Remote consultations, digital treatments, medical robotics, wellness apps, Artificial Intelligence: the world of healthcare, too, is moving into a new digital age. Technology is not only revolutionizing people’s approach to treatment, but actually fostering a new ecosystem in which big companies, start-ups, research institutions, investors, physicians, pharmacists and other stakeholders work together towards a single goal: to prevent disease, nurture health and encourage a culture of wellness. The subject has been much discussed, including at an event entitled “Frontiers Health at Milan Digital Week: Living the New Ecosystem” organized on 15 March by BNP Paribas Cardif, one of Italy’s top ten insurance companies1, and Healthware Group, a leading digital health consultancy.
Combining experience, networking and cross-fertilization of ideas among the ecosystem’s various players has always been the object of events put on by Frontiers Health, which over the last five years has created a worldwide community of healthcare innovators, one to which Healthware is proud to belong.
Digital health has a key part to play in this process of transformation. Reference models, targets, expectations, all are changing; and so is the wider vision. The insurance industry has moved from simply paying out financial compensation for illness, injury or loss towards the higher aim of preventing and mitigating them; and technology now offers it a chance to develop next-generation policies with innovative services and support, as well as a customer experience featuring promptitude, flexibility and user-friendliness.
Some years ago, BNP Paribas Cardif began its Open Innovation journey towards that goal, inventing a new, innovative and effective model for sourcing Insurtech start-ups and building them into its operations. This “cross-fertilization” has, for instance, led to a collaboration with Healthware Group to develop an innovative new digital health product, and another with D-Heart, which thanks to one of BNP Paribas Cardif’s Open-F@b Call4Ideas has managed to market the first smartphone-based means of independently carrying out an ECG and referring the results straight to a clinician.
This new ecosystem of health innovation has already shown it can generate value: according to figures presented during the event, more than $18bn have been invested in Digital Health start-ups between January and October 20182, 56% more than over the same period the year before. In five years no less than $45bn of venture capital has gone into digital health start-ups on average, a figure to rival the level of investment in the pharmaceuticals industry; and the total value of this market could reach some $400bn in 2024. The leading trends are digital treatments, with forecast average annual growth of about 30% by 20233, Artificial Intelligence and the lowering of human/machine barriers.
“The healthcare sector has begun a digital transformation as radical as any seen in other industries over the last few years – perhaps more so. Digital healthcare is truly revolutionary, because it will enable every operator in the sector to re-shape its production processes, its service provision and the ways it can benefit its users’ health. Health insurers’ presence in the healthcare ecosystem will make it easier to access treatment and will encourage preventive behaviour,” said Roberto Ascione, CEO & Founder of Healthware Group.