Internet Trends for Healthcare

Mary Meeker, former Morgan Stanley and current Kleiner Perkins Partner, is delivering her ever-popular annual Internet Trends presentation this week. Broadly speaking, beyond health tech, it’s a fantastic, dense report of trends in the tech industry. It covers cloud, mobile, commerce, and just about everything else related to tech. I recommend spending time on it, even if you skim sections that you don’t think are relevant or interesting. It’s widely read and respected in the tech and VC industry.

It’s not surprising to see mobile consumption continue to grow. Tablet growth is exceeding even the peak of growth for PCs. Android has the bulk of the smartphone market. An interesting trend is the massive growth of US-made mobile operating systems (Android, iOS, and Windows), which grew from 5 percent of the market eight years ago to 97 percent. That staggering dominance over BlackBerry, Nokia, and Linux is amazing to see quantified.

This year’s report also includes several relevant trends in healthcare, something I don’t remember being covered previously. The lead-in to the healthcare section of the report is that healthcare may be at an inflection point. The reasons given for optimism in healthcare are below.

  • Digital technology enables change. Meeker accurately states that healthcare relies on antiquated systems. Good point, but what most people find in healthcare is that technology is only one piece of the solution. It’s why we see so many technology-enabled services in healthcare. It’s also why I talk to so many startups that begin with only a technology (app or platform) and end up adding services to manage and use that technology.
  • Government-enabled change pushes technology. Again, very true, but I’d argue this is in conflict with the point above because HITECH is largely pushing antiquated systems,and these are not helping move things faster.
  • Consumerization of healthcare. This is a trend that I did not think would move this quickly. Doctor review systems and apps are growing in popularity. This will accelerate

Meeker follows up with data in support of the trends towards digitization in healthcare.

  • Digitization of healthcare happening. More providers are using EHRs, consumers want to message docs, and more investments are being made in digital health.
  • Quality over quantity incentives being implemented. Both providers and payers have motivation to engage patients and ultimately improve care instead of increasing volumes. Employers are also increasingly offering services for employees related to health and wellness.
  • Patient engagement rising and yielding results. Meeker cites Redbrick, Teladoc, Mango, and WellDoc as examples of companies that are engaging patients and generating data to show that it works in reducing costs and/or improving outcomes. Kleiner portfolio companies get good coverage in this report.

Beyond the few healthcare-specific slides, there are several other sections that are relevant for connected health. I’ve tried to break those out below.

  • Rise of invisible apps. These are purpose built, not apps built to do several things or even be used every day. You only open these when needed. Breeze, by Runkeeper, is a good example. With Healthbook on iOS, I think we’ll see more of these invisible apps for activity tracking.
  • More data from passive monitoring. Sensors are getting better and more widespread, whether they are in the phone itself or a bracelet, shoe, or toothbrush. More data means big data means more intelligence on each individual based on analyzing that data. This data will be used for much more than health and activity, with marketing being the main use case.
  • More data uploaded. With the ease messaging and sharing multimedia over mobile, users are uploading more content. In healthcare, with a push towards more patient-self reporting, this is a powerful trend. The incentive to share has to exist, as it does for social data (messaging, photos, videos, etc.) but the foundation is being laid.
  • Processing is cheaper and the cloud is growing. Not directly health related, cloud computing resources are becoming cheaper and used more, even by larger enterprises. With cloud computing comes more data accessibility. In healthcare, security and privacy remain major hurdles for widespread cloud adoption.

The report is 164 slides in total, so it takes a while to get through even if skimming sections. Whether you agree with Meeker or not — and I think she’s light on healthcare-related IT trends — it’s worth reading to understand what the broader thinking is about health tech.



Travis Good is an MD/MBA and co-founder of Catalyze. More about me.

  • Matthew Holt

    “Kleiner portfolio companies get good coverage in this report.”

    I noticed that too–hahahahha

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