The Tricorder. Bad stock photos. Amazon in health.
That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
THIS is how you diagnose…sort of
Last week I gave a research briefing about trends in consumerization of healthcare and how healthcare delivery is changing. You can get the slides and recording here for free.
One area I took a look at was consumer diagnostics. The holy grail has always been a universal diagnostic tool that patients can use on themselves (the Tricorder for you Star Trek fans). And the dream of a Tricorder is so appealing it’s no surprise how easy it is to rope in consumers and investors alike. For example:
Scanadu hooked people with a great crowdfunding campaign and slick video to sell its device ($149-199 per), raised subsequent rounds of capital, and then…pulled support for the device but kept the patient data. Not a great case study for medicine + crowdfunding.
The reality is that consumer-facing diagnostics are really difficult. The beauty of the internet and mobile is that valuable direct-to-consumer relationships can be built. But that also means that the veracity of claims can be over-inflated (healthcare’s “fake news problem”). It’s regulators’ role to act as a check on companies whose ambitions get too far ahead of medical reality.
This isn’t the first time the FDA has had to step in to a diagnostics company, of course. Two well-known healthcare unicorns have had their own encounters, with pretty different outcomes. I used our Trends tool, which monitors media chatter, to track the “media attention path” for 23andMe and Theranos.
Judging from the above graph, it’s clear how media quickly moves away from a company that corrects course, but loves a continuous bad news train. In 23andMe, we see that it’s possible for a company to form a consumer relationship, and work within regulatory guidelines even after coming into the FDA crosshairs. Hey, even Scanadu managed to closed a round right around the time it shut down its device. As we see even more tricorders and big claims emerge from healthcare startups, regulatory bodies remain a wall to be scaled between a product and the consumer.