The Year of Digital Health – Interview with Matthew Holt

Posted on: 22.12.2017

One can’t deny that this year was one to remember for Digital Health, for so many reasons. Starting off with incredible events such as eHealth Week 2017, eHealth Tallinn and the annual Health 2.0 Europe 2017 in one of the biggest hubs for digital health, Barcelona. For this piece, we were honoured to reflect upon 2017 developments and 2018 predictions with Matthew Holt, the Co-Chairman of Health 2.0 Conferences, which has recently joined the HIMSS family.

What is your “Digital Health Wishlist” for 2018?

More comprehensive solutions available from the health care system for consumers/patients/citizens. Most services like virtual care, remote monitoring and patient advocacy are available now but only in disjointed pieces. It's not hard to imagine what a comprehensive service linked to doctors, clinicians and hospitals looks like. It just needs to be put together at scale.

What are the challenges that digital health startups will face in 2018?

More aggressive demands from customers for clinical evidence (evidence they don't actually often demand of their other vendors or themselves), and potentially a tougher investor funding environment. And of course, figuring out what the European GDPR means and how to deal with it.

Looking back at 2017, what do you think have been the most significant digital health achievements this year?

In Europe, MySugr got a significant exit to Roche and Bayer doubled down on its "dealmaker" commitment to getting internal deals for startups. Also in 2017 there were more significant "US style" investment raises for European and UK-based health tech companies like Babylon, PushDoctor & DocPlanner. The US FDA has been clarifying its strategy towards "digital therapeutics" in a generally industry and patient favorable way. And we all dodged a bullet when the Affordable Care Act wasn't repealed.

What potential do you see in the synergies between Health 2.0 and HIMSS and how do you think this co-location will benefit the European flagship conference coming up in Sitges in May 2018?

HIMSS lives in the world of enterprise & hospital IT, and has generally focused on professional hospital IT people first, clinicians second and patients third. Health 2.0 lives in the world of the cloud and all the associated new technologies and has essentially come from the opposite direction. But now the cloud is real and whatever your role, you have the right to see your data and do something meaningful with it. So the distinction between "enterprise and cloud" or "administrator-clinician-patient" is breaking down and will soon be a historical curiosity. The future is applications accessing data for teams (including patients) to co-create care. It was inevitable that HIMSS and Health 2.0 would meet in the middle. Our "two programmes, one conference" approach in Sitges this May will be the first time we show that to the world.

Are you excited to meet visionaries like Matthew in 2018? Take a look at our diverse programme and networking opportunities available on our official conference website. If you want to follow the conversation around this event check our Twitter Profiles - @health2eu and @himsseurope or keep an eye on the official conference hashtag: #HIMSSEurope18 #health2con

Stefan Buttigieg

Specialist Trainee in Public Health Medicine, Malta