Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the health care system in the U.S. has been undergoing revolutionary change. These changes offer many opportunities for entrepreneurs who are redefining health care delivery in line with the expectations of a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers.
Earlier this year, mental health startup ThriveOn won the health category at the South by Southwest accelerator competition.
ThriveOn is a mobile health program for people with mental health issues delivering customized treatment including therapeutic exercises, counseling and diagnostic services that are designed to be easier, faster and cheaper than similar offline care, and with more discretion and privacy than in-person interactions.
Users’ mood, anxiety, stress, sleep patterns and body image are assessed upon signing up and summarized in a well-being report. Personalized programs are tailored according to the results, including psychological sessions based on proven clinical methods.
Startups like Dabo Health are mining publicly-available health information to save lives. The company provides a platform to health care clients to track performance metrics that inform decision-making. The platform also allows various hospitals to share information with each other, effectively accessing one big data pool.
New insurance players like Oscar Health also use big data to offer next-generation health plans that put users in touch with a board-certified doctor within an hour, 24 hours a day. Data is central to the website’s user interface, and the company can benefit from the increased accessibility of medical data due to the Affordable Care Act.
Other startups in the space include Houston-based Village Family Practice, which assists physicians and consumers by delivering high-quality medical care options at the lowest cost, and Fuse Insurance, which helps consumers find health plans tailored to their specific needs.
Bloomberg News predicted that health care spending will reach 20 percent of the total U.S. economy by 2021, so now is the time for transforming the industry — ThriveOn is one of many health care startups trying to do just that. But innovation has been slowed by challenges such as complex partnerships and a tough regulatory environment.
There is also a huge gap between what millennials expect from the system — portable insurance, e-visits with their doctors, texting medical providers for advice, transparency — and what the system currently delivers. And revenue for health care startups isn’t typically high in the early funding stages, which means investors must be comfortable with lower revenues.
Despite these challenges, however, Obamacare reforms have helped some digital health startups make money quickly — unlike a lot of social-focused companies.