Top 3 Approaches to Digital Health Innovation

Generally speaking, there are three basic approaches to digital health innovations: app driven, sensing driven, and service driven. In other words, there is either a novel app, a new sensing capability or an innovative service. Innovations may also combine these approaches, for example, to solve more complex needs, enhance differentiation, rationalize higher prices, and increase barriers to entry.

Tables1 outlines the basic approaches to app-driven innovations in digital health. Tables 2 and 3 do the same for sensing- and service-driven innovations. In the case of sensing approach, the sensors maybe in the phone or in a separate device, often referred to as a “smart” device. Such smart devices incorporate connectivity—wired or wireless—to facilitate transmission of the measured data. Innovations enabled by such smart devices need not be exclusive to also using a phone’s embedded sensors for additional capability.

Table I: App-Driven Digital Health Innovation

App
Alone The app features and capabilities comprise the innovation; there are a wealth of such health and wellness apps on the market.
+ Service The app supported by a known servicecomprises the innovation, wherein the service uses the data from the app for actionable information. An example would be remote coaching.
+ Sensing The appenabled by the phone’s embedded sensing comprises the innovation. An example would be to use the phone’ camera for dermatological scans.
+ Service
+ Sensing
The app enabled by the phone’s embedded sensing and supported by aknown servicecomprises the innovation. An example would be to use the phone’ camera for dermatological scans and return a diagnosis from a doctor.

Table 2:Sensing-Driven Digital Health Innovation

Sensing
Alone The smart device alone comprises the innovation. An example would be a wearable patch that measures and stores data (e.g., ECG) over an application period; the data is subsequently downloaded at a docking station.
+ App The smart device, supported by a companion app, comprises the innovation. For example, the user of the patch can access the device data through the app.
+ Service The smart device, supported by a known service, comprises the innovation. An example would be the patch, coupled by a mail-in service to download and analyze the data for actionable information.
+ App
+ Service
The device, supported by an app and a service, comprises the innovation. In the patch example, the user receives actionable information through the app, e.g., a diagnosis.

Table 3: Service-Driven Digital Health Innovation

Service
Alone The service alone comprises the innovation. An example would be a data transport and analytics solution.
+ App The service, supported by an app, comprises the innovation. In this approach, the app is the user interface for the service.
+ Sensor The service, enabled by a sensor, comprises the innovation. An example would be remote monitoring of patients using existing sensing technology.
+ App
+ Sensor
The service, enabled by a sensor and supported by an app, comprises the innovation. Here again, the app services as the user interface for the service.

It is important to point out that in all approaches, there is a need to address. The approaches to the solution often require innovation in one or more areas. A given need may require a measurement capability that does not exist, necessitating innovation in sensing. There may be an opportunity for a new service, not readily and/or conveniently available. Finally, an innovation may be in the form of an app; a growth area in this respect is digital therapeutics, wherein an app can be a prescribed medication.

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