That’s the record-breaking number of digital health companies that raised more than $4 billion in funding in 2016. During a year in which funding was expected to decline, digital health is one of few industries that continued to thrive. Naturally, the big question for entrepreneurs in this space is now:
How do I set myself apart from the rest?
In a time when digital health “copycats” are ubiquitous, this is a valid question. That’s why Project Zygote dedicated an entire session to evidence generation – the practice of demonstrating proof of impact, which can help distinguish your product in a crowded market. After attending this session, our partners at Evidation Health recognized that participants wanted to learn more, so they offered an additional workshop to clarify any misconceptions around evidence generation. Here are a few things we learned:
Myth #1: My startup is still small, so I don’t need to think about evidence generation yet.
Reality: Regardless of how small or early-stage you are, it’s important to start planning for and collecting both quantitative and qualitative data as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think that information is valuable now, it could be in the future. For instance, if you want to run a retrospective analysis in a few years, you’ll have the data to do so since you started collecting it early on. This analysis could pay dividends by being published, informing business decisions or helping with prospective study development down the line.
Myth #2: The product page is the only important page on my website.
Reality: While having a viable product or service is indeed the first step to success, don’t discount the importance of an “outcomes” page as well. As of 2015, there were over 165,000 mobile health apps. With so many options to choose from, how will a healthcare buyer differentiate one identical product page from the next? By clicking on the “outcomes” page of a website and seeing easily digestible evidence of the product or service’s benefits to her health.
Myth #3: My quantitative and qualitative data just needs to appeal to my target demographic.
Reality: Even if you have a consumer-facing product, chances are you’ll have to appeal to providers, payers and other key decision makers as well, since they are often the ones who pay for healthcare products. So make sure you’re demonstrating not only the effectiveness of the product, but also its impact on healthcare utilization, workplace productivity and/or health economics to sway those third parties.
Myth #4: My product does not have a clear impact on health outcomes, so there’s no point in evidence generation.
Reality: Many different types of health and behavioral metrics can be extremely revealing when it comes to your patients’ outcomes, needs, and desires. Think about what types of outcomes you can easily capture that have a direct or indirect impact on your target focus. For instance, if you have a mental health app, you can collect data on both the self-reported progress of your users and daily activity metrics. Track their exercising habits, how many mental health-related medications they’re taking, etc. Get creative and collect data that is tangentially related to your main goal and could serve as supporting evidence.
Myth #5: I can’t conduct any studies because my startup doesn’t have a large enough budget.
Reality: Big data and the internet of things are changing many aspects of healthcare-- and conducting studies is one of them. Digital health technologies enable digital methods for recruitment, real-time monitoring, and retention of patients-- which translates to more cost-effective trials. Evidation Health developed its Real Life Study Solution to virtually enroll study participants 10x faster than traditional methods and quantify real life outcomes.
All signs show that 2017 will continue to be an exciting time for digital health companies. The opportunities have never been greater, and the competition has never been fiercer. Make sure to leverage all the information we shared around evidence generation to ensure your startup doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
About Evidation Health
Evidation Health partners across the healthcare ecosystem to generate real-world clinical and economic evidence enabled by digital health solutions. Evidation Health helps partners quantify and optimize health outcomes through advanced analytics of medical, behavioral and contextual data at the patient-consumer level. Evidation Health is a privately held company headquartered in San Mateo, CA. For more information, visit www.evidation.com.