Digital health can be defined as the convergence of the digital and genetics revolutions with health and healthcare. Digital technologies (communications, big data mining and analysis, miniaturized electronics), along with the relatively recent breakthroughs in mapping the human genome, are changing the face of medicine. Digital health embraces many segments – from telemedicine and mobile health, to diagnostics and prevention, to personalized medicine, to electronic medical and health records, to population health management, to healthcare consumer engagement, to special purpose digital devices.
According to a Rock Health report published in January 2014, $1.97 billion was invested in 186 digital health companies during 2013, a 39% growth from 2012-and this is only taking into account companies that raised more than $2 million. The report predicts that venture funding for digital health will soon surpass medical device funding and is already doing better than other traditional healthcare sectors.
In a talk that he gave at the Digital Health Event held on the Google Campus in Tel Aviv in March 2014, Dr. Oren Fuerst focused in particular on the wearable digital health device sector. With unobtrusive footprints and user friendly interfaces, wearable digital health devices are always-on and always-connected. Their sensors and biosensors make them environmentally aware. If these devices once served relatively simple purposes such as counting steps or heartbeats, today they monitor complex clusters of activities – in order to prevent or provide early warning of adverse medical events, or to promote and support a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Fuerst cited a September 2013 report that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 18 owns an activity tracker. It is not surprising, therefore, that healthcare is one of the leading applications being discussed for the recently launched Google Glass platform.
In his presentation, Dr. Fuerst quoted a series of reports from leading market research firms that forecast dramatic growth of the wearable device market over the next five years. The most conservative estimate predicted that the market will reach $19 billion by 2018 while the most optimistic projected tenfold growth to reach a market size of $50 billion by 2018.
Incentive believes that digital health in general and wearable digital devices in particular are real and immediate market opportunities, and is actively seeking to partner with entrepreneurs with innovative initiatives in these areas.