January 20, 2014 By Kristin Sims-Kastelein
NEW YORK—As an investor who has raised more than $50 million, Christopher Wasden managing director at PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), has earned his controversial views on disrupting the current hospital and physician centric healthcare systems.
Christopher Wasden: Too often, we think that the doctor is the most important person in healthcare—the decision maker and the prescriber. In reality, the doctor is the last adopter. They are only going to adopt it once the consumer has shown them that it is valuable.
Some of these mHealth companies that initially tried to launch their service through doctors gave up and created a consumer version. It is actually easier to get consumer uptake than to get physician uptake.
Physicians see themselves as scientists. They need to have double-blinded, longitudinal studies. They are never going to use a device that isn’t paid for by an insurance company. There are huge barriers for doctors to drive this, whereas consumers don’t have to have clinical trials, and they don’t need insurance to pay for it. Once they have done it, then doctors will figure out a way to adopt it.
Increasingly, we have to ask ourselves how to create compelling consumer oriented value-propositions so we will hit a critical mass and so that doctors will now incorporate it as effective medicine.
ACO: There is a plethora of health and wellness apps in the marketplace. Where is mHealth in managing chronic conditions?
Wasden: It is not as if we are just starting to see disease-oriented apps. There are thousands of apps that claim to manage chronic conditions. There are more than 700 apps that say they control diabetes. Here is the issue: We have created an ecosystem of apps that are almost useless.
ACO: What can the mHealth market do to improve the quality of apps on the marketplace?
Wasden: There are six principles that drive the adoption of a successful mHealth app.
1. Integration: The app has to be integrated into the lifestyle of the patient and physicians have to integrate it into their workflow.
2. Interoperability: From a technological perspective, apps must share information and work across information technology systems.
3. Intelligence: It can’t just give you the data that you gave it. It needs to give you insights from the data that create changes in your behavior.
4. Social: You have to be able to share the information with a community that supports you in your behavior change.
5. Engaging: It has to be fun to use. You must want to use it and come back time and time again.
6. Outcomes: It has to collect information, show a change in behavior, and deliver better health outcomes.
If you look at the majority of apps out there, they don’t fulfill one of my six principles.
ACO: What is the reason that mHealth apps aren’t being built on these principles?
Wasden: Part of the reason is that the FDA is more likely to review your app before it gets issued to the public. I am not saying that this is right or wrong or good or bad, but a result of that is that a lot of companies say they would rather create a dumb app for a device so that it doesn’t have to get reviewed by the FDA and they won’t have to deal with regulatory issues.
ACO: What is your advice to mHealth developers?
Wasden: My advice is don’t be afraid of the regulatory approval process. Focus on the six principles that will create value in the health care ecosystem so that these apps become useful. At the end of the day, if we are not changing people’s behavior, we are wasting our time. Fifty percent of healthcare costs are associated with the wrong behavior. All of these technologies are all about changing the behaviors of consumers and clinicians.
ACO: Where do you see the market heading?
Wasden: The mHealth market has exploded, but it has exploded in volume not value. There are millions of dollars being made on apps. The vast majority is not bringing value.
We are moving from volume of apps to apps that are more valuable. As we do that, we will see consolidation, and effective apps will be integrated into other solutions.
Christopher Wasden is managing director of global healthcare innovation leader at PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), where he advises clients on technology and business models that disrupt the current hospital and physician centric system and put consumers in charge of their healthcare experience. Prior to PwC, Wasden spent nearly a decade as a medical technology entrepreneur, raising $50 million in angel and venture capital; and several years working in public and private companies, leading their corporate finance.