Why Digital Health and Electric Vehicles Face Similar Paths Forward

Electric vehicles and digital health are emerging at the same time and finding themselves in similar regulatory and market landscapes.

Electric vehicles are starting to get traction, not just on the roads and highways, but in the mind of the consumer as well. Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is growing around the world fairly rapidly, according to new analysis from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, with more than 320,000 new EV registrations in 2014, bringing the total global market up to 740,000 vehicles. That compares to more than 1 billion gas powered cars in the world.

At the same time, digital health—the application of information and communications technologies to improve health and wellness—has exploded, particularly in telemedicine, remote sensing, and data analytics. It is unclear how many doctors use telemedicine routinely but one survey indicated 15% of PCPs used telemedicine in 2014.

The two technologies — electric vehicles and digital health – and their market and industry dynamics seem to running parallel courses:

1. Both function in highly regulated industries.

2. Both require large capital expenditures to be scaled.

3. Both are driven by technology innovation, particularly, in the case of EVs, battery storage.

4. Both are supported or hindered by rules and regulations and the economic incentives to buy, lease or usethem.

5. Both are dominated by a few major industry players.

6. Both are facing similar technology adoption and penetration challenges.

7. Both rely on supporting ecosystems, like charging stations around the US, to sustain growth.

8. Both have high-profile entrepreneurs wearing the sneakers who are rabid earlyvangelists.

9. Both are challenging heavily entrenched status quotidiens.

10. Both will have many unintended consequences that are impossible to predict.

Rules create ecosystems. Ecosystems that are friendly to people, technology, and money spawn innovative business models that can accelerate innovation. Digital health and electric cars will grow on that fertile ground and lay fallow where there is none. Another unanticipated outcome is that, given convergence, they may in fact become one and the same.