Is Digital Healthcare the new Black?

Gonzalo Simons
4 min readApr 1, 2020

4 minutes read (you can read this while you are preparing your coffee)

Some of the most iconic companies of the next decade will undoubtedly be launched after COVID-19.

If we can see the positive correlations on the 2008 economic crash, some of the most valuable companies emerged from that period (Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Zoom).

With the same logic, the investment ecosystem would expect to see the next big companies working with digital healthcare and education tools.

And why would this happen?

Several factors can address the post-COVID-19 new ecosystem:

A) Future of Work and Education — For the last few years we have heard about the future of work and education, and the COVID-19 pushes us to think that the future is now. The new education and working models have forced us to think 100% remotely, not only about our processes but the input and output through digital platforms.

So, from now on there would be two kinds of industries:

  • Those that integrate into this remote system.
  • Those that do not.

In the middle there will be companies that can integrate a percentage of their processes as remote ones, depending on the communication channels between users, customers, suppliers, and partners.

B) The Future of Healthcare:

The third wheel in all this story is one of the most popular industries these days: Healthcare.

The capacity to diagnose and treat people through video calling (“telemedicine”) seems like the greatest solution for mankind.

But if we go deeper, remote healthcare or telemedicine started in 2002 in Texas with Teladoc Inc. It took us 18 years to reconsider that remote and digital healthcare solutions are the strongest and most needed when it comes to a pandemic situation.

The importance of digital health as a strategic asset is due to:

- “Zero incremental Cost” The access cost for each new user into the platform/service/product.

Imagine 100 people using a mental health platform. The cost of deployment for the 101st user is almost 0 since you have already had your 100% fixed structure.

(You may be thinking, what if we have another 100 people into the platform? Well, the scale of an opportunity will be a new model itself, we could attend people with Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bots, new doctors that are involved in the platform, smart tutorials and new services over the platform).

  • “No Boundaries” Developed a platform that delivers a healthcare service in Africa, South America, and Europe at the same time, with the same professionals and the same technologies. That is correct. The only challenge will be communication, the cultural and language specifics, and your team language skills.

If we go further, any person worldwide could access to the most niche experts in low probability diseases, and it would take minutes to be attended. In Argentina, there are remote places (in the North mostly) with almost no access to a doctor in miles. This technology will not only optimize cost and time but in many cases, it will be the difference between life or death.

  • Scalability: I think the possibility to connect millions of people at the same time, analyzing real-time information and the capability to enrich the whole system is the strongest superpower we have.

If this is a new reality, will there be a futuristic scenario?

Talking with industry experts in the field of robotics, there are several actions combining remote medical software with robots for medical execution, such as delivery robots that prevent doctors from catching dangerous diseases, surgery robots to reduce human error and aid in recovery, or even nanorobots for cancer treatments.

My constructive criticism with the last advantage is the Fixed and Mobile Internet Penetration rates that developed countries have today. That is my main concern and the explanation of why all those remote technologies did not flourish in South America or Africa.

All those emerging technologies could be available at a massive scale (and not only for developed countries) if developing countries invest in internet infrastructure, increasing Mobile Internet Penetration Rates (the average internet penetration rate is 50%).

On the other hand, the cost of building the IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) infrastructure is enormous. Dedicated IoMT IT networks, blockchains, and cloud platforms are all necessary for this thing to be done right. And while the long-term ROI is a no-brainer, the initial cost for setting up such systems is significant.

Those costs will be divided between hardware, infrastructure, apps, and training.

In the end, adoption will occur. It has to and it will. In the meantime, the transition from legacy systems to IoMT will take time, planning, and cash.

It’s critical for the region to involve quick and accessible connectivity along with new healthcare platforms, the combination will be the superpower we need to address the biggest problems of our Century.

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Gonzalo Simons

Head of Strategy at The Cliff | Business Strategy Executive & Startup Founder | WEF, YLAI, WEF Fellow | IESE Executive MBA Candidate 2024 | The future is now