Digital health is on the rise, and healthcare as a whole is looking to today's most innovative entrepreneurs to solve some of the industry's longstanding pain points.

According to CNBC, over $16 billion has been invested by VC firms into 800+ digital health companies since 2014. And according to Rock Health, over $3.5 billion was invested into 188 digital health companies in the first half of 2017 alone. 

These are companies looking to solve everything from scheduling, big data and analytics, gamifying health habits that healthcare providers can track, mobile telemedicine platforms so patients can interact with doctors on-demand, and patient engagement platforms that aid in surgical recovery processes.

"Digital health as an industry is focused on patient empowerment," said Dr. Nitin Goyal, surgeon and founder of Pulse--a digital health platform that walks patients through their post-operative care following a hip or knee replacement. 

"Healthcare still has a long way to go to make patients feel like they're not just engaged, but empowered, every step of the way," Dr. Goyal said.

One important and often under-discussed aspect of digital health tech is mental health. 

With such profound possibilities for changing the landscape of healthcare in general, mental health care will also be impacted. Many thoughtful and ambitious leaders are pioneering the emotional wellness space by prioritizing the user experience. 

One such example are Anmol Madan and Karan Singh, the co-founders of Ginger.io, a new nationwide medical practice of providers that people can access 24/7. 

"Unfortunately, stigmas and friction prevent individuals from receiving quality care in the traditional health care system. We saw an essential need for a new model of emotional and mental health support. One that made it easy and quick to connect with a member of a dedicated care team regardless of time or location, and that was able to integrate massive amounts of data to inform and tailor a unique experience. So, we built it, from scratch," Anmol Madan stated.

Rather than focusing on specific area of emotional empowerment like anxiety or meditation, Ginger.io integrates multiple services and providers into the same user-friendly mobile application.

Ginger.io gives individuals immediate access to a healthcare team and is designed to help a wide range of people live better, happier lives. Their application allows you to text a coach and receive a response within 1 minute--no matter what time of day.

They also have options for engaging in video therapy with a licensed therapist and seeing a psychiatrist for medications when appropriate. And having all of these options in the same place--at your fingertips--can alleviate a lot of the headaches that come with navigating the traditional healthcare environment. 

Imagine that you are a motivated employee of a large company working in a management position. And then, out of no-where, your company hires new leadership. This new leadership wants to review each manager's productivity and rumor has it that they prefer hiring their own managers.

At this point in the story, you might notice a spike in your stress and anxiety--a completely normal reaction in this case--and you might see the value in getting some additional emotional support. 

Instead of navigating the murky waters of insurance coverage and then sifting through hundreds of therapist profiles only to be put on a waitlist, you could simply download an application and speak to someone. Immediately. From the comfort of your home. At a time that works for you.  

What makes the comprehensive medical treatment network of a company like Ginger.io promising, then, is its accessibility and responsiveness--two things that are lacking in the current healthcare marketplace. 

And when emotional wellness is always one thumb swipe away, there's a greater possibility to start an important dialogue around mental health treatment. 

When individuals have constant access to care without the friction of typical health care practices, more individuals can seek care. More people can discuss their health. And hopefully, more people can improve their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Normalizing the prevalence of mental health challenges and affirming the value in seeking care is one important area health tech may significantly impact. 

And the technology itself offers possibilities of improving health outcomes. 

Karan Singh, co-founder of Ginger.io. said, "Our core technology allows us to inform the type of care members receive, match them to the right care team based on their needs, prescribe the right course of care and map outcome improvement. We have a system of care where information flows seamlessly between care providers and the AI-powered technology, fundamentally changing the experience and improving outcomes."

This intersection of technology and healthcare is rapidly re-shaping the delivery and course of important services.

Between improving health outcomes, fighting the stigma against receiving care, and rapidly expanding the accessibility of care, tech health is rapidly transforming. There is greater freedom.

And that type of freedom might be exactly what people need to heal and live better, more fulfilling lives. 

Published on: Nov 21, 2017