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Perspectives: Investing in the infrastructure shaping Digital Health
November 18, 2021
Digital Health

Perspectives: Investing in the infrastructure shaping Digital Health

Over the coming months, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into sectors, trends, and technologies that we believe represent compelling investment opportunities. In this edition, Partner Rocío Pillado walks us through Adara’s perspective on Digital Health, one of the key pillars of the firm’s investment thesis.

Digital Health is a broad multidisciplinary concept that refers to the intersection of healthcare and technology, helping health systems operate more efficiently and deliver higher quality outcomes and patient care. Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, global venture capital funding for Digital Health companies hit a $15 billion high in the first half of 2021, compared to $6.3 billion raised in the first of 2020. The Digital Health market is poised to grow by $380 billion during 2021-2025, progressing at a CAGR of over 25%.

Digital Health solutions have the potential to revolutionize patient services, bringing better care to underserved areas and helping people better understand their own health, risks, and treatments. But for a true digital transformation to take place, we must also focus on building the underlying infrastructure that can support delivering Digital Health solutions to the masses in a practical, secure way. 

While there are elements that are specific and unique to the healthcare sector, we see many emerging patterns in technology adoption and application that are commonly accepted in other enterprise sectors to solve key challenges, including: 

  1. Digital transformation - Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare expenses in most countries were already expanding even faster than the economy, strained by ever-pressing challenges such as the rapid growth in elderly populations, a shortage of professionals, and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions. However, the digital breakthrough in the complex and heavily regulated healthcare system has lagged behind other industries.
  2. Infrastructure & interoperability - There are growing concerns about the fundamental IT infrastructure in healthcare to support emerging technologies. Infrastructure was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic as institutions turned to telehealth, remote care solutions, self-service portals, and more. However, interoperability issues of new technologies with existing systems also emerged, introducing new challenges and driving up operational costs.

  3. Data management - The healthcare industry is at the centre of a data revolution as it demands to improve efficiency and reduce costs while increasing the quality of patient care and medical research. This revolution must consider data governance, and data privacy and security, to be successful.

We are excited about Digital Health startups helping the sector unlock more value from data, improve workflows and reduce costs, and apply artificial intelligence (AI) to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, all while balancing innovation with strict privacy and security protocols. 

The opportunity: Healthcare digitalisation - now in perpetual motion

Digital technologies hold great promise to bend the system’s cost curve and improve health quality. In recent years, graphics processing units (GPUs), data storage, and other IT infrastructure technologies have become cheaper, faster, more accessible, and more powerful. As in other industries, modern medicine is primed for a massive adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

AI is already the backbone for multiple health applications. AI can predict a disease, assist clinicians in making faster and more accurate diagnoses, and improve hospital workflows and overall efficiency. We can best observe the power of AI in areas such as precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery, medical research, and genomics. One notable example of this is Quibim. Headquartered in Valencia, Spain, the platform applies artificial intelligence and advanced computational models to radiological images. 

Traditionally, there has been a capacity restraint on the number of radiologists and the number of images they can process, as well as an accuracy constraint due to the human element. Quibim’s AI platform provides more than 20 algorithms to recognize complex patterns in imaging data and provide quantitative, rather than qualitative, assessments for a range of conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, liver disease, and even COVID-19. More than 70 hospitals and 11 clinical trials around the world are already using Quibim to improve accuracy and efficiency of their radiology teams. 

The opportunity: Transforming healthcare data management

Digital technologies hold the key to unlocking the value of the abundant amount of health data, from the now commonplace Electronic Health Records (EHR) to medical imaging, genomic sequencing, payor records, pharmaceutical research, and IoT devices. Despite the wealth of this data, diverse and siloed data still present significant interoperability constraints, which couple with concerns on privacy and security.

Based in Barcelona, Spain, IOMED is a Digital Health company that has developed a cutting-edge Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine tailored to connect and unite clinical data worldwide. IOMED’s technology accelerates the reuse of clinical data in hospitals, enabling them to structure and access patient data more efficiently while maintaining authority over data access and usage. It also allows hospitals to provide a secure and fully -anonymized environment for researchers and partner companies (pharmas or CROs) to analyze the data. 

IOMED’s solution is on-premise and fully compliant with hospital privacy and ethical standards. More than 30 Spanish hospitals are working with IOMED, freeing up valuable resources from tedious administrative tagging and creating pathways for clinical research to deliver advances in modern medicine in a safe, robust, and efficient way.

Investing in the future of Digital Health

We have invested in innovative B2B solutions for over 15 years, and Digital Health is a natural extension of our investment thesis. While the applications may be new, we believe there is a massive market opportunity to bring enterprise technology to modern medicine. We are excited by this challenge and we look forward to supporting more digital technologies driving the future of healthcare.

If you're disrupting Digital Health, get in touch with us