The digital health sphere has enormously expanded in the last year and a half. The first quarter of this year alone saw $7 billion of venture capital being invested in healthcare services, which is the highest total in the last decade. But this influx of telehealth startups may have negative impacts for consumers as well. As more and more companies dive into developing apps and services to cater to the ever-changing needs of the public, many potential customers are finding themselves frustrated with the influx of options and higher cost that results.
Currently, the largest consumers of digital health services are corporate-benefits executives. Though the increase in options seemed like an innovative way to deal with healthcare administration at first, toting low-cost options and multitudes of services, as more companies begin to dip their toes into the industry, there is an abundance of redundancies to be had. This also means that customers could end up getting charged for duplicative services, or options they have no need for.
Apps to monitor heart health, change sleep patterns, track weight loss products, or even connect customers to medical professionals and prescription services have grown to such a state that now, many companies are beginning to offer apps to aid in employees’ navigation through catalogues of these services.
"We are inundated," said Meredith Touchstone, Director of Benefits at CarMax, "We already have these very big portfolios of vendors. And with all this new stuff coming into the market, there's no way to assess, literally thousands [of digital health services now available].”
It will likely take years for this market to restabilize and for businesses to be weeded out of the sprouting growth. To self-combat this, companies that utilize digital health services are looking for ways to integrate existing medical insurance plans with telehealth services so that it is easier to transfer patient health records between medical platforms, and hopefully take some of the strain off employees attempting to use these services.
Another plan of action is to find a way to cut out the monthly subscription costs of many of these services and instead charge employees for specific services as they are needed, rather than expecting them to pay for services that they might not currently be utilizing. This would allow some users of digital health apps more leniency in using a multitude of services to fit their needs.