One-sixth of the US economy is spent on the US healthcare system. About $2.8 trillion is spent annually or an average of $8,500 per person. When compared to other countries, the size of the healthcare system alone would rank fifth in the world. An informative article from Vox analyzes this spending through various comparisons and graphs.
US Healthcare: Past & Present
In the past decade, healthcare reform in the US has focused on providing people with more access to healthcare by means of affordable health insurance. Key facets of the Affordable Care Act include non-discrimination of potential enrollees with chronic conditions and creating health insurance exchanges which helped consumers buy insurance. Though strongly contested through King vs. Burwell and National Federation of Independent Business vs. Sebelius, the ACA remains as intact as law.
On the other end of the health spectrum is public health and preventive medicine. The main principle of public health is prevention through health education, epidemiology and health behavior change, among others. Several industries have grown in the space outside of direct healthcare, including health/wellness/fitness, complementary and alternative medicine and most recently wearable technology through apps and sensors, illustrated in a TED talk by Ted Wolf in “quantified self”
Startups & The Future of Health
The market size of offerings outside of the healthcare space is growing and appears to be an ongoing trend. Key stakeholders in healthcare are jockeying for position. Hospitals systems like the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, insurance companies like Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente as well as retail giants CVS and Walgreens have all embraced recent trends. The onus has been on consumer engagement to improve population-level health outcomes. For example, Kaiser Permanente celebrated a 10-year anniversary of their social marketing campaign KP Thrive last year and continues to promote healthy lifestyles in partnerships with national initiatives. Even CVS rebranded to CVS Health to “help people on their path to better health.”
Two startups based in the Triangle of North Carolina have been growing rapidly and have the potential to impact population health. First is startup, Validic, based in Durham, NC. It offers wellness companies and healthcare providers a platform to manage and analyze their patients’ wearable technology-based data. In its most recent round of funding, Validic secured another $12.5 million, which included Kaiser Permanente’s ventures arm, Kaiser Ventures. Considering the number of apps to collect health data from various sources, Validic looks to be a key player in data aggregation and management of personal health data.
The second startup that grabbed the attention of “high-profile investors” a few weeks ago is Predictify.me. The Raleigh-based startup takes large data sets and “extrapolates” them into the future data sets. Future data sets enable analysts to forecast and can plan strategic moves accordingly. Chief Data Scientist, Dr. Usmani, is renowned for his work in public safety and counter-terrorism in his native country of Pakistan. Despite starting in the private sector for consumer buying habits, Dr. Usmani and Predictify.me aims to focus on making social impact. Innovating to improve the healthcare system just may be the social impact that Predictify.me is looking for. Imagine if predictive analysis took place with an individual health consumer. How might researchers, public health practitioners and companies utilize this to keep individuals healthy?
The US economy cannot sustain the pace of healthcare spending and the potential applications outside of the healthcare system seem ready to bring more value for each dollar spent. How wearable technology will affect population-level health outcomes is still unknown. But with Validic, Predictify.me and others leveraging technology to obtain, manage and analyze data sets, don’t be surprised if health outcomes start to improve.
Originally published on Startup Grind