Ropes & Gray Hosts Digital Health Forum and Launches Research Report

September 18, 2019

Ropes & Gray attorneys explored the challenges in digital health partnerships and debuted the results of a new survey and research report at a September 18 forum, “From Innovation to Solutions: Building Strategic Partnership in an Evolving Digital Health Landscape.”

Hosted at the Manhattan office of Crain’s New York Business, the research partner for the survey, the event featured a keynote discussion and panel session. Nearly 100 Ropes & Gray clients and Crain’s readers from the health care, life sciences, digital health and private equity sectors attended the forum.

Digital health companies increasingly are forming alliances with health providers, payors and life sciences companies in an effort to push the boundaries of medicine and health care. These transactions require extensive vetting because of the complex legal issues involved, including data privacy, data use, intellectual property, reimbursement, and evolving regulatory frameworks at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other federal and state governmental agencies.

After a robust audience Q&A, the forum proceeded with a presentation by health care associate Christine Moundas (New York). Christine revealed the results of a survey conducted by Ropes & Gray and Crain’s based on responses from more than 280 executives from the health care, life sciences, digital health and health care investment sectors. The research goal was to examine partnerships with digital health companies to learn more about challenges, best practices and strategies for navigating complex strategic partnerships.

Among the key findings,

  • more than 60% of respondents said health care’s strongly entrenched business and reimbursement models make it difficult to bring digital health products to market
  • 47% think most health tech companies do not fully understand the health care market
  • data privacy and cybersecurity continue to be priorities for health care market participants
  • ·nearly 70% of respondents were concerned that a digital health partner would fail to secure or encrypt data prior to it being shared

The research presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the key legal and practical considerations of digital health partnerships. Data practice chair Ed McNicholas (Washington, D.C.), interviewed panelists including health care partner and practice co-chair Deborah Gersh (Chicago); Matt Holt, managing director and deputy head of private equity at New Mountain Capital; Kimberly Danzi Overs, general counsel of a private pharmaceutical company and former assistant general counsel at Pfizer; and Dr. Jorge Petit, chief executive of Coordinated Behavioral Care, a coalition of providers and health and human services agencies, and a former vice president of Beacon Health Solutions.

Ed commented on the natural tension between technology companies “known for moving fast and breaking things, and the FDA, which really is trying to make sure things don't get broken.”

Deborah noted that a theme of both the survey and the forum was the question of who has rights to the data and who can use it. Laws are evolving about how health data can and can't be used.

Life sciences regulatory & compliance partner Al Cacozza (Washington, D.C.), digital health co-chair, provided a summary and closing remarks for the event.