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Nokia May Exit Digital Health Business

Posted on March 2, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

The digital health market has become phenomenally competitive over the last few years, with giants like Google and Apple duking it out with smaller, fast-moving startups over the choicest opportunities in the sector.

Even with a behemoth like Google, you expect to see some stumbles, and the Internet giant has taken a few. But seldom have we seen a billion-dollar company walk away from the digital health market, which arguably stands to grow far more. Still, according to a recent news report, that’s just what Nokia may be doing.

A story published in The Verge reports that the Finnish telecom giant has launched a strategic review of its health division. While Nokia apparently isn’t spilling the beans on its plans, the news site got a look at an internal company memo which suggests that its digital health business is indeed in trouble.

In the memo, The Verge says, Nokia chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac wrote that “our digital health business has struggled to scale and meet its growth expectations… [And] currently, we don’t see a path for [the digital health business] to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia.”

While it’s hard to tell much from a press release, it notes that Nokia’s digital health division makes and sells an ecosystem of hybrid smart watches, scales and digital health devices to consumers and enterprises. Its digital health history includes the acquisition of Withings, a French startup with a sexy line up of connected health-focused digital health devices.

This may be in part because it just hasn’t been aggressive enough or offered anything unique. In the wake of the Withings acquisition, Nokia doesn’t seem to have done much to build on Withings’ product line. Though much of the success in this market depends on execution, its current roster of products doesn’t sound like anything too exciting or differentiated.

It’s interesting to note that Buvac blames at least part of the failure of its digital health excursion on Nokia’s size. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for industry-leading companies like Apple, which seems to be carving out its digital health footprint one launch at a time and cultivating health leaders along the way. For example, Apple recently partnered with Stanford Medicine launch an app using its smartwatch to collect data on irregular heart rhythms. Arguably, this is the way to win markets and influence people — slow and steady.

In the end, though, Buvac is probably right about is digital health prospects. Nokia’s seeming failure may indeed be attributed to its sprawling portfolio, and probably an inflexible internal culture as well. The moral of the story may be that winning at the digital health game has far more to do with understanding the market than it does with having very deep pockets.

Techstars++ Joins Forces with Mayo Clinic

Posted on December 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those not familiar with Techstars, they are one of the best startup accelerators out there today. You can literally look at the statistics for the startups they’ve invested in on the TechStars stats page. For those not familiar with the startup accelerator model, companies get a small sum of money (usually enough to live for 3 months) and spend 3 months in a city with other startup companies building out your startup company. It’s turned out to be a great model with Ycombinator and Techstars leading the pack and plenty of healthcare startup accelerators following after.

Many of the Techstars companies have been healthcare startups (especially the Techstars Boston classes) and Techstars has just created a new partnership with the Mayo Clinic to help these startup companies even more. It’s called Techstars++ and is launching with the Mayo Clinic. Here’s a description from the announcement:

Techstars++ offers companies from across the Techstars network the opportunity to extend their Techstars experience by spending time on site and engaging deeply with a relevant corporate partner. For example, after completing Techstars, healthcare-oriented companies can spend two weeks at the Mayo Clinic exploring business development opportunities and other synergies. A full time Techstars Program Director will reside on-site and work closely with the startups and the corporation to help maximize the opportunity. There is no charge to Techstars companies to participate in Techstars++.

In the past, I’ve wondered if general tech accelerators like Techstars were the right approach for healthcare startup companies. There’s so much that’s different in healthcare that you need to make sure you have someone who understand the healthcare culture. I still think this is a major challenge for a healthcare startup in Techstars, but this 2 week residency at Mayo Clinic is a good step towards opening customer doors for healthcare startups in these programs. They should then expand the program to include a medium and small size hospital as well. Having those three categories of hospitals on board is incredibly important when launching a health IT company to the hospital world.

Sprint and Techstars Mobile Health Accelerator

Posted on October 21, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Not that we needed another mobile health accelerator, but I was really intrigued by the companies that are backing this mobile health accelerator. First, besides loving healthcare IT, I also love the startup community. I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than a journalist, but no doubt I have parts of both in me. As part of that love, I addictively read a venture capitalist, Brad Feld’s blog. So, I was really intrigued by his post announcing the new “Powered by TechStars” Mobile Health Accelerator with Sprint.

I also find it interesting that this is the second mobile health accelerator that is Powered by TechStars (Nike+ Accelerator was the first).

We’ll see what comes out of the accelerator. I have a lot of confidence in the TechStars mentorship approach to accelerators. Plus, Sprint has some deep pockets and it seems every telco is looking at how to do mobile health. Although, I was a bit surprised to see Sprint’s name on this since I haven’t seen their name at the various mobile health events I’ve attended. Instead, that’s usually been dominated by Verizon, AT&T, and Qualcomm. We’ll see if that changes at this year’s mHealth Summit.

If you want to be part of this mobile health accelerator in Kansas City, they’re accepting applications.