Klick Health

The Quantified Health Grand Prix

VP Strategy

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From big tech to tiny startup, contenders blaze full throttle to the finish line of optimized disease management and prevention. Silicon Valley behemoths have the power, and Research Triangle newbies the agility. How can they together deliver the best performance, and drive the healthcare system to victory? Let's rally...

Chris Dancy continues to enthrall as “the most connected man on Earth”—the living embodiment of the Quantified Self movement, a “Mindful Cyborg” who obsessively measures every measurable aspect of his existence from biological genotype to behavioral phenotype. A brilliant strategist and visionary futurist, he’s also coined such unforgettable neologisms as “digital exhaust”: essentially the zettabytes of mostly ignored information within the 37 trillion cells of the average human body, their interaction with each other, and the world.

By tapping into an infinitesimal slice of all that available biometric data, Chris has vividly demonstrated the utility of digital health on an individual, micro level. But successful disease management and prevention demand a systemic, macro approach, one that evolves Quantified Self to Quantified Health: Creating an integrated technological infrastructure capable of measuring, analyzing, and acting on the inconceivably vast data streams received from and shared across all health system stakeholders and their myriad devices.

With the transformative potential of Quantified Health already at least partially realized in powerful applications from telemedicine to electronic health records, venture capital is pouring into health technology with almost giddy enthusiasm. The race is on for the next breakthrough in oncology, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and hundreds of orphan conditions… With millions of patients awaiting help and billions of dollars at stake, competitors large and small, strong and nimble fear being left behind in the digital exhaust.


Big Name Veterans

Tech titans bring the heavy horsepower, with seemingly inexhaustible resources and expertise applied full throttle to health. The consumer electronics revolution driven primarily by the “Wearable Wars” between Apple, Google, and Samsung continues despite naysayers, fresh optimism predicting an industry paradigm shift. At every turn, however, the realities of security, privacy, and governmental regulatory have slowed even Apple, early excitement around HealthKit down-shifting to ResearchKit and most recently CareKit…

Although amazing tools in the hands of researchers and visionary app designers, these and other wearable software developer kits have had more focused, limited impact. But news broke just last week about a secret project at Apple dedicated to creating a non-invasive blood glucose monitoring tool using optical sensors. Meanwhile Verily, the division of Alphabet (aka Google) dedicated to health continues to not only work on a similar “smart lens,” but an entire line-up of projects ranging from population health to precision medicine.



Microsoft and Intel race along parallel health tracks, focused on exploring the deep connections between biology and computing to hopefully one day crack cancer and revolutionize diagnostics. IBM has also applied mainframe AI brawn to optimizing physician decision-making and patient communications, while star drivers including Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, and Ray Kurzweil pursue the Fountain of Youth via big data, genomics, and hopeful new therapeutics designed to slow and perhaps even stop aging.


Surprising Rookies

If sheer horsepower is the advantage of publicly traded tech companies with billions in market cap, then agility is the strength of smaller and vulnerable, yet inherently less risk averse and more experimental startups. With relatively tiny work forces, little-to-lose attitudes, and some of the top talents in the business, contenders not only brim with epic potential, but race with the determination to enter the hall of fame by creating the next big advance in health tech. The list is long, most will fail, but some will transform the industry.

Spanning a stunning range from cloud-based platforms to FDA-approved medical devices, serving providers to payers, one-off tactics to comprehensive health strategies, noteworthy startups focus on solving discrete challenges in intuitive, actionable, and effective ways. With the “startup incubator” largely dismissed as a flawed approach that wastes capital and talent, investors are discovering the futility of throwing good money at bad ideas. Instead, deep understanding of the health system and its stakeholders is an obvious but often overlooked prerequisite.



A noteworthy example of a game changing startup is Circulation, a new vision for non-emergency medical transportation. Challenge: Lack of access to transportation causes more than 3.6 million patients each year to miss an appointment, costing the healthcare system billions. Solution: A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs, and tech innovators created a centralized service on the Uber platform that has already turned better transportation into better outcomes, positively impacting population health.


Data-Driven Pit Crew

Racers get the raves, but the real hero behind every race is the pit crew. Demanding the ultimate teamwork and coordination down to the hundredth of a second, competitions are won or lost based on how well these high performers serve the high performance cars. But a team is only as good as the information they have available: Fuel burn, tire pressure, engine status. Not surprisingly, “Quantified Racing” has helped transform this industry, too, the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Garage applying big data in astonishing ways for the win.

With sensors on cars and advanced analytics in the pits, teams access over 243 terabytes of data to not only accurately assess status and make split second decisions, but predict problems before they happen, and optimize performance in real time. Business leaders have similarly applied these same skills and knowledge networks to flourishing companies, while the analogy can be taken even further as a convincingly descriptive model for what’s required for success in today’s full service healthcare commercialization partner.



Success is a fast-moving target. Does your agency understand Quantified Health, use data to yield key insights about your customer, and offer curated, fluid, and personally relevant experiences? Whether big brand or small, from pre-launch to expiry, your Klick Health team is a master orchestrator, uniquely positioned to bring you the creativity, technology, and data necessary for the win. We’re eager to use our expertise to break down the barriers between your treatments and the patients whose lives can benefit. Ready? Get set: Go!

More About the Author

Michael Spitz

A digital health expert since before digital health was cool, Spitz has since developed omnichannel campaigns for top pharma and device brands, and helps drive agency innovation, digital transformation, and emerging channels. See him present at conferences, read his blogs, and follow him for the latest trends and opinions on Twitter @SpitzStrategy.

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