We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Drayson Technologies has closed a £15m Series C round led by Woodford Investment Management. The HealthTech firm struck a licensing deal which will see the NHS gain £5m worth of equity as part of the round. The University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will now work together with Drayson Technologies as part of the five-year strategic research agreement (SRA). Peter Knight, chief information and digital officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented on the agreement: “I am delighted that the Trust and the University of Oxford, working in partnership, have reached this agreement with Drayson Technologies. With now more than £41m in funding, Drayson Technologies seeks to make it easier and cheaper for companies in the space to deploy, own and run IoT networks.” The announcement comes after Drayson Technologies closed a £8m Series B round in May last year.
GE Healthcare will buy Novia Strategies, the company announced this week, building on its U.S. healthcare consulting business. Executives from GE Healthcare say the acquisition of Nova Strategies, which was founded 22 year ago by clinicians, will help the company on its own commitment to outcomes-based strategies and technology. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Nova Strategies will become part of GE Healthcare Camden Group, which has advised more than 2,400 hospitals and health systems on issues such as redesigning care delivery and succeeding with population health management. “Over the past two decades, we’ve saved hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars, improved patient outcomes and redesigned delivery so they can care for patients for generations to come,” Nancy Lakier, CEO of Novia Strategies, said in a statement.
Doctors in the UK are increasingly using Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat to discuss information about their patients, despite a ban on the use of internet-based messaging apps, experts say. Due to the lack of digital sharing systems, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) doctor use groups on Facebook and Whatsapp to share details about patients, according to Alisdair Macnair, an NHS doctor based at Cambridge. “I am empathetic with doctors because there is a need and desire among healthcare professionals to share this information and the fact that nothing exists for them to do so is a huge problem,” said Kate McCarthy, healthcare analyst at UK-based Forrester Research. This comes after Google’s DeepMind had breached data laws after an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation found that 1.6 million patient records were shared. The artificial intelligence company said it was developing an app to alert doctors and nurses about patients at risk of kidney injury.
Wellframe, makers of mobile patient engagement and care management software, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by F-Prime Capital. Existing investors DFJ also contributed, and the new capital brings the company’s total funding to date to $25 million. Wellframe teams up with health plans and providers to offer a suite of customisable care plans that are designed to keep patients engaged via direct communication channels. The company’s platform includes a web-based clinician dashboard and also a patient-facing mobile app including two-way messaging and care plans to amplify the reach of care capabilities within a health system. “With this financing, we’re well positioned to respond to growing market demand, while further expanding the scope of what we offer as a partner,” Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair said in a statement.
Two companies, Oscar Health and Humana are joining forces to launch a new commercial health insurance product. The companies announced their “strategic partnership” saying the new health plans be available to small businesses in a nine-country region around Nashville, Tennessee, expecting to launch this fall. The companies chose Nashville to launch the new products because it’s “home to one of the fastest growing small business communities in the country and has established itself as a hotbed for health technology innovation,” they said. They said the new plans, branded under the recently launched Oscar for Business name, will deliver a member experience that features Oscar’s Concierge care teams, 24/7 access to telemedicine and care search tools. Partnering with Humana, added Oscar CEO Mario Scholsser, is ideal “because of our shared commitment to innovation, technology and our members.”
A team of NIH-funded researchers at Stanford University have published some results in Nature from a large global study of activity data, collected by Azumio’s Argus smartphone app. The data showcased a handful of findings that could have implications for public health programs targeting obesity. The dataset, which began to be collected in 2015, included a total of 68 million days of minute-by-minute step recordings from 717,527 anonymized Argus users. The main takeaway form the study was that it wasn’t the average activity of a country that correlated with its obesity rates, but the range of activity levels contained in that average. Another finding about countries with high activity inequality was that it also broke down on gender lines, with women being generally less activity than men, and the correlation between the walkability of a city and its activity equality – and that correlation was more pronounced among women.
Solera Health, the Phoenix-based company that has created a marketplace for digital and in-person diabetes prevent programmes, has raised $18.3 million in a round led by Adams Street Partners. This is Solera’s largest funding to date, bringing in its total funding to $30.3 million. Solera make sa platform that connects community organisation with digital chronic disease prevention programmes, such as the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP). The technology allows referrals to the programs easier, helps customers manage payments and reimbursement, and aggregates data form the programmes, making it easier for community groups to enrol people in the prevention programmes. With this new round of funding, the company is beginning to look to other chronic disease management and prevention programmes that could benefit from the same infrastructure.
Locum’s Nest, a UK technology startup aiming to disrupt the way NHS hospitals staff temporary doctor vacancies, has raised $1.4 million (£1.1 million) in a round led by UK investment manager Albion Capital and Oman-based innovation firm IDO Investments. In the UK, NHS hospitals have traditionally used locum agencies to fill temporary staffing gaps, but those agencies can end up costing hospitals quite a bit on top of what they pay locum doctors. With Locum’s Nest, doctors and hospitals can sign up for a mobile device-based system that efficiently places available doctors with vacant spots with a “pay as you go” structure that’s designed to save hospitals money. Dr. Nicholas Andreou, co-founder of Locum’s Nest, said in a statement, referring to himself and his cofounder Dr. Ahmed Shahrabani. “We’ve both done shifts as locum doctors and we had a feeling that the hospital and the doctors would get a better service and more satisfaction if they organized the shifts themselves.”