There are industries that really need digital transformation to speed up their development and not fall behind the rapidly changing world. Some of them right now are taking advantages of it and introduce new solutions pretty well, others need more time to implement it - but we all can agree that they have to do it. Digital transformation in education is one of the examples of how adopting new technologies by more traditional industries can help improve their performance. Now it’s time for healthcare to keep up with it.
Healthcare startups are growing
Medtech is one of the most diverse and innovative high-tech sectors with over 12,400 patent applications filed per year only in Europe. Healthcare startups are introducing machine learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality to improve patients treatment and doctors development. And the state of the art startup solutions is attracting the investors’ attention. According to StartUp Health research, 2018 was another record year for digital innovation funding which topped 14 billion dollars - almost 3 billion more than in 2017 and even 14 times more than it was eight years ago! Numbers are impressive, but we cannot forget the main reason for the medical startups' activity: improving people’s lives. Here I listed 5 different startups that are doing it well.
A London-based healthcare startup founded in 2016 with a goal of creating the first digital hospital that will suit the future needs. Or to put it in another way, the future, and the present requirements, because as its founders claim the surfeit of administrative processes is the factor that withholds technological development of the medical industry. Medbelle’s main objective is to 'digitize the patient journeys' and they try to attain it with their digital hospital.
In April 2019 Medbelle announced that they raised 6 million euros for their project advance. But what does it really mean a 'digital hospital' and how does it work? It gives patients the possibility to book a free online consultation with professionals. Currently, their offer is limited to cosmetic and orthopedic surgery, skin cancer care, and dental treatment, but will certainly extend with the investors' interest (and money, of course). I think that the best definition of their mission is to transform the medical processes from administrative into patient-oriented.
Another interesting medical technology startup with a mission very similar to that Medbelle one is a New York-based Maven. What distinguishes this healthcare startup is the fact that in the world of growing social inequalities affecting especially on women and their families, Maven believes that healthcare is not a luxury, but necessity and high-quality care should be a standard.
Maven focuses on solving women’ health problems often belittled by regular healthcare and try to help them during the whole maternity process, including not only the pregnancy care but also postpartum depression treatment. The most important is not to leave women alone with their problems, that’s why Maven founders also want to go beyond healthcare and take care of their return to work, ensuring coaching, training and childcare guides.
Have you ever searched your symptoms online? I assume so, and maybe you are a part of 59% of Americans who look for health information, according to the Pew Research Center study. What’s more, after doing that 'research' you probably gleaned that you were going to die. K Health founders decided to fight with that deceptive way of self-diagnosis and created an app in collaboration with thousands of doctors and hundreds of thousands of patients.
K app makes use of Artificial Intelligence and analyzes data collected from anonymous users with their symptoms and medical background. How does it work? The app relies on the clinical data recorded by doctors and asks you precise questions about your pain or other issues. You can see how other 'People Like You', meaning at the same age and gender as you and with similar symptoms, were diagnosed and treated. K Health gives you a possibility to contact a doctor affiliated with an app. Those are certified primary care doctors, and it will take them a few minutes to advise you on your further activities.
The first healthcare startup on our list dedicated to physicians and their development. FundamentalVR founders set themselves a clear goal - create a virtual reality training for surgeons to help them get proficiency at their specialization. They developed a SaaS service named Fundamental Surgery, which they like to call a 'flight simulator for surgery'.
The main aim was to ensure the possible realistic feeling when training with this VR app and they achieved that, but there are other benefits worth mention here. Using this virtual reality solution is more cost-effective than work on cadavers. This traditional type of training is not always practical and many surgeons have limited access to it. Furthermore, VR provides as many repetitions as you want, which is impossible when training on cadavers. Another essential feature is creating customized training.
Another thing that makes digital health are a notch above traditional healthcare is higher awareness and possibilities to develop research into rare diseases. And here comes the RDMD with its mission of accelerating and improving this specific treatment. Its founder, Onno Faber, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease affecting his hearing. He decided to make use of his experience as a technology entrepreneur and created one of the digital health startups that can change people lives.
RDMD, founded in 2017, has a simple goal: make rare diseases even rarer. Patients often meet a barrier of lack of understanding, information, and care. Their medical information is usually kept in hospitals, and they have limited access to it. RDMD wants to change it, make this data more accessible and give patients control over their medical background so they can be aware of their conditions and consult other doctors if needed.
Is digital transformation in healthcare a right solution?
What stops industries from implementing digital transformation solutions in the healthcare industry is the fear of the dehumanization. Things like machine learning, artificial intelligence or virtual reality are still associated with robots who would like to take control over people’s world. But when we look at the healthcare startups activities, we can point out one common thing - although they are digital, they put the human factor in the center. Right now doctors have to focus more on administrative processes than on patients. Medical technology startups can change it and give them more influence on their treatment.