As a longtime innovator and Stanford and Harvard educated physician and scientist, Daniel Kraft has seen how advances in technology impact patient care and has spoken extensively on the intersection of healthcare and technology.
Kraft, who is also Founder and Chairman of Digital.Health and NextMed Health and General Partner at Continuum Health Ventures, sat down with us Mobile Health News to discuss how his company is investing in digital healthcare companies and the impact new technologies are having and will continue to have on the future of digital healthcare.
Mobile Health News: In your opinion, what is the current state of digital health?
dr Daniel Kraft: In some ways it’s hard to see, but it’s early days. I mean, healthcare is probably the last big industry to go digital. Of course, we still use fax machines and DVD-ROMs to exchange information. And I would argue that while most clinicians are digital natives, few fully embrace this digital side of health and medicine.
You know, I think the challenge now is to switch between solutions and integrate them into workflow and reimbursement so we can really make a difference. So it’s a time of tremendous opportunity and innovation, but rubber isn’t quite on the road yet.
The classic example is Pear Therapeutics, which just went bankrupt, right? A great solution with a good evidence base and reimbursement, but not yet used by enough doctors. So, among other things, it has to be about educating clinicians of all kinds to understand the art of the possible—what’s here and what’s next.
MHN: You’ve seen how digital health has changed so much over time. What kind of digital health companies are you looking to invest in right now?
Power: I co-founded a relatively new fund called Continuum Health Ventures that focuses on seed stage and digital health and we’re seeing a lot of great innovation and entrepreneurs and it’s arguably a better time to be an investor than it was two years ago when the reviews are a bit exaggerated. So there’s a lot of potential for investing in really quality companies with good key problems they solve and unmet needs and a path to regulation and reimbursement.
I think the bigger answer is that people still underestimate how fast things are moving, and AI and ChatGPT are just one great example. And when we create solutions as innovators and digital healthcare entrepreneurs and even as clinicians, we don’t want to be working with a 2023 tech stack. You want to know what is likely to happen in 2025 and 2033.
We look at what we can do with this new era of easy-to-obtain continuous information that will lead to continuous physical assessment, and how physicians and healthcare systems will go through all of this to make it actionable and useful for prevention and Longevity, health span, diagnostics and therapy.
So I look at healthcare as this continuum, from maintaining health and optimizing health, through diagnostics and super-early detection of disease, which is what digital tools can do, to the therapy that can be made possible, be it digital, therapeutic or using these tools to inform your medication, device or surgery.
MHN: Where do you see the future of digital health? How do you think it will evolve as technology advances and clinicians begin to engage more with it?
Power: We’re about to collect massive amounts of data, aren’t we? From wearables to your digitome and microbiome to your sociome to your exposome—then you begin to understand everything in a more integrated, personalized, and accurate way.
And so we can now create huge amounts of data and new insights. The trick is turning big data into actionable insights.
There’s even a whole new field of implementation science. And I think digital health can play a role too, as it’s now moving faster from data insights to action, whether it’s for the human, the consumer, the patient, the clinician, or the healthcare system. And I think where we’re going, you know, it’s an overused term, but let’s go from our healthcare model of intermittent reactive data collected in our own homes to this near future of continuous proactive personalized care anytime, anywhere everywhere about.
And we see sparks of it in different places and in different systems. Again, the trick is to align incentives, workflow, and payment models to accelerate this change, and of course COVID has been a catalyst for this as well.
And we never talked about AR/VR. I like to call it the Mediversum and that with this Generative AI shift, we’re heading towards that world where I can almost envision Generative Health… where you’ll be able to create a kind of health bubble around each individual –the patient and the consumer – who speaks to them in their language, depending on their age, culture and language training.
This adaptive health idea combined with AR/VR/XR can create a user layer that makes interaction very intuitive.
This is where this post on generative health can really help with engagement, as many of these digital tools are often not that memorable. Sometimes they need gamification, sometimes they don’t.
And I think in the end we’re going to be able to connect the UI to some really effective underlying technology and connect the dots. Because when I think about digital health, it’s really about the ability to connect data and insights and connect the dots to shape who you are, where you are and in what settings, including public health and global health. So there are a lot of possibilities and I think it’s just beginning.