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Consumer digital health

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Consumer digital health comprises solutions and services that use digital communication technology and are designed to meet the needs of consumers through health education, wellness and disease management. These products involve significant consumer (or patient) interaction and are typically accessed via the Internet―either by personal computer or mobile device.

For additional information related to healthcare, please see our Startup Library section on life sciences, including Healthcare IT, Pharma, and Medical Devices (coming soon).

This page consists of the following sections:

I. Business of Consumer Digital health

II. Consumer Digital Health Trends

III. Consumer Digital Health Statistics

IV. Tracking Latest Developments in Consumer Digital Health

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The Healthcare General page of the Startup Library recommends the best of publicly available information on the overall healthcare ecosystem―including healthcare spending and hospital and doctor statistics.

The Healthcare IT page of the Startup Library covers statistics related to hospitals and care facilities, and technologies related to electronic records, telemedicine and other software products for healthcare professionals.

The Life Sciences General page of the Startup Library lists resources that cover the major segments of the life sciences, such as pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies and medical devices.

 

I. Business of consumer digital health

These links point to funding and mentoring resources specifically for consumer health startups.
 

Consumer digital health accelerators and incubators

These health-focused programs are based in the United States or Europe and accept international applicants. Be sure to also check out our general listing of Accelerators and incubators.

Blueprint Health: This accelerator runs a three-month program in New York. Startups receive $20,000, office space and mentorship.

Healthbox: Healthbox began its three-month program in Chicago, and has since expanded to Boston and Europe. Companies receive $50,000, mentorship and office space.

New York Digital Health Accelerator: This program is run by the New York eHealth Collaborative and the Partnership Fund for New York City for early- and growth-stage digital health companies. It focuses on both consumer and enterprise digital health. A nine-month program, it provides up to $300,000 of funding per company from a syndicate of venture capital and strategic investors.

Rock Health: Rock Health runs in Boston and San Francisco. Teams receive a $100,000 investment, office space and mentorship. Rock Health also maintains a list of digital health startups and publishes digital health reports on topics such as fitness technology, digital health business models, and sensors.

StartUp Health: StartUp Health is an “academy of health and wellness” for entrepreneurs. Setting itself apart from traditional accelerators or incubators, the program involves 12 to 36 months of mentorship and can be done remotely.
 

Consumer digital health funding

Be sure to also check out our Funding your startup page for general funding information.

Angel List: Search for Angel investors interested in funding health ventures.

Digital Health Funding Report (Rock Health): This 2012 report by Rock Health identifies the most active investors in digital health startups. It is updated regularly throughout the year. An update for 2013 is available.

April 2013 Digital Health Funding Insights Report (StartUp Health): This report presents a clear overview of the funding landscape in digital health.

Story of Digital Health: On his website, Paul Sonnier, head of Digital Health Strategy at Popper and Company, a management consulting and M&A advisory firm, provides a list of the most active venture funds.

 

II. Consumer digital health trends

OVERALL TRENDS

Canada

Progress Report 2012: Health care renewal in Canada (Health Council of Canada, 2012): This analysis of Canada’s healthcare performance looks at progress to date in home and community care, health human resources, telehealth, access to care in the North and health indicators.


Consumer Digital Health (2010): This report by MaRS Market Intelligence draws on both existing secondary research and a series of interviews with key stakeholders to provide an overview and an analysis of consumer digital health from an Ontario perspective.


 

United States

The future of connected health devices: Liberating the Information Seeker (IBM, 2011): Shifting the focus away from fit individuals or those with chronic illnesses, this report uncovers the often overlooked population of “information seekers”―individuals that seek some measure of control over their health.

Healthcare Unwired: New Business Models Delivering Care Anywhere (PwC, 2010): PwC surveyed 2,000 consumers and 1,000 physicians regarding mobile technology use and preferences. This report examines three business models for mobile health: operational/clinical, consumer products and services, and infrastructure.

How Smartphones Are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers (California HealthCare Foundation, 2010) (PDF): This report combines secondary research from MobiHealthNews, PwC, Manhattan Research and others. It shows how smartphones and apps are impacting healthcare.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project: Health: As part of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, researchers use surveys to learn more about consumer health behaviour online, from caregivers to individuals with chronic disease.

National eHealth Collaborative: The National eHealth Collaborative works on bringing health consumers and other stakeholders together to advance e-health. It publishes useful reports on the status of the industry. A key report is Health Information Exchange Roadmap: The Landscape and a Path Forward (April, 2012).

Rock Health: This digital health accelerator publishes a number of healthcare IT trend reports. Its Business Models in Digital Health highlights and compares differences between consumer and enterprise digital health models. Its other reports are a useful starting point for a variety of digital health topics.

 

International

Emerging mHealth: Paths for Growth (2012): This report compiles stakeholders’ views on mHealth and examines the current mHealth landscape, including its potential in developed and emerging markets, the barriers to adoption and its impact. Download the full report using the link on the left.

