89% of digital health leaders perceive the industry as risky, says report

Still, nearly nine in 10 respondents to a global survey said they expect their companies to grow in 2021.
By Kat Jercich
11:40 AM

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

A global survey of digital health and wellness practitioners found that although many leaders feel optimistic about the future of the industry, the overwhelming majority also perceive the sector to be relatively high risk.  

The survey, commissioned by specialist insurer Beazley, focused on 376 executives from telehealth companies in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as mobile platforms and life science technology software.   

"Since we wrote our first telehealth risk in 2009, the digital health sector has continued to evolve in line with technological advancements and changing attitudes towards remote care among patients as well as health practitioners, governments and investors," said Evan Smith, global head of miscellaneous medical and life sciences at Beazley.  

"There is a considerable opportunity for this sector and for the insurance industry to strive to deliver better risk mitigation and risk transfer," Smith added.  


The report found that 89% of survey respondents feel they are operating in a "moderate to high-risk environment."  

Although leaders' fears varied by region, the sector-wide risk of greatest concern was misrepresentation by online advertising. 

Other top concerns included cyberattacks (especially among established businesses), inadequate care provision due to human error, and technology or data shortcomings.

When it comes to specific company risks, supply chain instability was ranked as the top concern, followed by practitioner recruitment, economic uncertainty and meeting regulatory requirements.  

At the same time, 90% of respondents said they expect their companies to grow this year, with one-third innovating new services and products and nearly 60% saying they are experiencing expansion due to COVID-19. Nearly nine in 10 U.S. companies said they plan to raise capital in 2021, compared with 70% in the U.K. and only half in Europe and Asia.  

Technology investments were seen as a key growth driver, including more sophisticated artificial intelligence and robotics.  

"AI-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few concrete examples of digital transformation in healthcare that are reshaping how we interact with health professionals, how personal data is shared among providers and how decisions are made about treatment plans and health outcomes," wrote the report authors.  


Telehealth expansion appears to be at a major tipping point, with key players such as Amazon signaling their plans to establish app-based care nationwide.   

At the same time, regulatory requirements in a post-COVID environment are still a massive question mark, which could affect the growth patterns of remote care companies (especially those trying to establish business in multiple states).  


"The [digital health] sector has grown exponentially from the beginning of the pandemic, fuelled by an impressive track record in innovation, a wave of fresh capital, expansion plans and demand," said Smith.


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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