May 17, 2020

The Uber-fication of Health Care: From a Business to Consumer Model

Health Tech
Patient Care
3 min
Uber connects you with a driver in minutes. The health care industry could learn from this direct approach. (Photo courtesy of Uber)
With Uber, theres no need to call a dispatcher or hail on the street. You can request a ride with the push of a button and track your drivers progress t...

With Uber, there’s no need to call a dispatcher or hail on the street. You can request a ride with the push of a button and track your driver’s progress to your location. It’s a simple yet highly effective innovation to the standard taxi service model, and one that’s proven successful.

But what if we swapped out drivers for doctors and instead of waiting for a taxi service, we wait for a health care service instead?

Well, thanks to a number of startups, the idea of an Uber-like service where doctors come to you is something that is already happening worldwide.

Medicast, Doctor on Demand, Twine Health, TalkSession, and One Medical are just a few digital health startups that are leading the way in providing consumers direct access to doctors through their smartphones.

Oscar Salazar, an early employee of Uber itself, is even planning on introducing an on-demand health care startup that would “work like Uber, but with doctors coming to you.”

[READ MORE] Is Concierge Medicine the New Primary Care?

There’s a shift taking place in health care, a “consumerization” of the industry, so to speak, where consumers are taking control of their own health care, and this is a good thing.

The Current State of the Health Care Industry

It comes as no surprise that health care, especially in the United States, is a serious problem. The U.S. spends two to three times more on health care per person than Europe and Asia but still suffers from poor health outcomes. And while the Affordable Care Act expects to extend coverage to an additional 10 million people, the system still needs to be reformed.

So where is this “consumerization” shift coming from?

For one, the cost burden of health care is already moving to the end consumer. According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, over 30 percent of health insurance plans now ask for significant out-of-pocket costs, with employee contributions nearing $5,000 annually.

Plans with a high deductible or a consumer-directed component have increased from 17 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2012, according to the foundation, and it is a trend that can only be expected to accelerate in 2015 and beyond.

With the burden and emphasis shifting to the end consumer, the fundamental business model of the health care industry is turning on its side.

[READ MORE] TOP 10: Most Innovative Health Care Startups to Watch in 2015

This new model is increasingly putting consumers at the center of their own health care decisions, and everyone else is following suit – employers are providing employee incentives for healthier lifestyles, insurers are catering to consumers who buy through online insurance exchanges, and providers and hospitals are actively marketing directly to consumers.

The Uber-fication of Health Care

When Uber came into the spotlight, it changed a lot of things. It highlighted how ineffective the current ride-sharing model is, it revealed the power of innovation and it told us to take advantage of the mobilization of the world rather than shy away from it.  

We are experiencing a technological revolution, a golden age of accessibility and mobility. And as we become more connected, the “Uber-fication” of industries will only continue.  

Health care is a difficult industry to navigate, filled with regulation, legislation and incumbency. But a new generation of entrepreneurs are entering the market and appealing to the recently-empowered class of consumers who want to take control of their own health care costs and outcomes, and they’re shaking things up. 

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

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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