For the past four years, I’ve watched thousands of health and technology influencers, developers, policy makers, business leaders, and others pack themselves into the mHealth Summit for a glimpse at the latest in mobile and wireless health technology. And why not? It’s a good time, and the policy changes, apps launches, and new comers to the field are always worth noting.
But this year, as we head into the 5th Annual mHealth Summit, I’m looking beyond the 300 exhibitors and 450 speakers—I’m following the money to the most promising new mHealth tech.
What choice do I have? Last quarter, as reported by CB Insights, venture capital investors deployed some $1.2 billion to U.S. mobile-related companies, making Q3 2013 the wildest VC financing quarter in history for the Mobile & Telecom sector.
Health IT overall drew $2 billion in funding this year, according to a Healthcare IT News report, but if you look at VC deal volume in mobile, the Health & Wellness sub-industry barely registered in Q3. So, yes, investment dollars are flowing to mHealth, but my take is that, despite the boom, we’re just getting started. That’s likely to be good news for mHealth entrepreneurs as they continue to bring their own innovations to market, and the money works its way deeper into the health niche.
Although VC funding is hardly the end-all-be-all for tech entrepreneurs—and somewhat less relevant to healthcare CIOs—financing trends obviously play an important role in the growth and evolution of mHealth. To the extent that new mobile and wireless devices (and apps) will need to be added, integrated, and supported by health IT professionals, these funding trends could prove very relevant to CIOs indeed.
That’s why one of the presentations I’m most interested in this year is the Venture+ Forum.
Keynoted by Qualcomm Life Fund’s director Jack Young—an electrical engineer and former EVP with the world’s fourth largest mobile phone manufacturer (ZTE)—this session should be eye-opening.
Young, who has questioned the sustainability of current funding trends, believes digital health is at a crossroads. Among other things, he’s planning to talk about the viability of today's boom in mHealth funding, and where investment dollars might trend over the coming years.
Personally, I welcome input from Young and others on this topic, as the industry prepares for the next wave of mHealth technologies that promise to span everything from mobile-clinical integration platforms, to personal genomics, to clinical research technologies.
The Venture+ Forum also will review presentations from 11 mHealth startups, which is always fun and inspiring. So, whether you have a mobile solution on the market, in the works—or you’re just wondering how the next wave of mHealth offerings will impact workflows—there should be some actionable information coming out of the Venture+ Forum. Hope to see you there!
As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.