By Dr. Nicole Gross, Change Team, ARCH

Over the past decade, the connected health discourse has fascinated healthcare providers, patients, governments, technology companies and venture capitalists alike. But what exactly is it that connected health promises to us and how do these expectations work to shape the market? In a recent study, which has been conducted under the academic leadership of Prof. Susi Geiger, we have traced the merits of connected health discourse and how it has changed between 2005 and 2015. Hypes, with their inherent expectations and promises, have supported the development of many new technologies, thus facilitating the dynamic creation of markets and contributing to implementation of technologies in practice. In many ways, promises have become performative which means that they do not describe future markets, but actually produce them.


Recent years have seen a significant explosion in venture capital investment, technology development and promises of a new reality in healthcare, which can be seen in the wealth of wearable technology, sensors, monitoring systems, healthcare apps and platforms which are now available on the market. Yet, connected health is still waiting to unlock its true value for society. Important questions have to be raised, including if and how this flurry of technology development has facilitated connected health’s initial promises of collaborative medicine, improved care and cost savings. Furthermore,a myriad of disappointments have surfaced, including issues of technology integration, slow adoption, problems with data protection and privacy, ignorance of the social aspects of healthcare as well as lack of clarity about who benefits. Connected health is a thriving commercial business for a selected few companies, but if scale and traction is to be achieved, we may have to re-visit what connected health has initially set out to do, and commit to systematic change.

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