How Trigger Points Influence The Strategies Of Thousands Of Digital Health Companies

Trigger points are events that have an impact on the development of the digital health market. Because of trigger points, company owners or managers may change their company vision, strategy, or roadmap. There are dozens of trigger points in the digital health market.

The digital health market has developed at a high speed since 2010. Before 2010, mobile operators like Vodafone or T-Mobile were the major players in the digital health market, that tried to increase their VAS (Value Added Service) business with connectivity-focused digital health service offerings.

They became marginalized when established healthcare companies and startups realized the potentials of smartphone app-based service offerings targeting patients and HCPs. Trigger points often initiated new strategic planning processes or company creations after 2010.

One of these trigger points for the MedTech industry was the launch of IBG Star by Sanofi and Aga Matrix in 2011. While it was not the first connection of a medical device with an app, it was an innovation that attracted a lot of attention at that time. Even though it was not a success for Sanofi and was pulled off the market a few years later, it quickly became the market standard and an example of how to support the functionality of a medical device with an app. Today most of the relevant BGMs and CGMs are connected to an app.

In 2012 Oscar’s launch became one of the trigger points for the health insurance industry. Payers started to investigate how an insurance model that centers around an app could change the way claims can be managed and reduced, or how new members are attracted by a digital offer. Investors jumped onto this new kind of payer organization and made this digital health segment one of the segments they invested the most in the upcoming years.

First news about significant user gains (100,000 – 1,000,000+ users) of health and fitness solutions in the fertility, running/fitness, and/or weight loss sectors clearly demonstrated the engagement potential of digital health solutions in pharma, sport, and behavior change companies.

In 2015, the healthcare industry and investor community saw the amount at which a mobile app user can be financially valuated. The acquisition of MyFitnessPal by Under Armour for $475 million fueled the expectations for value creation in the digital health market.

Around this time, digital coaching services were introduced by companies like Livongo or Oviva, showing that digital health apps can be used to efficiently connect coaches with chronically ill patients and that they can be bundled into a subscription model, that would be paid for by employers and health insurance companies. Bundled coaching services became one of the largest revenue sources of the digital health industry.

Companies like Medable or Medidata started to demonstrate that digital health solutions can improve clinical trial efficiency by reducing patient recruitment costs, increase patient diversity, improving patient and HCP retention, or increasing data quality. CROs and investors immediately saw the potential and made DCT (Digital Clinical Trail solutions) a multi-billion USD digital health market globally (R2G report: THE DIGITAL DECENTRALIZED CLINICAL TRIAL SOLUTIONS MARKET 2026).

The COVID-19 pandemic has created several trigger points in the digital health market, but above all, it has brought a boom to telehealth solutions. Utilization rates (proportion of telehealth app downloads to total doctor visits) have increased from less than 1% to 10% or more in some countries. Healthcare companies and those from outside the industry set up strategy projects to find out how to embed telehealth solutions in their own portfolio. Although disillusionment has set in, the large telehealth providers such as Teladoc or Amwell are now among the top-selling digital health companies worldwide.

In 2020, Germany introduced the world’s first standardized process for low-risk digital health solutions to get reimbursed. In Europe, where 85% of healthcare spending is covered by private, statutory, or national health plans, this triggered a lot of hopes and strategic planning activities in digital health, pharma, and MedTech companies. The than 30+ DiGA-approved solutions will have been prescribed 140,000 times (12/2022; R2G whitepaper: DIGA 2022: IS IT WORTH THE HYPE?) by a HCP.

Trigger points are continually being observed in the digital health market, and it is essential that they be documented. To support strategic planning in an uncertain market environment with new trigger points every year, R2G and the Healthware Group recently launched is an analyst platform that monitors trigger points in the digital health industry globally. The platform is in Beta now.

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