Searching for ‘what’s next?’

Next week I am looking forward to attending the Bitz & Pretzels HealthTech conference in Munich, Germany. It’s the first major conference outing for me, since I transitioned into my new role as lead on Digital Health at People Ventures, and I have got a ton of meetings with interesting people lined up and some interesting talks, I look forward to attending.

Going to big conferences always beg the question: What are you looking to get out of it? For me it will be a few different things aside from the networking part.

First of all, I am keen to understand more about breaking the barriers between startups with promising products and the healthcare sector. It is one of those things I often find to be the most challenging for startups to overcome, and something that ALWAYS demand more of them than what they originally had planned for. This goes even when they have done a lot of homework up front. So it is NOT about the startups not understanding the regulatory requirements.

It is one of those issues that we need to resolve in order to unlock the full potential of technology within healthcare. While of course observing regulatory requirements, standards for clinical evidence etc, we should not accept if it’s culture, bureaucracy and other kinds of red tape that hold things back. We should be looking to remove them in smart, efficient and predictable ways, and I am hoping the conference will inspire me in that direction.

Apart from that I am of course looking forward to getting a sense of the level of impact the whole hype around AI is having. What does it mean in real times for healthtech and healthcare, when we cut out all the hype and focus on what is possible, what makes sense, what delivers value and – most importantly – what drives better outcomes.

I am very much in the camp, where I am a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either or’. I doubt believe in radical approaches, as I think there are many obvious reasons why those are generally a bad fit for healthcare. But at the same time, I am fully on the wagon, where we see a lot of challenges, where adding the help of AI might help us all get to the bottom of some of the big things, we have been struggling with, and where a significant breakthrough could have outsize influence for a lot of people.

So AI is definitely something we need to talk a hard look into, and I am curious to experience what the status and shape of the people and companies working in this space are? How far are we from anything meaningful? Is there something extraordinary that characterizes the winning AI team compared to any other ‘normal’ startup team? Yes, I don’t think it is only about the technology – it is also very much about the appliance of security, ethics and values. Exciting times.

Finally, I am looking to see if there are any interesting consumer plays in the digital health space. Overall I think this is a challenging market squeezed on one side from a lack of belief in effect (due to basic lack of clinical evidence perhaps) resulting in a sceptical approach to willingness-to-pay and on the other side a need for alternatives to the established system, operating on the side and helping addressing some of the bottlenecks out there.

(Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)

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