San Francisco, CA — Malay Gandhi, Managing Director at Rock Health came to Digital Pharma West to help us see the future through the changing investments of big digital health backers.

Quick background: Rock Health funds and supports entrepreneurs who work in digital health.

To them, digital health is defined simply: The intersection of healthcare and technology.

That’s the infrastructure (delivery, administration); R&D; and preventative, acute and chronic care. Matched with software and hardware commodities (like smartphones or a scale).

In 2011 there wasn’t even a billion dollars of investment in digital health. Already in 2014 – just the first half of the year – we’re at $2.3 billion, more than the entire amount invested in 2013.

Each of these companies will take 7 – 10 years to get to scale.

To build those sustainable new technologies and brands, Rock Health has brought together three things:

  • Capital: Through partnerships with leading venture firms
  • Clinical validation: With trials and studies through leading healthcare networks, like Kaiser and Mayo Clinic
  • Scale: In collaboration with industry partners, like Genentech, GE and UnitedHealth

Here are the big trends Rock Health is watching right now:

Genome is the biggest “big data” challenge of our time: Just ten years after the completion of the Human Geonome Project, 2014 brought the $1000 genome. That cost decreased five orders of magnitude in 10 years. That’s not linear, it’s logarithmic. In the next year we’ll produce more genomic data than ever before in human history.

Clinical data is coming together in the cloud: One of the largest investments this year is in Flatiron, backed by Google Ventures. It’s a cloud platform in the oncology space that captures the experiences of the 96% of patients who don’t participate in clinical trials. It aggregates and transforms clinical and financial data from EMR and billing systems in real-time. The result is a practice- or macro-level view of real patient experience. The $130 million investment they just received gives Flatiron the opportunity to start gathering that data in a big way.

Intense wearable backlash: In 2013, we were all calling wearables the next big thing in healthcare. Then in 2014, Nike fired the majority of Fuelband team. The New York Times called them “digital snake oil.” But, investors haven’t backed off. They think the first generation just wasn’t good enough. The new wearables will be more clinically valid, smarter, more convenient, and more relevant to our lives.

Digital therapies are just beginning to take shape: In just three years, the investment in digital therapies has experienced 20x growth. These are behavioral software tools that are backed by published clinical data. Real world outcomes. This isn’t pill+, it’s the bottom line. Within a few years these solutions will be listed on formulary next to pills.

This is consumerism’s moment: Consumers are angry about the healthcare system, but they’re being forced into it. Forced into a system that has terrible tools. That’s an emerging area of investment – innovators from outside healthcare who are re-invisioning these basic systems to support decision making and make the “recommended plan” truly the best plan for you.


Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.