Have you noticed all the digital health “accelerators” and “incubators” out there? I count the following, in alphabetical order:
- Avia, Chicago, which is partnering with HIMSS
- Blueprint Health, New York
- DreamIt Health, Philadelphia
- Health Wildcatters, Dallas
- Healthbox, with programs in Chicago, Boston, London and soon in Florida
- HealthXL, Dublin and London
- The Iron Yard, Greenville, S.C.
- New York Digital Health Accelerator, New York
- Nike+ Accelerator for exercise, fitness and sports, Beaverton, Ore.
- PhiloMetron, San Diego
- Rock Health, San Francisco and Boston
- Sanotron, Vancouver, British Columbia
- South By Southwest Interactive, Austin, Texas
- StartUp Health, a New York-based “network and academy for health and wellness entrepreneurship”
- Tigerlabs Health, Princeton, N.J.
- WellTech Funding, New York
In addition, the USC Center for Body Computing has announced plans for its own incubator/accelerator in Los Angeles, but we continue to await details.
That’s a lot. Is it too many? We have seen plenty of failures in digital health entrepreneurship over the years, in no small part because too many companies don’t understand the unique economics of healthcare, particularly in the U.S. With the possible exception of fitness products, direct-to-consumer simply does not work in healthcare because most of the expenses are paid for by third parties. (I’d argue that wellness and fitness are distinct from traditional healthcare anyway because healthcare really does focus on sick care.)
At least one report from the California HealthCare Foundation backs up my belief that the DTC focus is a recipe for failure, one reason why health accelerators probably have it harder than their counterparts in other industries.