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What are the taxonomies that differentiate software, provider organizations, and patient apps in digital health?

Brendan Keeler

Head of Product at Flexpa

Like I mentioned earlier, five years ago, if I was making a digital health tool, it was a scheduling app that would sell to Sutter Health or University of Pennsylvania, or these edge software pieces that are business associates of these covered entities. I think, fueled by the pandemic, fueled by a number of different societal trends, we're seeing virtual become a very viable paradigm and one that is superior, in many ways, to traditional health systems. However, traditional health systems largely are, as incumbents but also by nature of how they've evolved, not really able to take advantage of it natively and foundationally. So, digital health provider organizations, which five years ago, were shunned because “it's services”, “it's operationally heavy and not SaaS”, are now becoming increasingly viable and interesting to investors.

Those digital provider organizations, you see things more like, again, Omada, Teladoc, etc. You see Spora Health. There's a new one every day. There's no shortage of talking to these groups, and they're really exciting because not only can you segment them by disease or by the group that they serve but also by their go-to-market. They could be direct-to-consumer. They could be B2B2C or B2C2B. They could be going to employers or payers. They could be going and trying to get in-network.

There's just a million varieties of these under the sun, especially in the way that the market has been lately with funding. Perhaps that changes if the market changes. And then, lastly, there's wellness apps, things that fall outside of HIPAA that are not covered entities, from Peloton, which is health and wellness, to a personal health record like a OneRecord or something, and those have increasing viability because of a regulatory change that is enabling them to have really powerful channels to access data in ways that just weren't even thinkable or possible a couple of years ago. The jury is still out to say, "Well, who adopts a personal health record? How do you monetize a personal health record? How much?" 

In that space, I typically like the wellness apps a bit more. People who want to be fit are going to go and use a Peloton or something, or people that want to measure their blood glucose, or whatever, can use Levels (or whatever that one is) versus, "Let me just aggregate the data." Does it yet have full utility, or has it fully been productized in a way? But I think it will be as, increasingly, they're able to do more and more.

Find this answer in Brendan Keeler, Senior PM at Zus Health, on building infrastructure for digital health
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