May 17, 2020

There is an urgent need and a huge opportunity to embrace Life Sciences 4.0, report claims

AstraZeneca
GlaxoSmithKline
Aetna
Apple
Catherine Sturman
3 min
Life Sciences 4.0 (Getty Images)
The need to create value-based, personalised digital tools and services has never been more important within an ever-evolving world. However, the health...

The need to create value-based, personalised digital tools and services has never been more important within an ever-evolving world. However, the healthcare industry remains ripe for innovation, with potential on every level to support healthcare providers and organisations to deliver exceptional patient care.

A report by Ernest & Young has thoroughly illustrated the need for life sciences companies to implement data centric platforms to improve health outcomes and ensure a reduction in escalating healthcare costs on a global scale. The product will no longer be the main figurehead to drive value, but patient outcomes.

Whilst other industries have embraced technological innovation, consumers are now demanding increased access and control to their healthcare data to feel empowered, as well as gain the ability to share health data with others. Healthcare providers and payers are therefore continually looking at new, innovative ways to unlock value, combining data to look at new opportunities based on consumer need and therefore, implement data-driven platforms of care.

The CVS Health and Aetna acquisition in 2017 signalled a move towards increased collaboration between healthcare and insurance providers and has led to a flurry of mergers since. Cognizant’s recent acquisition of Bolder Healthcare Solutions, Cigna’s $67bn acquisition deal with Express Scripts and Cerner’s decision to partner with Salesforce (announced following the HIMSS18) are some of note.

As David Redfern, Chief Strategy Officer of GlaxoSmithKline, has predicted, “Some form of platform that uses data analytics that will be the catalyst for change in health care. What if Google becomes a major insurance company and drives more precise outcomes measurements based on data?”

Technology companies are therefore looking to the healthcare industry with increased interest to hone in on the user experience and provide solutions based on convenience.

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Apple is looking to enhance the health capabilities of its Apple Watch technology and aims to turn the iPhone into a medical device specialised in cardiology. The company has also partnered with a number of US hospital providers to enable US citizens to gain access to their individual health records through its mobile app and launched its own medical clinics for its employees and their families.

Additionally, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are now investing in this space to challenge rising healthcare costs through creating digital solutions in a new partnership. The news sent shockwaves through the industry and has led to companies to look at increased ways of catering to consumer demands, and in some cases, merging with like-minded companies to fully cement their position in the market for the future.

Amazon is also quietly looking at entering the pharmaceutical space, much to the concern of traditional companies.

“Many consumers struggle to afford new medicines or devices.  As life spans increase, public and private payers struggle to fund health systems that can provide high-quality care to their oldest and most frail,” the report has highlighted.

“Companies developing different applications, products or tools will join forces to create platforms of care that address specific health needs. Above these individual platforms of care, global technology, AI and data analytics companies will combine skills to become “platform aggregators,” enabling technologies to scale insights gained at the platform of care level,” the report added.

“AstraZeneca, for instance, has partnered with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to use the tech company’s AI capabilities to safeguard the medical supply chain and improve disease education and chronic disease management. In addition to global technology players, governments have a role to play in developing regulations that promote the safe and appropriate sharing of data."

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

homecare
elderlycare
digitalhealthcare
medicationscheduling
3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

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.” 

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