The HealthTech 27: How Startups Can Transform the NHS

Rachel Guthartz

02 May 2018

Rachel Guthartz introduces three of the HealthTech 27 companies – the list of the most promising companies across nine key areas of opportunity – exploring their potential impact on the NHS.

PUBLIC’s latest report The Promise of HealthTech, includes the first ever HealthTech 27 – a not so short list of the most promising companies in the HealthTech space. The report’s author, Nicola Blackwood, compiled the list by outlining nine key NHS commissioning trends for the next few years, and mapping out the most exciting companies against those trends.

The prospective commissioning trends listed range from procurement and productivity to winter pressures and supported self-care; from prevention to recruitment and training; from patient safety to AI in pathology and radiology. Accordingly, the startups included in the HealthTech 27 are a diverse and exciting group.

Looking at the HealthTech 27 startups in a little more depth reveals both the breadth and transformative potential of the UK’s current HealthTech ecosystem. Three startups – Echo, Kheiron Medical and OurPath – give an excellent sense of how the NHS can address a range of challenges by adopting innovative technological solutions.

Procurement & Productivity: Echo

Reforming procurement processes, prescriptions and data reporting can save Acute Trusts as much as £5bn of productivity savings. Echo, a free service that delivers medicines, reminds patients when and how to take them, and when a repeat prescription is needed, is a great example of startups with the potential to significantly increase productivity and reduce costs for the NHS.

Echo synchronises with patients’ existing NHS GP practices, working with fully accredited, UK-based NHS pharmacy partners to deliver prescription-related services. In addition to reducing last minute GP/A&E appointments, Echo also minimises prescription fraud, and enables better communication – for instance, by tracking and managing prescription errors and handling drug recalls seamlessly.

AI in Pathology & Radiology: Kheiron Medical

With radiology under huge pressure (8.5% of radiologist posts are vacant), and pathology in need of improved efficiencies, it is no wonder that they have been singled out as ripe for innovation. Kheiron Medical is a medical imaging company that has developed a computer-aided radiology diagnostics tool powered by machine learning. The tool will allow radiology departments, imaging centres and hospitals to improve the efficiency, consistency and accuracy of radiology reporting and tracking.

Not only will Kheiron Medical save time and cognitive workload for doctors, it will also save costs for hospitals, and improve patient outcomes through faster response times and higher accuracy rates.

Prevention: OurPath

The rise in chronic conditions and co-morbidities is expected to cost the NHS £5bn a year in 2018 – the Five Year Forward View was clear that without a “radical upgrade in prevention and public health … we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable disease.” This is proving to be the case. Diabetes, for instance, affects 4.5 million people and its complications cost the NHS a tenth of its budget.

OurPath is a three month digital behavioural change programme that helps people to sustainably improve their health and wellbeing, helping to reduce people’s risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It includes structured educational content via web and mobile, wireless scales and activity tracker delivered to the door, and a health coach and support group to keep people on track. The average activity increase over the programme is 22%, the average amount of weight lost over six weeks and sustained over six months is 5.3kg with a 50% reduction of avoidable disease.

The HealthTech 27 is not intended as a comprehensive list – by drawing out the trends likely to dominate NHS commissioning in the coming years, The Promise of HealthTech seeks to guide aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startups. As Nicola Blackwood recommends, “startups would do well to focus, in the short-term at least, on the areas where the NHS is most open to change and new digital solutions.”

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