Digital health is cool, no questions about that.
But does it actually work?
One startup is aiming to answer that very question akin to a mathematical problem that is solved with a conclusive proof or Q.E.D. -- quad erat demonstrandum.
Evidation Health -- the name is a mash up of evidence, data and validation -- based in Menlo Park, California, takes a 21st Century approach to the more traditional clinical research organization. Evidation's goal is not only to design and run studies that pull clinical data, behavioral data and contextual data, but also to leverage those to arrive at a quantifiable result of the value of digital health technologies.
|Learn more about "Using Connected Populations and Data Analytics to Quantify Outcomes for Digital Health Products," at BIOMEDevice San Jose, December 7-8.|
This is important at a time when payers are closely scrutinizing new technologies. But it is especially important for digital health technologies given that the category wants to usher in a new paradigm of care but the market is still unsure of how to reimburse them.
"I agree with you that there is a big question around incentive structures and reimbursement pathways in digital health," said Deborah Kilpatrick, CEO of Evidation Health in a recent interview with MD+DI. "Where I think we can play an important role is in the definition of very clear clinical benefit and very clear economic benefit because no matter what product class you look at in 2015 and beyond, whether its molecular diagnostics or imaging diagnostics, or a new biotech injectable or pill, no matter what you look at, there is no scenario where clinical impact, economic impact are no longer important."
Evidation employees have the right mix of consumer technology, web analytics and Big Data analytics expertise combined with the classic medtech, biotech and pharma world expertise to be able to pull this off, Kilpatrick believes.
"We come from this very mashed up set of worlds that allows us to be pretty competitive in what we are offering because we can come at problems with radically different viewpoints [that] are neither pure healthcare nor pure digital," she explained.
Other CROs also perform health economics studies and outcomes research, but Kilpatrick contends that there is more to validating a technology and quantifying it.
"What I say we do better than anybody else is the quantification of outcomes on the basis of medical data, behavioral data and contextual data," she said.
Evidation was formed in December 2014 as a joint venture between GE Ventures and Stanford Healthcare, but didn't come out of stealth mode until March. Currently, the company's customers are health plans, digital health companies and pharma companies. Sometimes large providers considering running pilot programs may also approach the startup.
"The best examples of who pays us are the health plans, the digital health companies pharmaceutical companies that are wanting to test something in a given population," Kilpatrick says.
Humana is a customer but Kilpatrick declined to be more specific about what projects Evidation Health is conducting on the recently acquired insurer's behalf. She is also mum on who else the startup's customers are.
But Kilpatrick did offer an example of how nimble and thorough and definite its analytics engine and recruiting capabilities can be. Back in May, Fitbit, the consumer fitness wearable company filed to go public and made certain usage and marketing claims around how active and engaged its uers were. Online news company BuzzFeed approached Evidation Health to see if the startup could validate those claims.
"So within 72 hours we designed a study, deployed a study and got back [the results] - we are talking about thousands and thousands and thousands of consumers - where we basically said 'Yeah, we agree that their claims are what is going on in the marketplace.'" Kilpatrick explained.
The study was done using Evidation Health's AchieveMint platform, a website that allows users to earn rewards with the health and fitness apps they already own and use. The results were reported through BuzzFeed, which did not sponsor the study.
"Could you imagine another time where you are being asked to this in 72 hours, and you can deploy a study among 20,000 people and 6,000 people enroll and participate and have it done ..." she asked rhetorically.
The Fitbit example was for a consumer application but that same capability can be leveraged for medical technologies to arrive at a clear result related to how valuable digital health technologies across various therapeutic areas are.
"We believe that value is based upon clinical impact and economic impact and what we are able to do now which we were never able to do before is measure patient behavior 24/7," she said. Couple that with medical data and contextual data, [and we can] redefine what clinical and economic benefit mean."
Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb
[Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com user mediaphotos]