- Erin Bali, Founder and CEO, Carbon Health
- Xiangfei Chai, Founder and CEO, Huiying Medical Technology
- Joel Kirkston, Managing Director, Global Health Innovation Fund, Merck
- Viren Shetty, Chief Operating Officer, Narayana Health
- Monique Mrazek, Senior Investment Officer, IFC
With $15 billion invested in 2018, digital healthcare is a space that is growing rapidly and offers great potential for emerging markets. The panel unpacked latest trends and discussed how to scale up and integrate new technologies into existing systems, while tech developers gave live demonstrations of devices in action.
Xiangfei Chai, Founder and CEO of Huiying Medical Technology, said that collaborating with multiple medical imaging device companies and tapping into their channels was an important factor enabling his company to scale up in China. In addition, microchip manufacturer Intel invested in the company, which helped it to integrate more advanced technology into existing devices. Joel Kirkston, MD of the Global Health Innovation Fund at U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck, said that Merck tended to favor novel therapies such as Immuno-Oncology and was interested in investing and employing technologies that help bring these therapies to the wider community. “If we can go with a vendor into a setting, alongside the provider, to change what may be 5 percent of Stage 4 cancer patients getting an immuno-oncology drug to 25 percent, that’s a win for everybody,” he said.
If we can go with a vendor into a setting, alongside the provider, to change what may be 5 percent of Stage 4 cancer patients getting an Immuno-Oncology drug to 25 percent, that’s a win for everybody.”—Joel Kirkston
The two healthcare providers on the panel reflected on the challenges of implementing and integrating digital health into existing operations. Viren Shetty, Chief Operating Officer of Narayana Health, one of India’s largest hospital chains, joked that he represented “the interests of the grumpy old men of healthcare: the doctors, CTOs, CIOs, administrators” who decide whether to deploy new digital products. “I try to work with innovators to see if it can be integrated within the existing setup rather than bypassing them entirely. While that means we sometimes resemble a plodding dinosaur, it also means you’re able to bring a lot more people along,” he said.
According to Erin Bali, Founder and CEO, Carbon Health, “With the majority of innovations, it doesn’t really work unless it’s plugged into the core healthcare delivery system” as delivery is still mostly done in person, in a physical space. His company’s approach has been first to automate administrative processes as much as possible to save time and cost and then “become the hub of all technology innovation” by putting innovations on a single platform and deploying them as needed through partnerships with providers. They are not interested, he said, in owning physical facilities—rather like how Uber is a transport company that does not have cars, and Airbnb is a hoteling network that does not own buildings.
“With the majority of innovations, it doesn’t really work unless it’s plugged into the core healthcare delivery system.”—Erin Bali