“Never let a crisis go to waste”

Whew, 2020. We…made it? Almost? It’s hard to fathom that we are approaching the end of this unfathomable year. But it’s probably safe to say that those of us in digital health feel a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to play a pivotal role in improving healthcare across the board. For this final Rock Weekly of the year, we’re sharing a roundup of the stories that shaped the wild ride of 2020:

1. Digital health takes center stage
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and within days the digital health industry sprang into action to ensure that healthcare delivery didn’t grind to a halt. The surge in telemedicine, rise of virtual clinical trials, and rapid adaptation of existing technologies helped to keep care accessible while so much else was in question. The government followed by relaxing regulations that have long stymied healthcare innovation. A silver lining to 2020’s chaos? An unprecedented urgency to adopt healthcare technology.

2. Big Tech and Big Retail get lead roles
For the first time, nine of the Fortune 10 companies have healthcare business units. Big Retail came in strong with Best Buy, Rite Aid, and Walgreens all making their aspirations clear, while Walmart and CVS doubled down on their health strategies. Meanwhile, Big Tech continued to develop ways to apply their sweet spots to healthcare, with various plays by Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google dominating headlines.

3. Investment—and exits—steal the show
The pandemic propelled an unprecedented amount of investment activity on multiple fronts: over $12B as we write this, and a flurry of exit activity including seven IPOs—not to mention the biggest merger the industry has ever seen.

+ Recent funding in the past week alone:

4. The spotlight on existing issues
The pandemic also forced overdue societal reckonings. Health disparities—particularly the role of systemic racism—along with the ongoing mental health and caregiving crises came into focus like never before. The importance of diversifying digital health leadership and teams (“hire and wire!”) and supporting those teams to build culturally competent solutions became tangible; as did the hope to avoid letting “a crisis go to waste” for future generations.

As the world anticipates the distribution of the most-rapidly-developed vaccine ever brought to market, we at Rock Health hope that a return to “normal” ways of life does not engender complacency. This year showed that our industry can play a lead role and turn on a dime to overcome our most pressing challenges. Together, we can continue to make healthcare massively better.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful holiday season. See you in 2021!

The Rock Health team