Examples of Integrated B2B Marketing in Digital Health

Digital health investments continues to grow. Funding reached an impressive $8.1B in 2018, an increase of 42% from 2017 according to a Rock Health year end report with average deal size at $21.9M.

While that is the case, what is particularly interesting is the new wave of partnerships involving traditional health care incumbents and digital health disruptors across the entire B2B2C health ecosystem.  This makes sense considering the time to market for digital health disruptors (new entrants) to launch, go to market and prove clinical validation. However it’s not always new entrants looking to tap into a large customer base (ie access to Insurance members), sometimes it is the opposite – incumbents (particularly Big Pharma) looking to tap into digital health subscribers and a formidable new marketing channel.

Below are three examples of such partnerships which essentially are integrated product marketing plays designed to tap into large consumer segments.

  1. Castlight Health (Digital Health Disruptor) and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Insurer).  
    • According to this press release, Castlight Health and Anthem developed Engage which is an information portal for insurance members. First and foremost, it offers access to information on all of the doctors and hospitals  in a member’s network. In the offering is online guidance and support on health  care questions, after-hours health care support and advice on out of pocket costs for lab tests, procedures and prescription drugs. Engage launched in 2018 to Anthem’s ASO accounts (self insured large accounts) and already has over 20 large employers on the platform.
  2. American Well (Digital Health Disruptor) and Philips (Medical Devices)
    • Philips is leveraging American Well’s expertise in telehealth to offer consults to it’s product users. According to this press release, the relationship now in progress starts with offering the telehealth consults directly on Philips Avent uGrow parenting app which provides parents advice on monitoring their baby’s development for more than 12 million subscribers. Available on both ios and and android devices, a key feature of the partnership with Philips uGrow is letting parents share data  and receive personalized advice from/to healthcare professionals such as a pediatrician via American Well online or via mobile phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  3. 23andMe (Biotech Disruptor) and GlaxoSmithKline (Pharma)
    • Genetics-testing company 23andMe partnered with pharma company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to use subscribers DNA data to develop medical treatments according to this press releaseUnder the deal, GSK and 23andMe enters into a four-year collaboration under which GSK will become 23andMe’s exclusive collaborator for drug target discovery programs. The companies will use 23andMe’s database of more than 5 million customer genetics data to explore drug discovery and targets for development.

Telemedicine is still underutilized says Harvard JAMA Study

A recent study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed claims data from Optum plan data over the last few years, concluding that telemedicine adoption has still yet to take off  – in rural areas. The tip here is the assumption that telemedicine was designed to administer care in hard to reach rural areas.

While there are more state mandates that require coverage of telemedicine as a care option, it is important to note that patients do understand that there is a mix such as  primary care, urgent care and acute care options. This is especially true for consumers who live in urban areas.

So what can be the reason for low adoption in rural areas. Perhaps it has to do with comparing degree of trust in urban vs rural areas. Rural patients may prefer in person interactions as more trusting and may not be as comfortable with relaying private medical information over video.

Much more importantly, is that perhaps consumers are not even aware of the services. Sometimes poor adoption can be improved by better technology integrations – enabling consumers to access such services where they already access other services whether in person or technology bases. This bring telemedicine partnerships in mind such as American Well with Philips, Teladoc with CVS Minute Clinics, MDLive with Walgreens. Although time will tell if the above integrations are the most effective ones for the targeted population.