The recent acquisition of Withings buy Nokia may signal the beginning of a new wave of consolidation in the healthcare end user device business, but it wouldn’t be the first. We’ve already seen some interesting developments in that respect in the fitness app business. In 2015 Adidas acquired Runtastic for some $240m, Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness for $150 and MyFitnessPal for a $475m whilst, in 2016, Asics acquired Runkeeper for $85m.
It’s a classic case of M&A activity being used across disparate segments to enable digital expansion of existing businesses. In particular, these sports businesses are bent on brand building through a deepening and extending of customer relationships by adding value to existing physical products through digital technologies and services.
Now before you think I might have just regurgitated a Business School textbook and click way, let me explain why this idea is important to the business of expanding digital and mobile healthcare. In the world of healthcare it is analogous to a model where healthcare payers and providers are digitising services and using that to enhance and extend the bond between medical and other health professionals and those they care for.
But it’s actually more than that. It’s about re-thinking the way healthcare services are delivered. It’s about seizing the opportunity to change the relationships between all four groups so that the patient is put at the centre of care and given unprecedented choice in how they influence their health state and manage their healthcare provision.
But that aim is in danger of getting lost amongst the plethora of hype, technology buzz words and endlessly increasing predictions of how many devices will be sold currently– the apps, smartphones, mobile devices, watches and so on.
The benefits of digital medicine and mhealth should not be couched in terms of the consumer tools and end user devices that make it possible, nor should it even be about the places you have to physically visit less as a consequence – surgeries, hospitals, pharmacies and so on. It should be about the quality, convenience and cost of services delivered.
And that means putting into place the physical and virtual networks that allow real value to be delivered from the devices through their integration onto single platforms along with the services delivered by the payers, providers and professionals. All of which combined enable the patient input and personal and professional decisions that contribute to better outcomes.
Let’s all welcome the potential that comes with every new device innovation, but let’s not forget it will be the connection of all the resources that fund, provision and deliver healthcare will make the major difference for every one of us. That’s why we’re building the Medelinked Global Personal Health Network.
Written by Ian Gallifant, CEO Medelinked Health Platform