Today’s Digital Health Solutions Landscape
A Report from Wired Health 2023: Interview with Fabrizio Bellina, Director of Digital Health Solutions, Alira Health
Digital technologies are rapidly changing the way health solutions — and the knowledge that supports them — are generated, impacting the entire healthcare ecosystem. We spoke with Fabrizio Bellina, Director of Digital Solutions at Alira Health, who attended and presented at Wired Health 2023 in Milan, to learn more about the challenges facing and MedTech companies as they look to bring digital health solutions to the market.
With over 15 years of experience in Italian and European pharma and diagnostics and expertise in healthcare business models and public-private partnerships, Fabrizio holds an Executive MBA and a degree from Harvard. At Alira Health, Fabrizio supports and MedTech companies in entering the industry with the right data generation and business strategies to support the humanization of healthcare processes.
What digital health challenges were discussed at Wired Health 2023?
The healthcare ecosystem – with stakeholders including pharmaceutical companies, MedTech companies, venture capital, care providers, and consultants like Alira Health – faces several challenges when it comes to digital health solutions.
- Privacy and security: Protecting patient data and maintaining confidentiality is a major challenge in digital health today.
- Interoperability of data: Different healthcare systems and technologies often have difficulty communicating with each other, making it difficult to share patient information and coordinate care.
- Regulation: Right now we lack clear regulation, but as the digital health industry continues to grow, so does the need for regulation to ensure patient safety and quality of care.
- User engagement and adoption: Encouraging patients and providers to use digital tools can be challenging, particularly for those who are not tech savvy.
- Reimbursement and funding: There is a need for a more clear reimbursement model for telehealth services and technology, particularly as healthcare systems and insurers struggle to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape.
- Tech integration: Integrating new digital technology into existing healthcare systems can be challenging, particularly if there is a resistance to change or lack of technology expertise.
- Ethical: As with any new technology, there are ethical concerns around issues such as data ownership, informed consent, and the potential for bias, especially when you integrate algorithmic decision-making processes.
How can sponsor companies overcome these challenges if they want to explore the field of digital health?
Digital health solutions require careful planning and implementation to ensure success. Pharmaceutical and MedTech companies must consider the unique challenges and opportunities of the digital health landscape and adapt their business model accordingly. A willingness to change the business model is key, because companies must switch from a product-focused approach to a service-focused approach. In other words, not only creating a digital health solution but also providing ongoing support and maintenance to ensure that the product continues to meet the needs of patients and care providers over time. This may involve developing integrated solutions that combine multiple technologies and services in a unique design to provide a seamless patient experience.
Companies need to engage in strategic planning that takes into account the long-term sustainability of the digital solution. This planning should involve conducting market research to understand the needs and preferences of patients. In addition, companies must be prepared to invest in ongoing research and development to ensure that the digital health solutions remain relevant and effective over time. It may involve collaborating with care providers to identify new use cases and potential areas of improvement.
We have seen many digital health solutions fail because of a lack of long-term perspective. The key to sustaining these products over time is to approach them as an ongoing service rather than as a one-time product, and to adapt and evolve the business model in response to the changing market condition and customer needs.
How can Alira Health help these companies?
Alira Health is in a unique position because we integrate assets and capabilities and can support pharmaceutical and MedTech companies through the entire lifecycle of the product. Our value proposition for digital health solutions is built on three main blocks:
- Strategic consulting: We help companies with the strategic assessment, the business case, and the business model they need for their potential digital health solution.
- Patient engagement: We help companies listen to the patient and the ecosystem, ensuring that the solution is patient-centric.
- Real-world solutions: To achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over time, companies must demonstrate that their solution works; we help generate real-world evidence.
We support digital health solutions from end-to-end, starting with strategy, engaging with patients, demonstrating value, and succeeding in the marketplace.
What did you present at Wired Health 2023?
The topic was how open innovation is transforming the digital health sector, enabling collaboration between different stakeholders and leveraging real-world evidence data to develop new solutions.
I presented with Alfredo Cesario, CEO of Gemelli Digital Medicine & Health (GDMH). GDMH is a new spin-off of Gemelli Hospitals, focused on providing turn-key digital health solutions. Alira Health and GDMH are collaborating to build, in partnership with patients, digital health solutions that enable a full spectrum of use cases, including Decentralized Clinical Trials, Patient Support Programs, and DTx for pharma, MedTech, providers, and the payer community.
Our presentation focused on how developing effective strategies and business models in healthcare requires a collaborative approach, which can foster digital health solutions in Italy and beyond. We believe that this type of collaboration, such as the one between Alira Health and GDMH, is essential for creating a more patient-centered and compassionate healthcare system.
What was your major takeaway from the Wired Health conference?
My major takeaway from the conference was that many companies need guidance in the management of health data and leveraging clinical practice data for research. Alira Health can help them to develop high impact solutions that prioritize patient needs.