The Fourth Wave — or: How to Create the Future of Digital Health Care
Considering the current development of the global population, it becomes clear that demographic change will increasingly influence our society in the coming years. The need for long-term care and rehabilitation measures will continue to rise, confronting both societies in general and especially health care professionals with major challenges. Up until now, we have seen manifold approaches to solve this issue, but not many with a sustainable impact — for various reasons. So, let’s have a close look at what happened so far to learn how to create better solutions. Solutions that work at scale, that really improve existing systems and tackle the broader problems.
Innovation in health care: Wave 1 and 2
In my view, the biggest challenge is the balancing act between solving today’s problems and creating an innovative health care system for tomorrow. We have seen several big waves of digital innovation in the health sector in recent years, with mixed results.
For example, in 2008, Google entered the health care market and attempted to get the most out of its data power. Or a few years later, in 2011, startups like MySugr, Mimi, Tinitracs tried to set new standards, but not all of them managed to scale in Europe and realized their full potential here. Was it because they simply started too early or because they did not involve healthcare professionals?
Integration is king: Wave 3 and 4
Since 2016, startups such as Vivy, Ada and Clue in Europe have been trying to push forward exactly this development: the integrated solution. In this wave, I noticed that we are at a crossroads in the digital health care sector, especially in Germany. We have learned that certain insurance models don’t work for investors because contracts are way too selective with too little users. The same applies to the political framework, in which the General Practitioners are particularly protected. Speaking of the political conditions, the subject of data and their secure handling often block many good ideas and initiatives in advance.
In my opinion, we need to bridge the gap between the established health care providers with in-depth knowledge and innovative startups that are agile, bring in fresh, digital ideas and new ways of thinking. For this, it is inevitable to integrate new digital solutions into the existing health care system and processes. If this works, I am convinced that both sides can benefit from each other, in the interest of the quality of health care and the patients.
The fourth wave: Three suggestions for intelligent health care
It is time for action now, for a fourth wave of innovation in health care. Time to put our learnings into action and to create sustainable, resilient solutions. The political preconditions have changed as well: There are 3 billion euros available for the AI strategy of the German Federal Government across all industries. And there is the first draft of the so-called Digital Supply Law with the aim of ensuring a better supply through digitization and innovation.
However, it is not only a matter of money and the legislator but also of ambition. We need to embrace a new culture — we need to realize that failure can even be a good thing if we learn from it and move forward to find an even better solution. If we do not adopt this mindset soon, the brightest minds will develop their ideas somewhere else under better conditions.
But what does that mean in particular? Here are my three suggestions for health care startups and enthusiasts on how to tackle the challenges ahead:
1. We do not need to develop a European version of an existing solution, but rather find a European answer to the challenge of our aging society, independently from what is happening in the US or elsewhere because the health care systems differ vastly. So, let go of the idea of catching up with the big players and work on your own ideas.
2. Be self-confident: Anyone who wants to promote innovation in this sector knows where the big problems are. Get the solutions, give feedback, don’t use excuses, go ahead and do it.
3. Make sure that digitization and AI are present in all health study programs, otherwise, the next generation can only think of solutions on paper or Excel.
Note from the editorial staff: We would like to look at artificial intelligence and other future technologies from different perspectives — even in industries in which Porsche is not itself active. That’s why we always invite experts to discuss their opinions on the development of technologies on our blog. You’re interested too? Get in touch with us!
Diana Heinrichs is CEO and founder of Lindera. The Berlin-based startup develops data science solutions for the care and health care industry using an AI-based mobility analysis. For more details, get in touch with us on Twitter (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital), Instagram (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) and LinkedIn (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital).