One area we'll likely see more partnerships is between health insurance providers and technology companies, predicts Tigress Partners' Feinseth.
Health insurance giant Aetna (AET) , for instance, became the first major healthcare company to subsidize a significant portion of the cost of an Apple Watch in September to select large employers and individual customers, announcing plans to offer monthly payroll deductions. The insurer also plans to roll out several health-related apps for Apple's mobile devices to support things such as medical billing and medication adherence.
With a vast array of new opportunities also comes potential obstacles, however, including the susceptibility of connected medical devices to cyberattacks.
Concerns around the potential security threats facing the medical device arena heightened this summer, when short seller Muddy Waters claimed that about half of St. Jude Medical's (STJ) revenues for the next two years were poised to disappear because its pacemakers are vulnerable to hacking; on Monday, Muddy Waters issued a legal brief stating that outside security experts had validated its claims. For its part, St. Jude Medical has refuted the accusations, and industry pundits subsequently wrote that investors' negative reaction to the news was exaggerated.
Still, patient safety is sure to remain front and center for all healthcare and technology parties involved. That includes St. Jude, which on Oct. 18 announced plans to create a cyber security medical advisory board to help improve its standards.
Powered by the new wealth of patient data enabled by connected devices, the healthcare industry is poised for a massive transformation. Coupled with the larger trend towards a healthcare system based on value and not volume, and cutting costs, improving clinical objectives, collecting data, monitoring populations and engaging with patients become infinitely more important.