Confidence in long term return on digital healthcare investment

JULY 1, 2022:- The bear market volatility of digital and other health tech stocks may have unnerved investors, but an HBI 2022 panel is confident about long term return on investment and future expansion of digital healthcare.

By way of example, Anni Ilso-Mustajärvi, digital platform director at Mehiläinen in Finland, said that the company’s BeeHealthy digital platform was doing well. The service for patients and providers has grown to over 1.5 million registered users or 24% of the Finnish population. Over 10 provider customers in multiple markets make use of BeeHealthy. Her case study illustrated that digital services have raised productivity and the pandemic has accentuated these trends.

She says physicians using BeeHealthy are treating 10 to 20 patients an hour, and daily consultations have surged to 6,000. Over 45% of appointments are made online or by app and 30% of all appointments are done virtually through the digital clinic or video.

“It is win, win, win, win,” Ilso-Mustajärvi insisted, explaining that the patient has fast effortless access, reliable value and good care. Doctors’ surgeries are more flexible and profitable and pay patients encounter lower costs and give a reliable, value add experience. Providers can boost their brands and competition is transparent. In 2021, Mehiläinen Group’s total revenue was €1.4 billion and EBITDA €300 but so far, the digital platform’s proportion has not been disclosed.

David Rhew, chief medical officer and vice president of Healthcare Microsoft said digital health has the potential to prevent disease and lower healthcare costs, and is being used to help patients monitor and manage chronic conditions. He cited a smartwatch remote rehab program at Kaiser Permanente in California. Patients recovering from a cardiac event have been wearing smartwatches to track whether they were exercising and taking their medication. More than 2,300 patients recovering from a cardiac event enrolled in Kaiser’s remote eight-week rehab program between June 2018 and June 2019. More than 87% of the patients completed it, Rhew said. Data was collected on whether patients experienced symptoms when they exercised, he added. 

Rhew also mentioned Spyglass Consulting Group’s study– “Trends in Clinical Communications and Collaboration 2021”. It surveyed hospitals and health systems and 90% of respondents “had made significant enterprise-wide investments in smartphones and “Clinical Communications & Collaboration (CCC) solutions”. 

The technology not only achieves more transparency and communications for patients but improves productivity of care teams, medical support staff, and non-clinical hospital workers, the study adds.

Bjoern von Siemens, co-Founder and chief business officer of Caresyntax explained that the firm specialises in surgical analytics and automation. As of 2021, Caresyntax’s technologies were applied in 4,000 operating rooms worldwide, he said. The aim is to make surgery safer and smarter by empowering healthcare providers, insurers, and surgeons with innovative, data‐driven solutions. von Siemens demonstrated several models that claimed to boost success and profitability e.g. projected overall returns “for one of the largest university hospitals in EU”. Improved efficiency, quality and research and development could achieve a net present value (NPV) of €77 million in five years and €168 million in ten, the model predicts.

Key potential problems, according to the panel, include hospital bureaucracy and medical chiefs who reject proposals. Digital providers should discuss proposals with doctors, hospital lawyers and IT specialists. Firms should also be wary of intellectual property rights. and competition.

© Copyright Neil Behrmann

First published in Healthcare Business International

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