Whose Problem Are We Solving?


A couple of years out since Health Tech Accelerator programs became in vogue, I’m seeing complex but phenomenal changes in the healthcare system, all very exciting. Many developments, most borne from digital health/ health tech innovation initiatives are starting to gel but some are still teetering toward a system -driven solutions, often solely meant to improve productivity and efficiency instead of helping solve the pain of the patient. And for years, very limited efforts were laid out to solve the complex challenges of the patient; technology initiatives have always been focused on solving the problem of the healthcare system and for the right reasons. Metrics that define success are hinged on revenues, cost, reduction, reduction in hospitalization, care optimization, operational efficiencies and increasingly value-based outcomes - essentially economics.

When I started Self Care Catalysts, first as a patient research consulting company, the vision was to establish a new research framework to understand the patient, the "what’s, how’s and whys" of patient behavior. I had always wondered how industry and healthcare systems could make big decisions despite a narrow set of data and very limited understanding of patients. Back then, we were trying to challenge the approaches to patient research, primarily focused on retrospective studies and methodologies. Then we realized we're all missing a big component of the patient experience, it's the day to day drudgery, struggles, wins of living life despite illness. At Self Care Catalysts, we formed a new definition for real world evidence, it's following the patients in their world, in real time, over time outside the clinical walls, long paper trails and thick lab reports.

Technology and data became the foundation of the new Self Care Catalysts, so along with other health start-ups, we pivoted and carved a path to continue to solve the problems of the healthcare system, primarily the Pharmaceutical industry through generation of a patient-focused real world evidence. While we consider generation of clinical, labs and genomics data as the underlying basis for healthcare decision-making, the patients' QoL, their behaviors and lived experiences with their illness, treatment, their support system, psychosocial, knowledge or lack thereof about their health have become the focal point of the product that we built. We recognize that it's their personal decisions and actions that matter after all.

Are We Really Simply Going to Focus on the Value of Health Data?

Over the years, healthcare systems have been building up a sea of data, mired with ownership, interoperability, integration, processing issues. Increasingly, many digital health companies began migrating from consumer to enterprise business models.

The rush to find the model that will fit investor requirements, especially those that were fortunate to receive significant start-up capital, several core dimensions critical to the success of digital health are missing or disjointed. It seemed that majority are trying to force fit technology into a complex healthcare eco-system. Before Google andMicrosoft re-entered the healthcare space, they failed first. And today, while there are rising stars in digital health and we're just seeing glimpses of hope in leveraging technology to solve healthcare system challenges.

We're also entering a phase when enterprise e.g. Pharma, Payers, Healthcare Systems, Tech companies are building capabilities to collect patient data, some are even on a race to earn the top spot on who has the largest volume of patient data.

Self Care Catalysts is one of the pioneers in generating and deriving value from patient - driven real world evidence. And then we asked this of ourselves... is it really just about data collection and amassing data volume?

But how are we really helping solve the problem of the patients?

Our Health Storylines platform is built on the premise that the technology we built must help and support patients first. We'll be the first to admit that patients are not always on their digital tools or apps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some stay for as long as 2 years, most drop out after a few months then we're often surprised to see them back again through the course of their illness.

Our platform mirrors a person's life. When they get diagnosed with an illness, they reluctantly become "patients". They use Health Storylines as it fits their journey, embracing it when they're in a chronic state or going on a holiday mode when they get better. Wouldn't this be the healthcare data that we need to know?

Our purpose is to empower patients first by equipping them with tools that will help them navigate the complex list of care plan from their physicians, enable them to discover interventions that work for them or not and encourage them to form their own hypotheses.

Self Care Catalysts as an enterprise is a health tech and data company.

But we're challenging ourselves every day to ensure that the platform we built must solve the patients' problems first. We believe that if we don’t even make a dent on the lives of patients, then the data they contributed would have failed them. 


Andy Chung