MaRS Impact Health Event: Changing health behaviours through digital access
One of the many interesting things the digital revolution has brought us is eliminating traditional barriers to mental health access. Quite a few interesting startups were at the MaRS Impact Health event two weeks ago. Among the venture showcase:
- Using digital access to match people with physiotherapists and improve treatment adherence. (Curv Health)
- Drastically reducing the time to an accurate skin diagnosis using AI to do the initial screening. (Skinopathy)
- Using a digitalized process to replace traditional manual recruiting for clinical trials. (Honey Bee Health)
- Because medical knowledge is growing exponentially, a startup is resolved to create a system to deliver relevant insights to the physician. (Verto Health)
In summary, these startups are acknowledging that the time-lag problems caused by traditional recruiting processes for clinical trials, and triaging/specialist referral processes are very real and have severe economic consequences. They are acknowledging the limitation of human capacity and seek digital access as a way to deliver healthcare solutions to the consumer where they are.
What about other ideas and trends we’ve noticed?
- Social media platforms have become a point of convenient access. Pinterest has created its own content while a multitude of mental health startups uses social media to drive consumer interest to their website.
- EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) is premised on the presumption that employers want to improve productivity when they offer convenient and immediate mental and physical healthcare resources or access to their employees. Because the quality of healthcare delivered is important, these startups that sell to employers are also proving that their tech-enabled solutions are indeed more effective than traditional pathways to healthcare.
Takeaways for further reflection
- A founder has expressed that selling to B2B is selling specific use cases. In fact, when is it ever that in other scenarios businesses aren’t selling use cases? People want to use the product for specific purposes, showing examples where they’re using these products to improve their outcomes.
- Philanthropy and Health Innovation. Did you know that philanthropy investment is also based on return potential? Very cool to see non-profit foundations such as the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation being able to dedicate investment towards research-based startups.
- Environmental Variables such as taxes and other policies affect hiring and talent acquisition. This hits home so hard for the industry I’m targeting — the licensed therapists. With technology and tele-health enabling geographical access, archaic licensing rules that limit therapists’ practice areas in certain areas present artificial barriers to access.
Because Healthily Match is also in the same digital health space, we’ve observed so many startups are solving similar problems: timeliness to access to mental healthcare, relevant matching of issues and therapists, and mental health coaching.
Having a vision is about setting a clear goal and purpose for the startup, and then trying (hopefully, innovative) methods to get there.
I remember talking to my family doctor and also from attending another health tech conference. She did not believe that technology will improve access because there are certain marginalized groups that lack basic internet access — which is the pre-condition to take advantage of most of these new technologies.
With technology, there comes the expectation that personalization is going to be key.
In summary, I think this goes back to pointing out how marketing segmentation is so important — that different segments of customers have different needs, behaviours, lifestyles etc. With technology, there comes the expectation that personalization is going to be key. Adoption barriers have very real implications for a startup that is looking to grow rapidly. Are customers educated enough to use your product? Do they tend to be risk-averse and don’t like change? There is now an expectation that successful products are sufficiently easy-to-use across all customers segments in order for the product to have scalable potential.
After listening to these founders showcasing their startups, the key barrier remains: how to drive adoption to the masses? For certain people, it might appear the core barrier is access. For founders, finding the right business model, accessing the right distribution channels, and building the right product remains to be a challenge.
Follow Us on Social Media
We’re on a mission to empower therapists to do their best work and improve access and equity in the quality of mental healthcare delivered.
What does this mean?
This means we’re building technology that helps therapists track and prove the clinical efficacy of their treatments so that they save time managing clients, communicating and sharing these results with their clients and other doctors.