COVID-19 highlights the extraordinary potential of digital health startups, which regulation can empower to further scale. To do so, we advocate building a dialogue with the entrepreneurs behind them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of healthcare. Digital health startups are developing innovative digital health solutions to support healthcare systems and patients, provide new ways of healthcare delivery and improve health outcomes. From telehealth platforms to AI-powered solutions for clinical decision-making to tools for monitoring the spread of the pandemic – startup innovation is transforming the landscape of healthcare and supporting health care professionals in tackling COVID-19.
In these changing times, it is especially important that digital health innovators have all they need to develop top-notch solutions and a clear pathway to scale in Europe. While legislation has enormous potential to empower innovation, it is still too often holding back innovation.
Regulation: Potential to unleash startups
One of the main issues is the fragmentation of healthcare regulations and standards in Europe. The highly regulated nature of the healthcare sector and differing regulatory requirements across member states are challenging, especially for startups. Digital health entrepreneurs describe this as one of the biggest barriers to scaling up. As the European Commission is calling for increased EU competences in health and a stronger health Union, there is a lot of potential for harmonising regulatory requirements.
Other issues include the lack of access to health data, lack of data interoperability, and the fragmentation of rules governing the use of secondary data for research and innovation. The creation of a European Health Data Space has the potential to harmonise health data governance frameworks in the EU and set common standards for ehealth interoperability.
Before regulating startups, talk to entrepreneurs
We believe that policy makers have an enormous potential to empower innovation. However, it is vital for startups to have conversations with policymakers about the barriers facing the digital health community and shaping the future of digital health.
Our Allied for Startups DTx platform gives digital health startups a seat at the policy table. One recent example of our engagement is the report Telemedicine in Europe: challenges and opportunities. We interviewed telemedicine startups from across Europe and shared their 6 recommendations for policy makers. We also share the startup founders’ perspectives in our publications, such as the overview of the European digital health startup ecosystem.
Walking the walk: Next opportunities to see startup entrepreneurs
Another way of fostering dialogue between policy makers and the digital health community is by bringing them together in policy events. For example, our events Digital Health Startups and EU Policy: A day of collaboration and What AI Startup Entrepreneurs think about the EU AI Whitepaper brought together startups and European decision makers to discuss the impact of regulations on health innovation and brainstorm how to move forward with health regulations.
We support initiatives that connect the digital health community and contribute to conversations around digital health. We are therefore glad to be a knowledge partner of Frontiers Health, a global hybrid conference on digital health innovation. On November 12-13, a wide range of stakeholders, including startups and policy makers will attend Frontiers Health to explore digital healthcare innovation trends, policies and partnerships. We will also invite the winners of the Patients’ Digital Health Awards to a webinar with European policy makers on December 9th to discuss the opportunities and challenges the digital health sector is facing.
Overall, the digital health sector is experiencing unprecedented growth, enabled by the technological advancements and the digital transformation of healthcare. If we want to unlock the full potential of digital health startups, it is important to ensure that legislation does not unduly interfere with innovation. To do this, startups should be part of policy dialogue. Allied for Startups brings together startups, policy makers and stakeholders in a variety of formats to lead these conversations on the crossroads of digital health innovation and policy.
If you’re a digital health entrepreneur interested in being a part of our community, we invite you to join the Allied for Startups DTx platform.