What Are Digital Health Startups?

Digital health startups are young companies driven to fill a niche in the healthcare industry. As a part of their mission, these startups integrate tech solutions with clinical expertise to improve care delivery, accessibility and coordination. 


Key Takeaways

  • Digital health is an umbrella term that encompasses the categories of diagnostics, telehealth and health information technology. 

  • Digital health business models primarily fall into one of two types: business-to-business or direct to consumer. This pursuit determines how the startup will craft its marketing, sales, go-to-market, and product strategies. 


what are digital health startups

Categories of Digital Health

Consider the ways patients interact with the traditional healthcare system. Filling prescriptions at a pharmacy, self-reporting progress, rushing to urgent care, following up with primary care, and then bouncing around from specialist to specialist. Digital health creates pathways for these services to take place virtually to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve clinical outcomes. 

Let’s look at Capsule, a digitally-enabled pharmacy. By preparing orders, delivering medications and proactively handling refills, patients reduce time spent coordinating prescription logistics such as calling in and picking up. 

There are several categories within digital health, with startups mainly falling under one of the following domains of diagnostics, telehealth or health information technology. Let’s deep dive on these below:


These types of products gather insights on patients outside of the traditional office or inpatient setting. This can include self-administered tests, wearables or remote patient monitoring tools. Some notable examples include:

  • Everlywell: at-home tests in which consumers gather their own blood sample, mail back for testing and receive results digitally. Tests include food sensitivities, allergies and thyroid activity. 

  • Qardio: offers the QardioArm product for consumers to take their own blood pressure at home, sync to their smart phone and send to their healthcare provider for monitoring purposes. 

  • Levels: created a continuous glucose monitor. It is worn at all times in order to measure blood sugar responses to food, activity and other lifestyle behaviors. Insights turn into reports, which help consumers understand the next steps to take in their metabolic health journey. 


A term we are quite familiar with after the Covid-19 pandemic. Telehealth is “the virtual communication of health information between a patient and a healthcare provider.” Some notable examples include:

  • Galileo: Pairs patients and doctors together to resolve urgent care needs such as flu or urinary tract infections, as well as more ongoing care needs such as diabetes and asthma. 

  • Neura Health: Matches migraine sufferers with neurologists for ongoing symptom and medication management, all through their app.

  • Oshi Health: Connects patients with gastrointestinal conditions to physicians or nurse practitioners who lead a crafted treatment plan, with ongoing support from mental health and nutrition professionals. 

Health IT

These tools help healthcare organizations maintain, transfer and study data. Health IT helps organizations improve data security and operational efficiency. Some notable examples include:

  • Klara: Allows patients to book appointments independently and complete intake forms prior to the appointment. Klara also connects with electronic health records to help providers keep track of communications. 

  • Cedar: Molds the payment experience to patient preferences and enables practices to accept multiple forms of payment (including Google Pay!) so that patient-cost shares are more easily recuperated.

  • Bright.md: Proactively screens patients prior to in-person care, enabling providers to work ahead of schedule and delegate treatment plans accordingly. 

B2B vs D2C

Digital health startups are considered to be either B2B, meaning they sell from their business to another, or D2C, meaning they sell directly to consumers. Whether a startup is B2B or D2C depends on the business model and target demographic.

B2B deals may be more lucrative and long-lasting as they are often based on contracts. D2C deals are the opposite, relying on individual consumers to make recurring purchases. B2B sales are also longer in nature and may require strategic partnerships with complex stakeholders such as payers and chief medical officers. Conversely, D2C products have short sales cycles, often beginning with everyday ubiquitous modes of communication such as social media marketing or PR features in major media brands. 

The decision to pursue a B2B or D2C business model determines who has the purchasing power (patients vs.payers vs. health systems), sales and marketing strategy, product market fit and the revenue cycle. As all of these stakeholders have individualized and important interests, ongoing demands and requests continue to emerge within the digital health space. 


Outside the Huddle


Reviewed by Geetika Rao, MPH | Edited by Jared Dashevsky, M.Eng