How Web3 will shape the future of the healthtech landscape

Future winners in healthtech will compete with bespoke AI-driven experiences fueled by shared data. Web3 coalitions will offer a new way for healthtech apps to compete.

Before an appointment last week, my wife tried to find the records from her blood test five months earlier. They came from a little clinic in our neighborhood (she couldn’t remember the name) who uploaded the results to a third-party "patient portal" (the name of which she also forgot). After an inbox search, a couple of broken portal links, some “contact us” links, a robo-phone system, and an oblivious call center associate—she was able to access to a PDF to share with her new physician (who, of course, introduced her to another portal full of PDFs). 

Today many of us are grappling with new AI strategies. As patients become accustomed to interacting with AI in other aspects of their lives, they will expect healthcare to evolve accordingly. However, AI-oriented healthtech companies need holistic data-pictures of patients to create these personalized experiences—how can the industry evolve from this portals-and-pdfs world into the data landscape that will power the AI of the future?

A fragmented data landscape will be a barrier to healthtech companies that want to deliver next-level AI-driven experiences.

Users expect a greater level of data sharing between healthcare providers and healthtech apps.

The future winners in the healthtech space will be those that switch to a paradigm of health data management that focuses on integrated coalitions over siloed databases.

What does an integrated healthcare approach mean for healthtech?

For a model of opportunity in the health-tech space, we can look to the analog healthcare world: integrated healthcare models.

In an Integrated Healthcare Model, a team of professionals coordinate care for a patient.

In an “integrated care model” a team of professionals—such as general practitioners, therapists, nutritionists, social workers and other specialists—work together with a holistic understanding of their patients to develop personalized, coordinated treatment plans.

Integrated health-tech experiences will work in similar ways. Users will continue to look to their nutrition apps for health plans, online therapy providers for their mental health regimens, and general practitioners for their basic test results, but will expect each of these specialist humans and apps to be informed by more holistic data pictures of their health. These holistic data-pictures will only be possible if each healthtech experience provider is sharing data in an interoperable way.

As competitive UX strategies increasingly rely on personalized ML-driven experiences, holistic data-pictures of individual customers will grow in importance.

However, this integrated model is exactly the opposite of conventional wisdom in the tech industry where exclusive data ownership is seen as a competitive moat.

Data hoarding is not a viable strategy

AI-first companies with a traditional, data-hoarding mindset have two options for acquiring enough data to feed their AI models: 

  • Direct interactions with a user which require a lot of engagement to build a holistic data-picture of a user. This feels awkward, invasive, or cumbersome if users have to input too much data in each app.
  • Sharing data through partnerships which require high cost (in time and money) to secure partnerships and build connective APIs. 
Healthtech organizations with limited access to patient data will lack a holistic data-picture of patients for training AI models.

These options might be feasible for big tech companies like Apple or Google which control enough touchpoints to completely saturate a user’s life, but even rivals the size of Microsoft, or Samsung will struggle to collect enough data for highly personalized health experiences. 

Where does that leave a small or medium specialty healthtech app that simply strives to provide the best experience? The alternative is to band together.

Banding together: the Web3 option

     As a broad movement, proponents of “web3” are working toward an internet that gives users ownership and control over their data. For healthtech companies, a third—more integrated—approach emerges:

  • Join an ecosystem of healthcare apps that gives patients control over their data in a way that is easy to connect with new apps. This lowers the cost of access to a more holistic data picture of patients and facilitates streamlined experiences for users.
Companies that contribute to and pull from a common pool of user data will be able to train more personalized AI models and deliver more personalized experiences.

In this paradigm, health data is stored in a digital health vault controlled by the user. The user provides access to the apps with the most compelling value propositions, and receives a more personalized experience in return.

This vision requires innovations in data protocol development, security, and UX patterns. Web3 communities support ecosystem-oriented solutions by creating:

  • Social structures & standards such as common data structure protocols and industry agreements that support ecosystem development and growth. 
  • Technology Infrastructure that makes these new paradigms possible, such as distributed, encrypted databases, digital signature and privacy preserving technologies, blockchain-based accounting and more.

A handful of web3 communities are already working on healthcare-specific protocols. Many of these communities are still in their nascent stages, so healthtech companies that want to get involved could play pivotal roles in shaping the evolution of these standards.

What should healthtech companies do today?

If you’re a part of a healthtech company, consider whether a web3 approach is right for your organization. To get started:

  • Bring the Web3 conversation into the strategy room. Be realistic about whether your company can compete with a data-hoarding strategy. If not, investigate web3 business models to see if it is the right fit.
  • Find the right coalition. Go to conferences and talk with leaders in other organizations to see where your org will most benefit from the collaborative community.
  • Contribute. Web3 organizations often give resources to open-sourced protocol development as a way to influence their design. Consider whether your organization could benefit from collaborating in these communities.

The future is open

The healthtech space is already extremely competitive. Future winners will need to move past traditional data silos and create AI-driven, bespoke experiences fueled by accessible data. Web3 coalitions will offer a new way for specialty healthtech apps to compete by contributing to a more integrated ecosystem around individual users and their data.

Guidea is an expert in helping healthtech companies evolve their experience strategies in a changing landscape. Contact us to talk more about the shifts that this could mean for your own organization.


Kyle is a principal UX researcher, strategist and designer focused on the impact that web3 and blockchain technologies will have on the human experience. Kyle holds a degree in design and an MBA. He got his start at frog design helping companies understand and create UX strategies around new technologies. Kyle’s web3 focus has included a design strategy position in J.P. Morgan’s blockchain-focused “Onyx” division and a lead research and strategist position at the Crypto Research and Design Lab (CRADL). He is currently a Sr UX Strategist for Guidea.

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