by Lew Brown, Partner, bluesalve partners, CEO Motum.ai

The phrase "paradigm shift" might be shopworn throughout the tech sector, but when the real deal comes along, smart businesses need to be ready.

One such shift is staring at us today in the form of our healthcare system, where technology is changing pretty much everything. What does this exploding, all-encompassing, $3.8 trillion industry have to do with your tech business? If you don't have a good answer, you may want to start thinking of one.

Why Now?

The inevitable merging of consumer tech and healthcare has been talked about for many years but grew slowly for virtually all of them. That was probably unavoidable; no two industries could be less alike. CE companies are built on fast product cycles and continual new goods. By contrast, the average medical device takes 3-7 years to get to market and longer for traction and adoption.

Uncertainties about regulations and liabilities, not to mention consumer appetite for out-of-pocket health spending, were just a few factors that dampened CE innovation in this space. Concerns about deployment, interoperability and user support (among others) slowed the  interest from the healthcare side. That's right about where everyone stood until the pandemic hit less than 2 years ago. Considering where we are today with health tech acceptance and demand, that might as well have been 50 years ago.

The Genie Is Out Of the Bottle

One of the consequences of COVID was that it quickly popularized remote technologies. The virtual visit to the doctor turned out to be easy, even for grandma, as was the Zoom call with family or work. Suddenly, in-home devices like cameras and voice controls made more sense to more people. Online patient portals were quickly deployed by major healthcare systems. In addition to conducting virtual visits, these tools let patients review lab results, message their doctors, track medications, make appointments and more. Telehealth became mainstream overnight and has now become an expectation.

Our overstretched healthcare system was ripe for the transformation. For years, spiraling costs were forcing greater emphasis on health at home. This broadened the scope of care to include pre-emptive "wellness" maintenance, as well as broader use of telehealth technologies. In 2019, Medicare introduced 3 new reimbursement codes for remote patient monitoring. Five additional codes will go into effect next year for remote therapeutic monitoring. The stage has finally been set.

Opportunities & Challenges

For technology companies, the digital health and wellness boom is creating a new consumer-oriented marketplace that could turn out to be the broadest opportunity of them all, with blue oceans in almost every hardware, software and service direction. For many, the question will be how to extend these potential adjacencies without disrupting your current business. How do you morph a smart home security system into a senior monitoring system? How do you extend a headphone line into hearables, or position an HVAC or lighting company as a wellness brand? It starts with strategy, and it lives and dies with execution.

The healthcare industry will be stepping up too. There's a sea change happening and an urgent need for that industry to understand how to integrate and certify devices that can help them take advantage of the new need to deliver more remote care. CE companies that are involved with sensors or the integration business should know that demand from this sector is about to explode. This time for real.

You may not have thought of your company as being in the "health" business. But healthcare is now becoming a consumer-driven market. And that is your business, right?

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