February 1, 2022

6 Digital Health Takeaways From CES 2022 That Will Change Healthcare as We Know It

Entrance to CES 2022

Digital health investments skyrocketed in 2021, increasing 79% from 2020, according to a year-end report by CB Insights, a marketing intelligence firm. This growing digital transformation within the healthcare industry was highlighted at CES 2022, with one of the main-stage keynote presentations by Robert Ford, President and CEO of Abbott. Ford discussed his vision and the promise of healthcare technology: to bring care that’s more personal and precise, proactively manage health, detect disease early, and even prevent it from happening in the first place.

This was a sentiment that was recognized across industry leaders, with many of the brightest within healthcare sharing how digital health will continue to disrupt the healthcare system as we know it. Read on for our top digital health takeaways and the opportunities for pharma:

Big Tech Will Find ‘Wedges’ Into Healthcare
Tech companies will channel their core competencies, making bets on the healthcare ecosystem. For example, Amazon, as a supply chain management company, strategically rolled the dice with their acquisition of PillPack back in 2018. We’ll see more of this disruption in 2022 and beyond.

Why This Matters for Pharma
Big tech and start-ups will bring new partnership opportunities, potential for digital transformation, and an open innovation to tackle some of your brands’ biggest challenges. We also sensed that we’ll see more acquisitions of biotech companies by big tech as they make even bigger bets to break into the healthcare space.

“With digital health innovation, the challenge we see now is fragmentation, with start-ups trying to solve a very specific problem within a silo. Big techs have a responsibility to be an ecosystem player, to create unification of some sort, or do things that are hard to do at scale.” – Hon Pak, Chief Medical Officer, Samsung

Healthcare Is Shifting Further Into the Home
The hype around telehealth and remote monitoring solutions was a key topic of discussion, with a universal sentiment that the technology is here to stay. As smart home solutions continue to break further into the mainstream, there will be more opportunities to integrate healthcare solutions into the home digitally.

Why This Matters for Pharma
It’s critical to evaluate patient and HCP experiences in the context of a virtual care setting. While every disease state will have nuances, there may be new brand opportunities to reach new patients or create beneficial adherence tools.

“For health systems, virtual care and telemedicine was once a ‘shiny, cute thing’, but since the pandemic, it’s become a key part of care delivery. If we don’t offer it, we will lose patients.” – Dr. Tania Elliott, CMO of Virtual Care, Ascension

Mental Health Innovation Showcased as a Success Story
The mental health category has seen massive transformation via adoption of digital tech. DTC telehealth companies, especially those that treat the full range of mental illnesses, have grown rapidly and are using data to aid clinicians and benefit patient outcomes. According to a December 2021 study from the Consumer Technology Association, the top adopted tech to address mental health by consumers is fitness trackers, virtual care, and mindfulness/meditation apps.

Why This Matters for Pharma
There are virtual-care companies in nearly every disease state and category now, all using a model similar to those that have had success in the mental health space. There is still vast potential to connect wearable data, remote monitoring, and virtual care to improve patient outcomes.

“One of the best things that we are doing, with the use of digital technology, is arming our patients with insights from their [wearable] data. We can gear big data for good in healthcare.” – Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, Senior Medical Director, Included Health

Digital Will Drive Value-Based Outcomes
Within the traditional healthcare payment model, health systems get paid for the more they do, not the quality of care they provide. Data-driven telehealth companies like Cerebral have been able to get backed by most insurance companies through their outcomes data. The use of data will continue to expand beyond clinical decision making into payer decision making and reinforcing value-based outcomes models.

Why This Matters for Pharma
Brands have the unique opportunity to think about how they can integrate digital technologies as companion tools to their therapies that will offer real-world analysis of data, funneling insights to both physicians and patients that may improve outcomes, and ultimately back to the payer to demonstrate outcomes-based data.

“The status quo does not measure outcomes. The payment model has to change; it should be outcomes based.” – Dr. David Mou, Chief Medical Officer, Cerebral

The Ultimate Potential of AI Is Still in Progress
There has been substantial investment and growth of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) within healthcare. From predictive analytics to clinical decision support, the tech has continued to find powerful use cases. However, the verdict remains out around much of the untapped potential, from helping caregivers navigate the complexity of the healthcare system to making administrative aspects of healthcare less complex and costly. Ultimately, adoption from clinicians and increased collection of remote monitoring / patient data will be critical to reach that full potential.

Why This Matters for Pharma
AI will make every piece of the journey a bit better by using the data of the past to predict improvements into the future. There are many ways that pharma can use AI at an enterprise level, from aiding clinical trial development to becoming more efficient and gleaning meaningful insights on market trends and customers.

“AI will enable us to provide better personalized medicine.” – Dr. Anthony Slonim, President and CEO, Renown Health

Gaming & Extended Reality (XR) Will Keep Patients Engaged
CES showcased multiple VR, XR, and mixed-reality-based devices that aimed to deliver therapeutic benefit, especially within the mental health space. XR refers to “real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables.” Beyond therapeutics, gamification was discussed in ways to help patients take control of their health, and even to communicate data more meaningfully.

Why This Matters for Pharma
There are many exciting opportunities for pharma marketers, especially as the metaverse and worlds of virtual gaming continue to evolve. Brands shouldn’t ignore this untapped opportunity to find new ways to educate and engage patients and HCPs.

“We [as marketers] need to find new ways to engage teenagers and young adults. We have to tap into where they are, and universally, people will stay engaged in an activity they find entertaining.” – Petra Szatmari, Marketing Director, Genentech

To learn even more about what we saw at this year’s CES, check out our recently posted recap, The 5 Top Tech Trends at CES 2022.

Author: Alex Kareotes, Director, Media and Innovation