The Healthcare Arenas That Will Command Investor Attention in 2018

On Tuesday, Health Wildcatters CEO Hubert Zajicek offered his 10 hot healthcare innovation areas for 2018. These are areas, he says, that will see investment in the coming year.

One thing to notice about the list—and that Zajicek himself mentioned during the presentation, which he delivered at HW’s monthly Pulse breakfast—is that several of the 10 are actually a couple of bullet points wrapped into one. Ten proved too narrow a number. That is to say that there’s a whole lot of opportunity for innovation in healthcare right now.

Zajicek’s list features spaces you might expect: things like health insurance and value-based care, big data and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and home health. Those items are more a continuation of a trend than the start of a new one. But a few of the items are a bit more surprising.

Hubert Zajicek, CEO and co-founder of Health Wildcatters. (Photo: Ben Garrett)

Wearables, for instance. As an innovative technology, they’re back. We’ve been able to track our steps for a while, but the tech has reached a level of sophistication that is bringing about a next stage—and one that shows some significant promise, Zajicek says. “Wearables have finally come back with real insights and real data,” he says. Think wearable EKG and blood-pressure monitors.

Another he touched on is the area of opioids, stemming from the ongoing crisis that, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, takes as many as 90 American lives a day. Much of the conversation about finding solutions circulates around policy, but Zajicek sees an opportunity for startups to step in and make a difference. Those opportunities could revolve around developing non-opioid painkillers or better opioid formulas, new accountability and dispension-control technologies, and better rehabilitation.

Zajicek points out that in 2017, funding toward digital health topped more than $5.88 billion, $1 billion more than the year prior, according to Rock Health. The money spanned 345 deals. Eight of them totaled at least $100 million, respectively. On the brink of what could be another strong year, here are the 10 hot areas Zajicek sees commanding investor attention in 2018:

1. Wearables
2. Big data, AI, and population health
3. Health insurance, deductibles, and value-based care
4. Home health
5. At-home diagnostics/specialty diagnostics
6. 3D printing
7. Opioids
8. Gene therapy, Car-T (cancer-fighting immune cells), personalized medicine, and CRISPR (gene-editing technology)
9. Drug pricing
10. Cybersecurity and blockchain