A tech-enabled healthtech revolution is well and truly in play judging by the superb businesses on the Digital Innovators list blazing a trail in this area, and lives are being transformed for the better as a result.
While lifestyle fitness apps have been the popular entry point to consumers managing their own health digitally, uMotif takes this a step further by allowing users to log data that is then sent to their health care providers for more personalised, informed care. With the healthcare industry stymied as ever by funding hurdles which slow down the research process, companies like uMotif open the doors to a mind-blowing level of data that has the potential to change the way the industry responds to illness and disease.
When the data suggest that you do need to see a doctor (and a real-life appointment is proving hard to come by) Babylon Health continues the mobile health experience with the offer of online doctor consultations carried out via your smartphone. There are of course a number of legal challenges for developers navigating the market of m-Health apps, all the more so when operating in different countries due to the differing national implementation of the Medical Device Directive and the requirements of data protection.
But the burgeoning innovations in healthtech aren't limited to smartphones – both Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems and Goshawk Communications stand out from the crowd, with the former inventing an implant that uses advanced bioengineering and monitoring technologies to act as the "USB connector" of prosthetics to change amputees' lives forever, and the latter addressing a need for those with hearing loss to communicate and integrate more fully with society through a software platform that enhances the frequencies that users cannot hear until they reach a normal hearing level. The challenge for these kinds of businesses is to make their solutions widely available to all, requiring ongoing investment.
Whether targeting specific or widespread health issues, healthtech innovations have typically received less mainstream funding and attention in Europe than in the US. But we are now starting to see this change, with a new accelerator programme recently launched in London specifically for digital health startups and with some sizeable seed funding deals starting to hit the headlines. 2017 looks set to be the breakthrough year for healthtech innovations.