Global Healthcare Deals Quarterly (PwC): This quarterly newsletter by PwC tracks recent investment trends and opportunities in global healthcare markets.

Health Information as Healthcare: The Role of Mobiles in Unlocking Health Data and Wellness (United Nations Foundation, 2011): This discussion paper, commissioned by the United Nations Foundation & Vodafone Technology Partnership, examines the role of ICT in facilitating health data sharing in three major healthcare domains: surveillance systems, human resources and supply chain.

mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies (WHO, 2011): This publication is volume 3 of the Global Observatory for eHealth Series. Based on the findings of the second global survey on eHealth, this report addresses mHealth specifically and includes a series of detailed case studies highlighting best practices in mHealth.

Mobile Applications for the Health Sector (World Bank, 2011) (PDF): This report assesses the current state of mHealth from an international perspective, including developing countries, with extensive case studies of Haiti, India and Kenya.

 

EMERGING AREAS OF CONSUMER DIGITAL HEALTH

Some emerging trends in consumer digital health include the concepts of gamification, quantified self and the influence of social media.
 

Gamification

Gamification is the application of game design elements, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts, such as health.

Games for Health Project: The Games for Health Project brings together researchers, medical professionals and game developers to encourage the use of game technologies to improve health and healthcare. They hold an annual “Games for Health” conference.

Health Games Research: The Health Games Research national program at University of California Santa Barbara conducts and supports research to enhance the quality and impact of interactive games used to improve health.

They also maintain a knowledge database containing hundreds of games and publications, as well as information on resources, organizations and events related to health.
 

Quantified self

The term “quantified self” refers to the regular practice of monitoring and collecting biological, physical, behavioural or environmental information about some aspect of one’s life.

Quantified Self: This is a community for individuals interested in self-tracking to gather and share knowledge and experiences, and to discover resources.

Quantified Self hosts an annual conference for users and tool-makers interested in self-tracking systems. They also maintain a guide to self-tracking tools.

Quantified Self Toronto Meetup: This is a regular “show and tell” for people who take advantage of various personal self-tracking tools and methods to gain more knowledge about themselves, others and the world around them.
 

Social media

While social media has become mainstream for many businesses, healthcare organizations have been slower to adopt social tools. These reports highlight how this is beginning to change.

Social media “likes” healthcare: From marketing to social business (PwC, 2012): The report’s findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 consumers and 124 healthcare executives, providing insight into what healthcare organizations are doing in social media.


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III. Consumer digital health statistics

Ontario

Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES): As an independent, non-profit organization, ICES conducts research to help policy-makers, managers, planners, practitioners and other researchers to shape the future direction of the Ontario healthcare system. This includes publishing information relevant to healthcare entrepreneurs on a broad range of topics including population health, health system performance and chronic diseases.

Check out their publications including Seven More Years: The Impact of Smoking, Alcohol, Diet, Physical Activity and Stress on Health and Life Expectancy in Ontario.

Wellbeing Toronto (City of Toronto): Wellbeing Toronto is a web-based measurement and visualization tool that helps evaluate community well-being across Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods. This tool supports decision-making and seeks to engage citizens and businesses in understanding the challenges and opportunities of creating and maintaining healthy neighbourhoods.
 

Canada

Statistics Canada: Health: Statistics Canada’s health data covers a wide range of areas, including:

    • the health of the population
    • lifestyle and environmental factors affecting health, access to and the use of healthcare services
    • research into various health topics

Key publications from Statistics Canada include:

    • Canada Year Book (2012) (PDF): This annual yearbook contains a section on health statistics, including general health and wellness indicators.
    • Health Fact Sheets: These short informative articles cover diverse health topics, drawing from various health data sources.
    • Health Reports: This monthly journal publishes population health and health services research.
    • Healthy people, healthy places (2010): This report examines the health of Canadians by focusing on demography, health status, health behaviours and the environment.
    • Mental health and well-being: Statistics Canada also collects information on mental well-being, including self-esteem, stress, depression and mental disorders.

Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI): CIHI collects, analyzes and publishes data and information so that stakeholders can make decisions that support and advance the health of Canadians.

Health Indicators: This series of annual reports contains a compilation of selected indicators that measure the following:

    • health status
    • non-medical determinants of health
    • health system performance
    • community and health system characteristics

Indicators of Well-Being in Canada (Human Resources and Skill Development Canada): This resource gathers data from different sources to present a complete picture of the well-being of Canadians. It also shows how this picture may be changing over time. Data covers how many hours Canadians work each week, their education levels compared with those in other countries, the affordability of housing and much more.

Public Health Agency of Canada: This is the main federal agency responsible for public health in Canada. As part of its mandate, the agency conducts surveillance and publishes reports on infectious diseases, chronic diseases and health conditions.
 

Specific diseases or health conditions: key reports

These reports present Canadian statistics for specific diseases or health conditions.

