More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to medical care, but do have access to cellphones. According to Dirk Schapeler, Director of Digital Health for Bayer HealthCare LLC, the cost that results from patients not adhering to their treatment regimen costs more than $100 billion every year in the U.S. alone. And Schapeler sees digital technology — especially wearable Health Tech devices — as a solution for these and other problems.
For example, a new drug under development by a pharmaceutical company can take 12 years or more to come to market, and cost a billion dollars in the process. Yet from the start of the research process, the odds are only 1 in 100 that a new drug will ever receive approval. Compared with the typical one- to three-year development cycle for a consumer electronics device, prescription drug development is a long and expensive process with little chance for success. “If you had ways to monitor patients better, to gather their vital signs more conveniently,” according to Schapeler, the time and money required to develop and test a new drug could be lowered significantly.
Schapeler pointed out that there are more than 5,000 new digital health startup companies worldwide, and investment in these business is expected to nearly double over the next four years to about $6.5 billion. The odds of success may be long for these companies, but the potential payoff could be enormous. Wearable and mobile Health Tech could improve the delivery of healthcare for both wealthy and poor populations. It could help patients seek medical attention without having to travel to see a healthcare professional, and have systems that will help make sure that they follow treatments and change their behaviors so that they can lead happier and healthier lives.