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Mary Meeker Is Bold On Digital Health

By JOHN NOSTA, President, NostaLabs

Her presentations are as interesting as they are long. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner, Mary Meeker, devoted 31 pages of her information-packed Internet Trends Report to health technology. The title of the section set the tone: "The Healthcare Digital Inflection." Meeker's presentation--focused on internet trends--provides further evidence that health and technology are converging to offer new and important solutions in managing and untangling the complexities of health and wellness. The focus was on internet trends, so many top-of-mind digital health issues such as AI, nanotechnology and robotics were off-topic for her presentation (www.kpcb.com/internet-trends). However, clear trends emerged, as technology is pushing many aspects of health and medicine into the 21st century. Here's my top-line overview. I encourage everyone to review the presentation, as it's full of interesting data, graphics and insights.

Bold on digital. In just the years from 2000 to 2017, we truly arrived at a new century. From x-ray machines to sphygmomanometers to ECGs, we have become digital. Further, the rise of digital information and digital capture is growing rapidly. And perhaps most interestingly, these data are more freely shared by consumers. Meeker also asks if these changes in health technology can follow tech-like rapid adoption curves. Perhaps this suggestion is a bit of challenge or even a warning for what might be just around the corner.

Bold on data. The proliferation of health apps and the rise of empowering data is in the hands of both patient and physician. The electronic health record (EHR) and rise of centralized medical information are at the center of this trend. Also, the ability for hospital to provide access to digital data is on the rise--a sevenfold increase since 2013. Yet Meeker also presents the tremendous increase in health data and references, a 48% year-on-year growth. And the growth of medical knowledge is also rapidly growing. In 1950, medical knowledge doubled over 50 years. By the year 1980, that changed to seven years. In 2010, medical knowledge doubled in 3.5 years. Meeker's presentation of data suggests that data itself has the power to inform, educate and overwhelm the medical and consumer communities.

Bold on genomics. As genomics digitizes, it gets faster, better and cheaper. And the accumulation of the data lead to a tremendous growth in knowledge. Meeker suggests that this increase will lead to a direct increase in therapeutics into the marketplace. Also, a sequenced genome can be leveraged by an ecosystem of partners to provide a variety of services and products. This will ultimately result in more informed and empowered consumers.

Bold on innovation. Drug development was another interesting aspect of the presentation. As development costs increase, it was suggested that innovations in genomics can help better select patient populations for drug trial, impacting success and speed to market. The dissemination of information within the scientific community--the breaking down of silos--can also drive collaboration and innovation.

Meeker calls it a healthcare digital inflection point. I agree. However, this inflection point is less a single point on a curve, but more a reflection of multiple factors converging at this point in time. Technology is empowering and challenging. But the tsunami of change is upon us, and it's less a question of "if" than a question of "when." To get a sense of this, just look over your shoulder.

Follow me @JohnNosta for a more informed and healthy future. Originally published on Forbes.com.



 
 
 
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