Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5 years mark

Sensotrend published the first launch page for its products on World Diabetes Day, November 14, in 2013. We estimated to launch our service in early 2014. Things have not quite gone as we then thought they would.

This business is really tough. Our peers, other diabetes startups in Finland at the time, were Mendor, Modz, Quattro Folia, and later Femma5. None of them are operational at the moment, we are the only one left. And we’re still waiting to launch our product big time.

Why is that? Where did the other companies fail and why we have struggled so much? Each of the companies can probably best answer for themselves. It seems the simplified version of the problem is that there just is no viable and sustainable business model for self care apps in today’s healthcare industry. We also haven’t seen any of our international counterparts finding the keys to success.

We do see some light at the end of the tunnel, though. A few new companies have risen from the ashes of the failed ones. Glucostratus continues the legacy of Mendor, working with the business model Mendor found to be at least somewhat profitable. People from the core team for Modz are now working with Dottli, a diabetes app that was included in the Top 10 diabetes apps by market share with the most recent Digital Diabetes Care Market report by Research2Guidance. (Yes, the market research company still keeps pushing diabetes as the most promising opportunity in digital health. Each report forecasts the final breakthrough for these apps to be just around the corner.)

The biggest light for Sensotrend came from the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. We recently won an app design competition for the Finnish national PHR, and were awarded a 100 000 euros contract. That’s not enough to really develop and maintain a consumer grade product for a longer term, but when combined with our current revenue and other sources of funding is enough for us to finally bring our product to the wider market.

We see many other very promising signals as well, like how national PHR solutions are being launched on many markets, how big EHR vendors are opening their app stores with clearly defined business models, how mobile PHR solutions like Apple Health and Google Fit keep evolving, and how all the players are converging on a common technical specification, the HL7 FHIR.

We also finally see self care data being used by healthcare organizations on levels beyond just the primary care and patient appointments. This data plays a crucial part when organizations digitise their care paths, when they profile and triage their patients, and when they seek to improve the quality of their care and customer satisfaction. All of that seems to be slowly turning into a business opportunity.

What currently seems even more promising is how big of a buzzword Real World Data currently is for the big pharma companies. We see their interest in the data as a key ingredient in forming a sustainable business models for self care apps.

So, perhaps the final breakthrough for digital health and diabetes apps really is just around the corner. If it is, we feel we’re as ready as we’ll ever be to ride the wave. Even if that time is not just yet, we feel it’s now our turn to contribute big time, and to try and push the industry forward to where we all know it needs to go.