Diabetes in Canada: Facts and figures from a public health perspective (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011): This report provides the most recent diabetes statistics in Canada, including statistics on risk factors for developing diabetes and its complications. It presents rates of the disease by age group, gender and province as well as the impact of diabetes on individuals and their related needs from the healthcare system.

Injury Reports (Public Health Agency of Canada): The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) is a computerized information system that collects and analyzes data on injuries to people (mainly children) who are seen at the emergency rooms of a sample of general and pediatric hospitals in Canada.

Surveillance (Public Health Agency of Canada): These resources produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada provide data related to infectious diseases and health conditions.

Tracking Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011): This is an annual compilation of statistics relating to heart disease and stroke.

Canadian Cancer Statistics (Canadian Cancer Society): This annual publication provides detailed information on incidence, mortality and other measures of the burden of cancer for the most common types of cancer by age, gender, year and province or territory.

Healthy Canadians 2010―A Federal Report on Comparable Health Indicators (Health Canada, 2011) (PDF): This report provides the public, healthcare providers and other stakeholders with information on the health of Canadians and the performance of Canada’s healthcare system. It focuses on areas such as access, quality, health status and wellness. Available statistics include access to healthcare and health and wellness data.
 

United States

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC is the United States’ public health agency, whose mandate includes creating the expertise, collecting the information and building the tools that people and communities need to maintain their health.

The CDC offers many publications as well as data and statistics organized by topic. Further resources and key publications include:

HealthData.gov: HealthData.gov is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of Americans.  This site is dedicated to making health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers and policy-makers in the hopes of better health outcomes.
 

International

World Health Organization (WHO): WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. Check out the various health topics they cover:

WHO Global Health Observatory: This data repository provides access to over 50 datasets on priority health topics, including:

    • mortality and the burden of diseases
    • non-communicable diseases and risk factors
    • epidemic-prone diseases
    • health systems
    • environmental health
    • violence and injuries

World Health Statistics (2012): This is the WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States.

World cancer factsheet (International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, 2012) (PDF): This factsheet contains 2008 global cancer statistics.

 

IV. Tracking latest developments in consumer digital health

These websites and events will help keep entrepreneurs up-to-date with the latest developments in consumer digital health.
 

Consumer digital health news and blogs

Digital for Health: Written by MaRS Advisor, Martin Sumner-Smith, this blog reflects Martin’s unique perspectives and experiences in biotechnology, bioinformatics and enterprise software.

Healthcare IT News: Healthcare IT News is available free of charge and covers major reports on healthcare IT topics. One key report this trade publication features is The Digital Doctor is “In” (Accenture, 2013), which spotlights the increasing levels of electronic medical records and health information exchanges.

iMedicalApps: Written by a team of physicians and medical students, this publication provides commentary and reviews of mobile medical technology and apps.

Jay Parkinson: Jay Parkinson, MD and founder of two health startups, Hello Health and Sherpaa, will keep you inspired. Follow his personal blog for more insight into healthcare IT.

MobiHealthNews: This company delivers news related to mobile health. They also publish reports, including quarterly assessments of the state of the mobile health industry.

Rock Health Blog: This is an excellent blog from a trusted source. It includes multimedia resources, reports and infographics that delve into consumer and enterprise health IT topics.

Xconomy Health IT: Xconomy covers business, life sciences and technology news in Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Detroit, San Francisco and New York.
 

Consumer digital health events

AppsForHealth: Aimed at the mHealth and e-health industries, AppsForHealth is an information-sharing, networking and recruiting event. Held in Ontario, this one-day event culminates in a student app competition.

Digital Health Summit: This event is comprised of an event at the  Consumer Electronics Show as well as an independent summit. The focus is on consumer-based health and wellness innovations.

Hacking Health: This is a Canadian hackathon that brings together programmers and healthcare experts to build realistic, human-centric solutions for front line healthcare problems.

Health 2.0: Health 2.0 showcases innovative health technologies. It holds multiple conferences and code-a-thons each year. Its flagship event is held every fall in San Francisco.

Health Datapalooza: This annual conference encourages innovative and effective uses of health data by companies, startups, academics, government agencies and individuals.

Health Innovation Summit: This startup-focused event is put on by Rock Health, a health technology accelerator.

HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition: One of the largest annual health IT conferences, this forum connects vendors with purchasers. It also has an educational program and a networking component.

Medicine X: Billed as “an academic conference for everyone,” Medicine X is a catalyst for new ideas about the future of medicine and healthcare.

mHealth Innovation Exchange Conference: This event brings together mHealth entrepreneurs and health IT payors and providers with the goal of setting up pilot projects.

mHealth Summit: This large event attracts leaders in government, the private sector, industry, academia, and not-for-profit organizations and other stakeholders from across the mHealth ecosystem.

TEDMED: TEDMED is a community of people who are passionate about imagining the future of health and medicine. An offshoot of TED, this annual conference is held in Washington each year.

Transform: Hosted by the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, this symposium focuses on innovation and design solutions that transform the experience and delivery of healthcare.


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