Why Healthcare Should Follow Finance's Lead on Patient Engagement Tech

Ryan Black
FEBRUARY 10, 2018


There’s a lot of “level-setting” that has to happen before patient engagement technology reaches the point where it should be, according to one healthcare investor. There is a good roadmap already in place in another industry, though.

“Healthcare has always been a very noble profession,” Taha Jangda said. “But it’s also been very transactional.”

The self-described “medical school dropout turned venture capitalist” thinks patient engagement technology is 3 or 4 tech generations behind where it should be. He points to the excitement over Apple’s recent announcement that its new Health app would include access to one’s own electronic health records: “People got excited that they can just look at their own data.”

When Jangda thinks of patient engagement, he thinks of financial services technology. The banking industry has evolved well beyond just letting people see their financial stats. Seeing an EHR is equivalent to accessing a bank statement, but the technology allows customers to make key transactions, invest, see their financial information from a variety of sources (which Mint allows), and even receive analytics insights about their spending habits to learn ways to better manage their money.

“It’s unfair to speak about patient engagement without the foundation of consumer empowerment,” he said. Were healthcare able to empower patients the way financial services empower customers, people would be able to view their health data not just from 1 source but from many, authenticate and incorporate their own data (such as from wearables, health apps, and manually entry), and receive real-time insights on their behaviors and metrics.

The belief that such technologies are the inevitable path forward has led his firm, HealthX Ventures, to invest in a company like Redox, which stresses EHR integration and interoperability. He said that the engagement capabilities shown in other industries illustrate that healthcare’s patient engagement problems aren’t technological: The market just hasn’t caught up.

But patient engagement technology, when it finally catches up in healthcare, should by no means replace or detract from the patient-physician relationship, Jangda said during a panel at the HealthXL Global Gathering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“There’s a level of comfort, and also a level of empathy, that is critical for healthcare,” he said. “All these technologies need to augment [that relationship].”

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