Choosing the Best Point Solutions
“Digital technology and innovation always run five years behind in healthcare.” So goes the axiom, and for those of us who’ve been around the health ecosystem, I think it used to be true. But is it still?
It’s reasonably safe to say that, over the last five years, more money has been flowing into early-stage capabilities within healthcare than into any other industry around the globe, with the lion’s share of these funds being directed at the U.S. system. This has resulted in what is probably the largest and fastest proliferation of digital tools in any industry in history. And the stakes—the absolute requirement to make good selections in the tools you choose on behalf of your members or patients—have never been higher.
Every day here at Leverage Health, we talk with companies aiming to solve problems big and small in tech-driven healthcare—and there’s no shortage of companies to talk with. According to a report by IQVIA’s Institute for Human Data Science, in 2020 alone, the number of digital healthcare applications ballooned to 90,000—the equivalent of 250 new solutions a day. A competitive, free-enterprise healthcare system encourages innovation, and this is as true for pharmaceuticals as it is for digital innovations. In 2018, more than half of new medicines worldwide came from the U.S. 
So What’s the Problem with Digital in Healthcare?
Why is this sector so crowded and noisy? Why are some of the same people who used to lament how far behind the industry was now sometimes heard to wonder if we’ve gone too far? How can we ensure that the best ideas—the ones that deliver the most value to consumers and businesses—are the ideas that succeed? And finally: How do we make sense of all these point solutions?
Let’s start with the last and loudest part: all those companies with point solutions. They’ve exploded, and there are more solutions every day. In many ways, a member trying to find a great doctor isn’t too dissimilar from a health insurer trying find the right mix of digital health solutions for their member. The truth is very simple, and innately we all know it: All doctors and all solutions can’t be right for every member—there’s a best, a worst, and everything in between. But how to tell which is which? How do we cut through the PR and marketing hype to understand which ones can actually do what they claim to do, and help you reach meaningful health and financial objectives?
The Good News: Data
The good news is that there’s a simple way to quickly cut through most of the noise: data. The way through generally begins by recognizing that there are two types of companies: those that embrace data, and those that avoid data. In short: When you start asking companies to show you their data—that is, how they track and measure their results—and how those results stack up against their competitors’ results, the lists begin to sort themselves very quickly. While you might not be able to tell one provider from the next by looking at a few webpages, you can always tell different digital health solutions apart if you look—really look—at the data.
Now for one of the most crucial questions: How do you ensure that you choose the best solutions? While this might sound obvious—of course you want the best solutions to, but which ones are best is actually not so obvious. The key—no surprise—is data. One of the best ways to cut through all the media hype is simply to ignore it and focus on the information at hand. The solutions that should always be first on your list are those that directly and openly measure their outcomes—and maybe have them confirmed by independent parties. Once you’ve found a solution that supports your specific objectives, every new possibility that comes down the pike should be compared directly with it. The criteria you use to find an effective solution should be applied evenly across the whole ecosystem of point solutions.
How to Handle that Flood of Media Information
But what, you might ask, about that constant flood of media “information?” The best way to wade through it is what we do here at Leverage Health—with source material, reporters, and content creators finding new solutions for you to evaluate. That’s it. When a company comes to our attention, whether through a press release, an investor, or a friend in the industry, we simply ignore the vast majority of the media hype focusing only on the claims that company makes and then saying to them, “Prove it—with data.”
What to Target