89% of digital health leaders perceive the industry as risky, says report

A global survey of digital health and wellness practitioners found that although many leaders felt optimistic about the future of the industry, the overwhelming majority also perceived the sector to be relatively high risk.  

The survey, commissioned by specialist insurer Beazley, focused on 376 executives from telehealth companies in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as mobile platforms and life science technology software.   

“Since we wrote our first telehealth risk in 2009, the digital health sector has continued to evolve in line with technological advancements and changing attitudes towards remote care among patients as well as health practitioners, governments and investors,” said Evan Smith, global head of miscellaneous medical and life sciences at Beazley.  

“There is a considerable opportunity for this sector and for the insurance industry to strive to deliver better risk mitigation and risk transfer,” Smith added.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

The report found that 89% of survey respondents feel they are operating in a “moderate to high-risk environment.”  

Although leaders’ fears varied by region, the sector-wide risk of greatest concern was misrepresentation by online advertising. 

Other top concerns included cyber attacks (especially among established businesses), inadequate care provision due to human error and technology or data shortcomings.  

When it comes to specific company risks, supply chain instability was ranked as the top concern, followed by practitioner recruitment, economic uncertainty and meeting regulatory requirements.  

At the same time, 90% of respondents said they expected their companies to grow this year, with one-third innovating new services and products and nearly 60% saying they are experiencing expansion due to COVID-19. Nearly nine in ten U.S. companies said they planned to raise capital in 2021, compared with 70% in the U.K. and only half in Europe and Asia.  

Technology investments were seen as a key growth driver, including more sophisticated artificial intelligence and robotics.  

“AI-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few concrete examples of digital transformation in healthcare that are reshaping how we interact with health professionals, how personal data is shared among providers and how decisions are made about treatment plans and health outcomes,” wrote report authors.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Telehealth expansion appears to be at a major tipping point, with key players such as Amazon signaling their plans to establish app-based care nationwide.   

At the same time, regulatory requirements in a post-COVID environment are still a massive question mark, which could affect the growth patterns of remote care companies (especially those trying to establish business in multiple states).  

ON THE RECORD  

“The [digital health] sector has grown exponentially from the beginning of the pandemic, fuelled by an impressive track record in innovation, a wave of fresh capital, expansion plans and demand,” said Smith.

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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