We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Private healthcare provider, Cera, launched in November 2016, has struck a deal with Uber to transport its London-based carers to their patients, while its disabled customers will be able to use UberAssist and UberWay to efficiently travel by drivers who have been through a specially designed disability equality training course. In a separate deal, Cera is to provide on-the-go care to patients of several NHS hospitals, supporting five million people, including those at Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest NHS trust in the country. “This is an interesting and innovative proposal which will help raise awareness of the challenges faced by the vulnerable elderly” says David Mowat, minister for community and social care.
A lot of us assume our doctor knows the answer, but intensive care Physician Josh Landy, co-creator of the app, Figure One, realised physicians want to get opinions from other doctors, “We realized that there was an opportunity to create a network where healthcare professionals can share these interesting cases”, said Landy. Showcased at SXSW, Landy highlighted the app can be used for teaching, learning and patient care, presented like a Facebook feed with photos and feedback on cases, which is used by millions of healthcare professions in 190 countries since starting the app in 2013. Landy believes the app will provide “Better patient care, shorter wait times and hopefully lower costs in the healthcare system”.
An important milestone has been achieved by Isansys, the medical device and healthcare information company, in pursuit of improving patient monitoring and saving lives. The ground-breaking project, called RAPID (Real-Time Adaptive and Predictive Indicator of Deterioration), the first of its type in the world, is jointly funded by a £1.8 million grant from the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health, through the Health Innovation Challenge Fund. The project uses wireless technology to collect real-time data on vital signs including heart rate, respiration rate and oxygen saturation levels, which is analysed to predict when a child’s condition may be deteriorating.
With most major tech companies stepping into fitness and health tracking, it’s no surprise Google has jumped on the bandwagon. The company launched Google Fit in 2014 and subsequently revamped it alongside Android Wear 2.0. The news comes from Mary Liz McCurdy, head of Health and Fitness Apps for Google Play, and says that health-tracking applications are set to become a lot more useful by using as much data as possible, such as recommending how to eat better and what kind of exercises to do. It’s likely we will continue to see updates to Google Fit as time goes on and Google showed its focus on the service in the last few months.
Copenhagen, Denmark-based Leo Innovation Lab announced a $5.5 million Series A and seed funding round that will support five startups around the world, ranging from mobile app makers to AI platform providers. Leo Innovation Lamb established out of Danish pharmaceutical company Leo Pharma back in 2015 and was formed to develop long-term strategies improving various aspects of everyday life with skin conditions, and aims on working with healthcare and technology partners to create digital tools and ad-ons for existing devices, drugs or software. The invested five companies offer resources aimed at helping patients and their physicians deal with health issues, and Leo Innovation Lab CEO Kristian Hart-Hansen stated, “The companies chosen for seed investment were carefully selected for their ability to digitally disrupt the industry, and to align with our patient-centric vision and values about holistic healthcare.”
SidekickHealth, the gamified health behaviour change service, is a suite of online, customisable and disease prevention programmes for providers and employers. They offer personalized coaching, games, diet and exercise tracking based on individual health needs, and are used as part of many CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programmes, which can be used either online or through a mobile app. SidekickHealth CEO and cofounder Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson stated, “Our brains don’t always work to make logical choices. So we developed SidekickHealth to activate the emotional triggers as well as the logic of decision-making”… “We are seeing that a program like SidekickHealth combined with personal coaching is the key to motivating people to make significant changes in their behaviour,”.
With 356,860 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK in 2014 alone, and although survival rates have doubled over the past four decades, 160,000 people still perish from the disease every year. Tech giants like Microsoft are already searching for ways to cure the disease, but there’s the question whether technology startups can support the same objectives with their resources. For example, Skin Analytics, a UK HealthTech startup founded by Australian Neil Daly, is helping patients track concern through an AI-powered smartphone image recognition app for skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Britain. Skin Analytics may be making progress, but it’s also competing with the likes of IBM, who have developed a computer system, to help skin cancer diagnosis.
iExhale, the Los Angeles-based online mental health company, have raised $1.86 million in a seed funding round led by Dorilton Capital. The company, which only launched last month, makes an iOS app that allows people aged 14 and over to instant message with licensed therapists and plans to use the funding to build upon its current content. Once someone downloads the app they get a free 48-hour period during which they can browse and get to know therapists before booking a session. “iExhale offers a safe, non-judgmental environment where you can feel supported and understood while encouraging life-affirming change,” iExhale CEO and cofounder Aaron Robin stated.
A review has been published by a team of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles studying the use of virtual reality in inpatient settings. The studies fell into three categories: those that used VR as a distraction for pain reduction, those that used VR to improve body image in patients with eating disorders, and those that used VR for cognitive and motor rehab. “Overall, a majority of studies from the past decade found VR to be efficacious, easy to use, safe, and contributing to high patient satisfaction,” researchers concluded. They added, “It is highly interactive, flexible, tailored to the individual, and applicable to people varying in age, sex, and medical disorders.”
Researchers have now discovered that your wearables are aware that you’re unwell before you are, and could potentially know when it’s time to see the doctor. Engineers at Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto performed various experiments to discover whether real scientific conclusions could be drawn from the data produced by commercial wearable devices. They studied 43 volunteers with a device tracking heart rate, skin temperature and movement for an average of five months each, with a volunteer reporting clinical symptoms, which subsequently led to being diagnosed with Lyme disease. “The wearable was actually able to predict Lyme disease even before the patient had any symptoms,” said Grace Peng, Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.”