The COVID-19 pandemic did more than just highlight certain vulnerabilities and shortcomings within the existing healthcare model, it also presented opportunities for healthcare startups to innovate their services to better adapt with the overwhelming demands of the industry.
It is safe to say 2020 has more than pushed the healthcare sector to new heights, with its startup economy being a key player in essentially remoulding the entire landscape of medicine and remote health. The concept of virtual care delivery has been widely accessible, the transformation to go fully digital being accelerated at a faster pace, and more technologies have been adapted to cater to the demands of a changing society as we knew it.
With human tragedy sometimes being mutually exclusive with human ingenuity and innovation, the biological need to evolve and adapt was borne out of people’s desires to not let COVID-19 put a damper on their plans. This type of evolution can be seen with the healthcare sector rushing to rapidly advance their digitalisation efforts, especially within digihealth startups. The pandemic has then nudged the direction of the industry into more technology-based platforms and a proliferation of digital health ventures.
In 2020, the healthcare startup economy saw great feedback and support from investors all over the world. It experienced a record-shattering funding of $15.3 billion, from its previous years’ already generous $10.6 billion. With this level of support, it will most likely grow in the coming year as more importance on personal health is being widely encouraged.
As we get whiff of the COVID19 vaccine being in its last manufacturing stages, 2021 will also be seeing health and wellness being one of the major driving forces for the year’s success, with these startups helping it get there.
1. Maru Health
As the pandemic forced people into isolation for prolonged periods of time, you can expect more people seeking out solutions to cope with the mental strain it has put on their lives. Meru Health offers a virtual 12-week program to address anxiety, depression, and burnout to provide the best treatment plan for their clients. Patients can receive detailed reports and support for their situations, including licensed therapists, psychiatrists, anonymous peer support, biofeedback, and mindfulness practices.
2. Babylon Health
This digital health startup focuses on providing accessible healthcare for millions, whether it’s the flu or pneumonia. Babylon Health connects patients with doctors through a video appointment or digital consultation around the clock, 24/7 every day, making the platform accessible to even international clients. The company currently has employees from over 60 countries and have established protocols for the UK, US, Canada, Rwanda, and APAC.
This digihealth startup, LivNao, uses this mindset as the foundation for its business model. It passively tracks every user for early indications of changes in their mental health state, and by doing so being able to deliver interventions just in time before the symptoms progress. Primarily utilised to prevent burnout in the workforce, LivNao also enables organisations, insurers, and healthcare systems to make better data-backed decisions for their patients dealing with mental stress.
Value-based primary care health tech startup, VillageMD, pioneered a 3-step model to address medical concerns. Their VillageModel Clinic allows them to gain access to physicians, setting up virtual visits through the web, and then finally home visits, where medical professionals can get a more in-depth look at the condition of patients and then assess accordingly. VillageMD’s proprietary operating system connects thousands of clinical source systems with patient data to make sure all their information is updated in real-time and physicians can make informed decisions for their patients whenever.
Putting a spotlight on rare diseases, HealX is a British digital health startup making an active effort to expedite treatments for such rarities. They work towards making drug discovery faster for patients with more than unusual medical conditions. HealX’s Rare Treatment Accelerator program also acts as a bridge between patients who suffer similar rare diseases as a form of support group, with their clinicians also being able to exchange data that might aid each other’s treatment plans.
Novoic makes use of a comprehensive speech analytics tool to detect neurological disease decades earlier than current diagnostic methods. By identifying and monitoring subtle changes in speech patterns with AI, clinicians can intervene sooner to support the best health outcomes for patients.
An unorthodox cough detection and analysis platform, Hyfe makes fast and affordable virtual diagnostics. Vocal biomaking technology for this relies on people’s cell phones, as it tracks organic, naturally occurring coughs from the in-tracking technology of the app to make for more reliable data. They record frequency, time of day, context, and amplitude. This startup especially comes in handy during flu season.
Alector, founded in 2013, has made a name for themselves as one of the pioneers for neurodegeneration through immuno-neurology. They have since identified 40 novel targets and set up 4 clinical programmes. Alector operates around the brain’s immune system to combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, making the portfolio of their programs very specific to the elderly or special cases of neurological complications.
Freenome is a biotechnology health startup that works at the junction of biology, machine learning, and medicine. Along with a spectacular team of programmers, ML experts, computational biologists and clinicians, Freenome helps with the detection of early-onset cancer with only a simple blood test. This startup from California is on its way to radically transforming the management of cancer patients through knowledge, tools, and expertise to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
HealthCrowd is a SaaS platform for healthcare communications. Founded in California, this health tech startup combines domain expertise in healthcare with ad analytics and machine learning. Through their process, they are able to help organisations deliver business results, even going so far as being one of the top mobile health messaging markets in the United States. Their platform engages text, voice, email, and nanosites all working in conjunction to provide informed results regarding various medical concerns.
The technology embedded in healthcare startups has no doubt taken a central role in society’s collective effort to mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19. As much of the world grapples with this ‘new normal’, medical startups have opened the door for more discussion regarding how modern-day health solutions should look.