Guest Blog: Here’s What you Need to Know Before Investing in mHealth
The ‘mHealth revolution’ is real but it needs to be better understood. Every page and blog you read talks about how mobile health will revolutionize medical care. The mHealth market is growing by leaps and bounds and more money is being poured into this segment than any other. This may all be true, but the wise investor needs to understand, like in any sector, what is significant and what is all pomp and circumstance.
There are a myriad of opportunities that promise to change the way medicine is practiced, but the investor needs to understand that physicians are archaic and do not like change! Even if it’s a change that, in the long run, can help them do their job better, it will be monumentally hard to get that first buy in. This cannot be underestimated when evaluating a company.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that practitioners are also very slow to adapt if the science does not support it. The company that has only the proof of concept study done and is looking to raise for the pivotal trial needs to demonstrate a robust clinical trial that actually answers the question; does this product do what it says it will do? Study design is critical and should not be overlooked. Often more than one study in different patient populations is critical, and very helpful. Often the innovation is focused at the patient and is perceived as more ‘gimmicky’. Sometimes this allows the patient to pick up the tab if it’s seen as a true help to what they are trying to accomplish, for example weight loss apps, or conception assist apps.
Many mHealth startup entrepreneurs like to discuss the unmet medical need, and address the gaps. But while the gaps being filled might seem initially important, it’s vital to ask, are these gaps real or perceived, and even if they are real do the practitioners see this gap as a bother? Are these servicing going unmet to patients as well? Lastly, if these gaps indeed do exist and this new product or service is meaningful, will a third party payer actually agree? Often the last to the party is the most important key, the insurance company- be it HMO or government payer. They are the last to agree to any of these innovations and need to be thought of early in the development process. Often market research with payers can be very helpful to prove this, at least questions on what needs to be done to gain coverage etc.
A company must make sure to address these three relevant parties, to ensure that their product/ service is something worth talking about:
- Physician acceptance, understanding and willingness to adapt
- Patient acceptance and need
- Market access- will this make a difference in the healthcare equation
Investing in mHealth is more than just ‘This looks cool.’ Sometimes it works, but more rigor is needed during the diligence process to protect investors and their money.
Dr. Herman Weiss, MD MBA, has been involved in the medical field for almost two decades in many different aspects. Trained as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Dr. Weiss was a partner in a private medical practice in New York for many years. After moving to Israel and receiving his MBA, Dr. Weiss started to become involved in the biotech startup scene- founding, consulting and managing several different innovative companies. For the past five years, Dr. Weiss has been the Global Medical Director of the Women’s Health Department at Teva Pharmaceuticals- the world’s largest generic drug pharma company. He can be reached here.