We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
BrainWaveBank, a brain health technology start-up founded in 2015, has raised £1m in funding from the Angel CoFund, techstart NI, Innovate UK and Invest Northern Ireland. The start-up is developing technologies for early detection of dementia, through a wearable device and a smartphone or tablet. The user will play games that challenge different cognitive skills, which will detect the earliest signs of cognitive decline and offer advice on how to make lifestyle changes. Ronan Cunningham, CEO and co-founder of BrainWaveBank, said: “We are very excited to be supported in achieving this vision by such a strong team of leading technology investors and innovation agencies.”
IBM Watson Health and Israel-based MedyMatch Technology are joining AI forces in hospital emergency rooms to help doctors detect intracranial bleeding resulting in cases of head trauma and stroke. Both companies said they will develop interoperability between MedyMatch’s application and IBM Watson Health Imaging’s offerings, and IBM will distribute the MedyMatch brain bleed detection application through its sales channels. MedyMatch Chairman and CEO Gene Saragnese said, “Engaging closely with IBM allows for a near-zero footprint implementation at a customer location delivering AI to the bedside, where I believe the future of healthcare lies.”
New York City-based betterPT successfully raised $1.5 million for its mobile platform connecting patients to physical therapists, with sole investor Loeb Holding Corp in the seed round. The idea of the company comes out of a law recently passed in 29 out of 50 states known as “direct access”, which allows patients to get up to 10 physical therapist visits without a prescription and still be reimbursed for those visits. Co-founder and chief medical officer Dr. Stephen Fealy said “This is an incremental improvement to the traditional patient/therapist experience. One in which the patient will be able to book a therapy visit through an app and the physical therapist can simultaneously provide the best care for their patients.”
Scripps Translational Science Institute and WebMD are launching a new smartphone-based Apple ResearchKit study on pregnant women to improve research and resources for expectant mothers. The Healthy Pregnancy Study is built on an updated version of WebMD’s popular Pregnancy app, where users will be asked to anonymously answer questions and share connected device data with researchers to help them understand how to make pregnancies healthy. Dr. Hansa Bhargava, a pediatrician and medical editor for WebMD told MobiHealthNews, “The Research Kit here is unique in that it is taking real time data from a diverse group of pregnant women, which we can then study to determine patterns to help us better preventative care for both the mom and the baby.”
GE Healthcare CEO John Flannery said the company is taking on a digital transformation of its healthcare entity, focused on cloud, data analytics, population health, imaging and more. They will invest $500 million in its healthcare unit to support the digitalisation of its operations, whilst doubling its bench of 5,000 software engineers. GE have also partnered with UC San Francisco’s Center for Digital Health Innovation to develop a library of deep learning algorithms to empower clinicians to make faster and more effective decisions about the diagnosis and management of patients with complex medical conditions.
Teladoc has joined formed with Accolade, the on-demand healthcare concierge provider for employers, health plans and health systems, supporting members to navigate their telehealth benefits. The integrated service has already been available to several of the two companies’ shared clients, and showing increased utilisation of Teladoc’s offerings. When someone is on the Accolade platform, the company’s Health Assistants steer across to Teladoci’s benefits, presenting them with the appropriate plan of action depending on their needs.
Researchers exploring how robots could transform healthcare have received nearly £1m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to help progress new technology. This will allow the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (ECR) to develop four new robots which will investigate how they could be used in different areas of the healthcare system. Professor David Lane, of Heriot-Watt University, said “Part of this investment will support our research into affordable, robot-assisted surgical and diagnostic devices that can benefit the NHS, as well as be used as solutions for global health challenges.”
The University of Essex has a plan to save the NHS billions of pounds per year by outsourcing treatment of minor ailments to a fleet of automated, AI-powered general practitioners available through a smartphone. Orbital Media and Innovate UK partnered up with a group of developers and data scientists to collaborate for 30 months to develop photo realistic avatars that will function as primary physician chatbots, where people can access the service for things like coughs, colds and flu to get interactive medical information. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology have the potential to transform so many aspects of our everyday lives,” Dr. Luca Citi, of the University’s Computer Science and Electronic Engineering school said in a statement.
VitalTrax, a Philadelphia-based start-up focused on patient engagement in clinical trials, has received a $150,000 seed investment, being the first investment from a new $6 million digital health fund launched this past December by Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Safeguard Scientifics, and Independence Health Group. With many start-ups facing the problem of connecting patients with appropriate clinical trials for their condition, VitalTrax’s approach to the issue is to focus on patient engagement and give patients an easy to use app to present their clinical trial options, describing the user experience almost as a social media platform rather than traditional clinical trial documents.