We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Healthcare firm Now Healthcare Group (NHG) has secured £4m in Series A funding from Medicash, a health cash plan provider based in Liverpool, in exchange for a minority stake in the business. Founded in 2015 by Lee Dentith, NHG provides digital healthcare services through its brands Dr Now, Now GP and Now Pharmacy. The company, now valued at £24m, plans to use the funds to further its artificial intelligence and machine offering via its mobile app products and online pharmacy. NHG also has plans to build on its private medical insurance offering and soon-to-be-launched new NHS medicine adherence and fulfilment app. Dentith said, “This investment and partnership is a fantastic opportunity for both NHG and Medicash to be able to develop new and exciting products for the insurance market in a live environment.
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has recently been awarded £5m funding to spearhead the development of digital technology to improve mental health care. For people who use mental health services, this will mean taking ownership of their health and care information, whilst updating directly into their card record and being able to interact with clinicians at the Trust using the latest digital technology, including smartphone apps and a secure online patient portal. For clinical staff, it will mean being able to use remote, mobile and assistive technologies to help provide high quality care, such as offering remote consultations via Skype-like services. The aim is not only to develop innovative technologies in Birmingham and Solihull, but to share these with other mental health trusts. John Short, Chief Executive at the Trust, said “We are delighted to have been recognised as an NHS leader in IT and excited about further developing our digital technologies to enable the best possible care to service users, both locally and nationally.”
In its largest acquisition to date and one of the top digital health deals of the year, Teladoc has acquired second opinion service Best Doctors in a $440 million deal, including $375 million in cash and $65 million in equity. The deal is intended to boost Teladoc’s international cloud and provide cross selling opportunities to both companies, with Best Doctors having a presence in 100 countries. Best Doctors is used by employers, insurers, accountable care organisations and for worker’s compensation cases. After securing permission from patients to obtain their medical records, the company matches their case with a suitable medical expert who reviews their diagnosis and treatment plan. Additionally, Best Doctors CEO Peter McClennen will join Teladoc as president of the new division of the telehealth company.
Figure 1, often referred to as an Instagram for doctors, raised $10 million in Series B funding. The new funding is going into ramping up the already impressive growth of the platform, although the firm has big plans to add some additional features, as CEO Gregory Levey told MobiHealthNews about another feature called Collections. “To help healthcare professionals get the most out of Figure 1, we’ll soon be rolling out a feature called Collections. They allow users to organize and filter cases by specialty, anatomy, technique, subject, or any other criteria.” Currently, Figure 1 doesn’t charge doctors to use its app, but that’s going to change as the company introduces curated sponsored content. Levey said, ““We’ve recently started monetization pilots—specifically, we introduced peer-to-peer sponsored content on Figure 1, which introduces industry partners to present Grand Rounds on a rare disease, to our global community.”.
Vineti, a cell and gene therapy software and analytics company, has closed on Series A funding round that pulled together nearly $14 million, with backing from General Electric Ventures, Mayo Clinic and new investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company plans to use the funds to continue growing its team and to deliver cloud-based software to improve patient access, whilst aiming to speed its work on life-saving treatment delivery. “Physicians, medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies are working together to develop successful therapies, transitioning from a one-size-fits-all model to individualized treatments for each patient,” Vineti CEO Amy DuRoss said in a statement. “But, the process for administering these treatments is broken and outdated, restricting access to terminal patients and creating unnecessary risk.” DuRoss also added that many patients who are excellent candidates don’t have access to the most innovative therapies – and discovery timelines are more challenging than necessary.
ClassPass has raised $70 million in Series C funding in a round led by Temasek, with existing investors Acequia Capital, CRV, General Catalyst, GV M13 and Thrive contributing to the funding. ClassPass, which was founded in 2013, uses an app to connect users to fitness classes across 39 cities worldwide. Unlikely a traditional gym – which only allows members to work out at that particular gym – Class Pass’s membership connects users to all 8,500-plus fitness organisations. ClassPass lists some 35 million bookings have been made on the platform, and have double its member base in the past year. Additionally, the company has hired virtual marketplace veterans from likes of Amazon and Microsoft to join their executive and board appointments. ClassPass founder and Executive Chairman Payal Kadakia said in a statement. “With this new round of funding, our potential is endless as we reinvest in our core product and continue to further innovate on how we motivate people to be active.”
Fitbit has made increasingly targeted moves to grow its business within the healthcare ecosystem. No longer able to rely on the consumer market alone to stay financially healthy, the company has continually stepped up its game to prime itself as a digital health company in its own right. Now, CNBC reports the company is working to make itself a part of the booming “sleep tech” market by developing tools to help diagnose and monitor sleep apnea, a common condition that is marked by shallow breathing and pauses in respiration during sleep. While it isn’t yet known exactly what form that will take, Fitbit already has much of the technological capabilities to start building such a device. Conor Heneghan, the company’s lead research scientist, told CNBC they are exploring the use of heart rate monitoring and optical technologies to track oxygen levels. “We’d perform a useful public service by alerting users to the fact that they have a problem,” Heneghan told CNBC. The company expects to bring a product to market within a year.
Google’s DeepMind, the firm behind the human-besting AlphaGo software, launched a healthcare platform in partnership with the U.K’s Moorfield Eye Hospital and Royal Free London in 2015. Since then, it applied computer smarts to eye diagnoses, cancer screening, and electronic patient record management. However, DeepMind have now broadened its efforts to Musgrove Park Hospital. Starting this month, doctors and nurses at Musgrove Park will get DeepMind’s Streams app for iPhone, which helps spot early signs of acute kidney injury, allowing the clinical staff to view “results of X-rays, scans or blood tests, in one place at the touch of a button.” “This is all about early detection of seriously unwell patients so that we can immediately escalate care, ensure a very rapid response, and make sure they are treated quickly by the right specialist doctor,” Luke Gompels, a consultant in medicine at Musgrove Park Hospital, told the BBC.