This week, we published our latest market update on the Healthcare Information Technology (“HIT”) sector. You can read it here.
We observe that the answer to the question: Why do Innovations matter? – is that the best ones advance humanity and enhance the quality of our lives. Further, we observe that innovations essentially fall into one of two categories – we like to call them ‘disruptive’ vs. ‘breakthrough’ innovations. Disruptive innovations use new methods or technologies to disrupt an existing process or product. Email, wireless telephony and robotic manufacturing are good examples of disruptive innovations. These innovations wring out inefficiencies from existing systems, and in many instances, rearrange the economic stakes among the participants (think Airbnb or Uber).
The good news is that disruptive innovations are catching on quickly in the healthcare industry. Virtual visits or remote monitoring apps, for example, are improving interactions between patients and providers. There should be no doubt that the impact of these technologies will be long lasting and profound. That said, at the end of the day, these innovations optimize and enhance existing processes in an industry with notoriously low productivity and efficiency. We believe that the HIT industry is now on the verge of delivering scores of new breakthroughs that could redefine how the science of medicine is practiced.
The forces of breakthrough innovations create grass roots demand from novel discoveries. In healthcare, great examples include the X-ray machine or the discovery of DNA. These breakthroughs have contributed to the world of medicine in many remarkable ways. Building upon these technologies and others, most healthcare investors have been chasing breakthrough opportunities for curing and treating the most serious diseases, such as diabetes or cancer.
But what if we can predict and prevent diseases before they intervene? This is where the HIT industry can have its “moment of impact.” According to Watson Health, factors that impact our health are our genomic data (30%), certain clinical data (10%) and our lifestyle (60%). We are now able to measure these data points and integrate them with algorithmic models built around specific diseases, using the vast scientific and medical research knowledge base. Predictive and prescriptive analytics built on these elements hold the key to breakthroughs in the prevention space. And that is the fulcrum where science meets wellness.
As these predictive technologies take hold, our dialogue with our physicians will no longer be along the lines of “you could lose a little weight” or “your blood sugar is too high.” The conversation will revolve around preventive actions that can be taken in light of a holistic view of the patient. By using these new analytics techniques, doctors will be able to predict disease risk, and based on those results, a personalized recommendation consisting of level of activity, food and medication can be tailored specifically for each of us.
We are in the early stages of realizing breakthroughs in the science of “precision wellness” but there are companies that are pioneering the effort with encouraging results. If we do not take prevention seriously, by 2030 close to 50% of the US population will have chronic diseases. We believe that the prevention industry will be a spectacular success and could ultimately create a trillion dollar race. Perhaps, it is time to shatter the notion that sick care is where the action is.