Digital health startups in the time of the COVID-19 crisis

Imon Chakraborty

The digital health industry has focused on designing and developing various technological solutions, such as digital health applications, wireless medical devices, cybersecurity, AI/ML in medical software, robotics assist surgery, logistics, clinicians training, and personalized medicine. Within this industry, the role of digital health startups is rapidly growing. The COVID-19 global pandemic has been a catalyst for the increased use of digital health within healthcare services. The role of digital health startups during the pandemic cannot be understated. This study aimed to fill the gap.

Scopus, IEEE Xplore, and ACM digital library were scanned between 2020 and 2021. The data were also collected from research-based business magazines (Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, etc.). In addition, 25 digital health startup founders were interviewed. An inductive approach was used to analyze the data using Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis approach.

Out of 795 identified articles, eighteen studies were relevant to the topic. Startups’ stakeholders (entrepreneurs, providers, regulators, and investors) perspectives have been changed towards digital healthcare in COVID-19. Some startups showed adaptive behavior, strategic development, and established million-dollar businesses, while some exhibited malfunctions and had to shut their services. Four themes have emerged from the triangulation of the data- market orientation approach, developing dynamic capabilities, bringing competitive advantage, and improving business performance.

Digital health startups altered their ways of survival and serving during the COVID-19 crisis. Understanding the new norm in business transformation aids startups in implementing digital health services successfully.