$4B VC shop lays out its vision for the future of digital health

Anyone with a passing interest in tech startups is unlikely to be shocked by Silicon Valley VC Andreessen Horowitz listing digital health as one of its top 16 trends. But as one of the organizations with some power over how these trends play out, the reasoning behind Andreessen Horowitz's list makes for interesting reading.

Balaji Srinivasan, a general partner at the $4 billion VC shop, outlined how he sees the digital health sector evolving. The thesis is that lots of people without medical degrees already influence patient care by writing code for CT scanners and other essential components of the physician's toolkit. As the code guiding these devices becomes increasingly sophisticated, Srinivasan sees devices handling more of the interpretation themselves, allowing people without MDs to understand a scan or chart.

As more data is tracked, collated and analyzed, Srinivasan sees a shift. "Today you'd accept without hesitation that the kid in the garage without a degree could write an email front-end that analyzed your email, told you the best time of day to reply, or did something else interesting, unexpected, and useful with your email data. Tomorrow? To understand your personal diagnostic data, you might soon depend more upon an iPhone app developed in a garage than on your local MD," Srinivasan wrote.

The brief, optimistic post skirts an array of potential issues relating to privacy and other matters, but is indicative of how someone with a stake in shaping the future sees digital health evolving. The scenario outlined by Srinivasan has major implications for clinical trials, which could identify and track participants much more effectively.

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