The baby boomer generation continues to impact the healthcare field as the sizable population rapidly passes retirement age. But a growing population of senior citizens isn't the only thing changing the medical field.

Here are a few ways medical health trends are impacting startups across the globe.

1. The senior care impact

The Department of Aging estimates 70 percent of baby boomers will require long-term care. This poses a financial issue for those boomers who don't have long-term care insurance and introduces a major issue within the healthcare issue. In 2010, there were seven potential caregivers for every person aged 80 and over, but the AARP expects that ratio to worsen as caregivers age and the senior population increases. AARP estimates by 2030, there will only be four caregivers for each 80-plus senior and by 2050, that ratio will fall to a three-to-one ratio.

Aging2.0 Academy is working to support growth in the long-term care industry. The network nurtures and accelerates startups dedicated to aging and long-term care markets. Companies chosen to participate in Aging2.0 Academy take part in a year-long series of mentorship, Google training, and other support activities designed to help them succeed.

2. A focus on wellness

The health and wellness industry is expected to grow to a $737 billion market within the next five years. Consumers are increasingly taking control of their own fitness, and businesses are encouraging the shift through programs that reward employees for healthy behaviors with lower insurance premiums. Businesses have discovered the benefits of sponsoring gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, and diet programs, which help keep employees healthier and reduce absenteeism.

Wellness-based startups have found themselves in a good position, since businesses have money to spend. Instead of going directly to consumers, wellness startups are going through enterprises, which act as distribution channels for their services. With the Affordable Care Act allowing insurance companies to reward businesses for their wellness activities, wellness startups are in a better position than ever to succeed.

3. Tracking and monitoring

Consumers are already using wearable fitness devices to track daily activities. But healthcare is the next great frontier for wearables, with the medical industry eyeing the technology for use in tracking patient health. Not only are tech startups experimenting with ways to put the technology to use in the medical setting, but they're also working on different ways for tracking devices to be worn. Patients may be able to wear sensors on their ears, as clothing, or as jewelry or glasses.

To get their devices to market ahead of the competition, many digital healthcare startups are circumventing the traditional approach to starting a new business. Instead of waiting endlessly for FDA approvals, this generation, called Healthcare 2.0, utilizes the resources available to them to reach consumers.

4. Preventative care

Technology has progressed so much so that startups are able to offer secure and confidential meetings with therapists for their employees to help them deal with stress. A study called, Sobriety in a Digital Age, completed by The Canyon Malibu found that "nearly 20 percent of people diagnosed with social anxiety disorder actually have alcohol abuse and dependency problems too." As a preventative measure to combat behavioral health problems, mental health issues and stress induces physical problems startups use these online therapy tools as a way to make stress management easy and appealing for busy employees. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, coping skills therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy are common forms of therapy offered with tech therapy.

5. By the numbers

Big data has already earned its place as one of the top "trends to watch". Among the many industries likely to be heavily reliant on analytics is healthcare. In fact, in the first half of 2014, big data-based healthcare startups saw 161 percent more funding than in all of 2013. From pharmaceutical companies to medical laboratories, analytics stands to have a huge impact on the industry.

Among the many startups making serious headway in landing investment dollars is Flatiron Health, which raised $130 million for its efforts to improve cancer treatment. Seed funding of $1.875 million went to Apropose, which helps web designers improve their websites through data-driven analysis. Startups are landing large investments and filing for IPOs by being on the cutting edge of this exciting new field.

Healthcare-oriented startups can connect with consumers and bring in investment dollars by focusing on areas with high demand. By studying the latest trends and working toward those trends, companies of all sizes can take advantage of these opportunities, while also helping fulfill a demand.



Published on: Feb 19, 2015