TrailBlazer: Predicting Success in Growth-stage Digital Health Companies

Even the most revolutionary digital therapeutics (DTx) cannot significantly impact patients’ lives if they fail to align with the business interests of healthcare payers, such as insurers, national healthcare systems, and employers who offer health benefits to their employees. These innovative treatments must be financially viable, safe to use, of consistent quality, and appealing to the entities responsible for funding healthcare services.

This project aims to understand the factors that contribute to the success of growth-stage digital health companies, with the ultimate goal of predicting successful companies in the field better.

To accomplish this goal, our approach begins with conducting a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the art in defining factors that have played a significant role in the success of digital health companies. To this end, we will use a multimethod approach, beginning with a literature review on success factors in growth-stage companies, particularly in the digital health sector. We will then conduct a market analysis, interviewing leading investors and founders of top digital health companies to gain insights on essential factors that drive success.

Using this approach, we plan to compile a robust list of success factors for digital health companies. This list and historical data gathered from multiple sources (e.g., PitchBook, Dealroom, Crunchbase, companies pitch-decks and webpages, LinkedIn) will be used to develop a model for predicting the outcome of digital health companies.

The findings of this project will benefit investors to make more informed investments. It will also benefit entrepreneurs, who can increase their chances of success by making better choices about location, business model, team composition, and other factors early on. Moreover, it will benefit payers, who will better understand the cost/benefits of various digital health solutions available. Ultimately, this research will impact our healthcare systems by contributing to the progress in advancing the objective of providing accessible and affordable medical care for everyone through the successful implementation of digital health services.

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In Brief

Digital health investments have increased more than tenfold in the last decade (Figure 1). However, even well-funded companies at the forefront of developing a new wave of software-based medicines may fail. Take Pear Therapeutics, for example, which raised approximately $400 million and attained a valuation exceeding $1.5 billion, but ultimately filed for bankruptcy in 2023

Research Team

Estelle Pfitzer
Dr. Christoph Kausch
Prof. Dr. Tobias Kowatsch


May 2023 – April 2026

Estelle Pfitzer
Estelle PfitzerPhD Candidate, Centre for Digital Health Interventions; University of St. Gallen