Mobile health technologies are growing apace
The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly digital, with growing access to healthcare services through mobile technologies and healthcare apps.
It is clear to see that the need for digitization in healthcare continues to grow worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration has also recently posted a new job advert for its Digital Health Team, highlighting a growing healthcare market to support new and emerging tools and applications.
With the use of mobile technologies and smart devices, users have been granted increased control surrounding the management of their healthcare, which as become aligned with a growing expectation for patient centered care which is personalised and of high quality. This is therefore supported through the use of advanced data analytics.
Providers are also able to embed essential information surrounding the maintenance of patient records and drive further engagement through these services.
It is common practice for patients to Google their symptoms through the use of mobile technologies, book GP appointments and look for further health information through internet services. However, there is a growing need to find ways in which to support a growing digital health industry, which will see this traditional industry become an attractive (and lucrative) market.
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Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have all been key players supporting the development of health start-ups. Examples are Apple’s partnership with Cochlear Ltd in the development of cochlear implants which are fully compatible with Apple products, as well continuing to provide health wearables, such as smartwatches. Amazon is keeping quiet about its focus on healthcare, but is selling healthcare products online, whilst Facebook continues to invest in essential research and development facilities.
Google has realised its role in supporting the search for healthcare symptoms, and has recently developed a tool in which to support those with clinical depression. Additionally, a fertility app has been created, and drones are helping in the delivery of blood across rural Africa, all of which are utilised through mobile apps.
Such innovation is leading to increased competition, where companies are seeing the need to create new ways of working and develop key mobile technologies to drive further growth. It has recently been revealed that Fosun Pharmaceutical aims to expand its presence within one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets, producing drugs at low cost, with high quality results.
With strong movement in the US and China, the UK is also seeing a greater push in digitisation and the centralisation of data through new technologies. It is believed that UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to announce that by 2018, UK patients will gain access to their health records, have the ability to book GP appointments and prescriptions, and effectively manage their health through one central, digital platform.
This will no doubt be a warmly welcomed by patients in the UK, but will cause consternation with health professionals. Utilising systems which have been deemed highly sensitive and private through traditional services, such information has only been previously shared only between health professionals.
There will therefore be a dramatic shift in the way in which healthcare is perceived and delivered, and give patients greater control over their healthcare needs. In order to test such technologies, pilot mobile applications are currently underway.
Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”