The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a broader adoption of proven and scalable digital solutions in healthcare, and played a pivotal role in assisting healthcare providers and patients as they navigate the new normal.
European investment and regulation
The fast-tracking of global regulations on digital health has enabled wide roll-outs of solutions and in turn encouraged greater investment into the sector. European companies operating in the space have raised $11.8 billion, with France playing a leading role, both on the investors’ and funded companies’ side.
We all know that reimbursement is a key challenge for many new digital health solutions. Since late last year Germany’s Digital Healthcare Act (Digitale–Versorgung–Gesetz) started to chart an important course for other European countries, even though some issues are yet to be resolved.
Consequently, the pandemic period has seen France reimburse its first digital therapy in the form of Sivan’s Moovcare, which targets lung cancer, while Belgium recently fully reimbursed moveUP, an mHealth app for the follow-up of patients after hip and knee replacement operations.
On the companies’ side we have witnessed the establishment of a number of promising partnerships between digital health firms and pharma companies or other institutions.
One of these is a collaboration between Kaiku Health and Roche to co-develop novel digital patient monitoring and management modules in oncology.
The renewed partnership linking mobile care coordination and patient engagement platform Buddy Healthcare with Tampere University Hospital is another example, and will see Tampere implement Buddy’s platform to streamline its patient services and provide transparent and clear care pathways.
The field’s next steps will be ensuring digital health is used today to deliver the best care to a global population in face of a mental health spike following the global emergency.
Digital therapy programmes that can offer courses of evidence-based treatments also have a role in the crisis, given their unique potential for scalability. In the first half of 2020, digital behavioural health start-ups scored $588 million, roughly the annual funding for this segment in any previous year.