Busy quarter for digital health but pharma still absent

By Brian Dolan
04:40 am

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIt turned out to be an eventful second quarter. While the first three months of 2013 were peppered with notable launches, acquisitions, and shutdowns – for the first half of Q2 not much news was shaking in digital health.

In recent weeks health plans and providers launched important data sharing initiatives; a high-profile mobile health company secured reimbursement and – perhaps more importantly -- true mobile health Rx; and the usual suspects traded letters to the government to either slow down or speed up the release of regulatory guidelines (depending largely on how long they have been working to influence those guidelines).

Who says things slow down once summer starts?

Last week MobiHealthNews hosted a webinar focused on the first half of 2013: A Digital Health Midyear Review, which is now available on demand for those who weren’t among the 1,000+ that signed up to join us live. My presentation covered some highlights from the year so far – which are written-up more in-depth in our Q1 report and (just released) Q2 Mobile Health State of the Industry Report – both on sale in the MobiHealthNews Research Store. (Use discount code "mobimidyear" for 20 percent off our Q2 report.)

One of the questions I posed both in our Q2 report and in the presentation last week was:  Where’s pharma? Earlier in the year we had heard that this group was set to make some major mobile health news in 2013, but so far all’s quiet on the pharma front. Forbes columnist David Shaywitz agreed with my assessment and added up the relevant digital pharma news that has trickled out in the past few months:

“Top of mind examples include the continued investments from Merck’s Global Health Innovation fund, Sanofi’s efforts around diabetes solutions, and J&J’s Masterclass in Europe.  But the contrast between the transformative potential of digital health in characterizing disease and contributing to impactful treatments, and the investment by pharma in actually doing this, remains striking, emphasizing the intrinsically conservative nature of pharma, and their inclination to do just enough to stay off the radar, rather than demonstrate any meaningful leadership in this area.”

Perhaps the latter half of the year will reveal those predicted demonstrations of digital health leadership. As we’ve noted, with WellDoc’s BlueStar launch and Proteus Digital Health’s war chest, the pieces seem to be in place for some kind of major partnership announcement.

While both pharma and mobile operators had a slow first half, payers and providers ramped up with important launches and an increasing focus on patient tools. The half dozen or so acquisitions included mostly small, undisclosed deals – but Jawbone-BodyMedia and athenahealth-Epocrates stood out as important, promising mergers if not examples of exits that pointed to runaway financial success.

In our Q2 report we summarized the most important news and events – including more than 100 metrics from market research and surveys that were released during the past three months. This report also pulls together more than 20 investments rounds that startups disclosed during the quarter and also summarized the twists and turns of the FDA regulatory narrative that played out during the quarter along with the handful of digital health regulatory clearances from the agency. If you want to catch up on recent digital health news -- be sure to get your copy today.


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