Healthcare Reform Bill.
Risks always exist. As Herodotus said, “great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.” Or as The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, says: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” For those that take the shots, it could be a truly happy decade! And with that, have a happy New Year!
[Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of posts from Xconomists and other technology and life sciences leaders from around the U.S. who are weighing in with the top surprises they’ve seen in their respective fields in the past year, or the major things to watch for in 2011.]
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