Technology is rapidly revolutionising the way we live and work in many contexts, and there’s a particular focus on using the latest innovations to boost our personal health. The likes of Samsung and Apple have all launched their own health-tech products and services in the last year or so, from apps to wearables.
However, the e-health sector isn’t being driven by tech giants worth billions. Instead, entrepreneurs and startups are introducing some of the most innovative health-tech products, all of which have the potential to change our lives dramatically. We look at the best.
Founded in 2013 by award-winning designer Warren Fauvel, Nudjed is a Welsh tech startup that aims to help busy people fit healthcare into their busy lives. The online platform collects data across several key areas of health and offers insights into how they can improve their well-being. This information can be collected across a whole company, giving managers the ability to identify the health of their staff and how they can improve. Clients are then able to design health and well-being programmes.
Doctors and nurses have the tough job of keeping up-to-date with a tonne of patient records, so understandably, mix-ups can happen. But IT security company Imprivata has solved this problem with PatientSecure, an identification system that uses palm vein biometrics to link patients to their records within the hospital. The system is already being used within the NHS, and in the United States, over 22 million patients in 350 hospitals have been identified already.
Sport Heroes Group
Getting lots of exercise is a must if you’re to keep fit and healthy, although motivation is often the tricky part. French tech start-up Sport Heroes Group wants to get you completing fitness challenges by letting you earn discounted and free fitness products. All you have to do is sign-up to the platform and connect your fitness tracker to get things going. Partners include the likes of Spotify, Redbull, Nike, Adidas and Volvic.
Developed by DataArt, KidPro is a prototype-based healthcare application for children. It attempts to make a course of medicinal treatment fun and rewarding by ‘gamifying’ the experience, utilising pieces of professional medical software. At the heart of the app, there’s an animated character the child plays and interacts with. It cares for the child’s health, confirms their condition and reminds them about the medication they take.
If there’s one technology that’s revolutionising the health world, it’s wearables. Misfit is just one of many companies developing smartwatches and fitness trackers to keep us healthy. Its latest product is the Ray, which provides fitness and sleep tracking so you keep motivated, through collecting data including steps taken, calories burnt, distance travelled and sleep duration. What sets it apart is the fact that it never needs charging and is water resistant up to 50 metres.
Virtual Autopsy Table
The University of Linköping in Sweden may not be a startup, but it’s also using tech to revolutionise the medical industry. It’s developed a virtual autopsy table that lets users interact with realistic 3D scans of real bodies. The technology is being used as a teaching service, ensuring students get hands-on experience where possible.
Sometimes it can be impossible to go to the gym when you’re busy with work and home life, so you end up sacrificing your fitness. Aflete is looking to change this. It’s the world’s first virtual gym where you can access trained fitness instructors and personal trainers. You can use the platform to get healthy when it suits you, and you get given tailored fitness plans and recipes from experts. You can use Aflete at home and in your own time.
PushDoctor is a digital healthcare app that lets you speak to a GP from home. Using a tablet, computer or smartphone, the app gives you the ability to speak with a doctor over Facetime or Skype. If they identify a problem, a prescription is posted directly to your home or local pharmacy. It’s being targeted at professionals and busy parents who may not be able to schedule an appointment with their GP.
Doctify, launched by experienced surgeon Stephanie Eltz, is a healthcare platform designed specifically for patients. It lets them search, compare and book appointments with specialists that suit their needs, providing step-to-step guidance, reviews and information before and after treatment. Eltz launched the business with Dr Suman Saha, a fellow surgeon. They both work for the NHS and split their commitments.
Spun out of Oxford University, Oxehealth is a startup that’s quickly becoming a leader in the UK digital health market. It builds software that remotely monitors vital signs through standard digital cameras. Oxecam, which is one of the firm’s core products, measures breathing and heart rate from a distance of several metres. The company believes it has designed software that’s “instrumental” to changing the way healthcare practices are run.
Sophia Genetics has just launched the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) platform for the industry. With the aim of transforming the way patients are diagnosed and treated, it takes a plethora of inputs, including genomic data, and analyses them. It can go through thousands of data profiles to improve its accuracy. The more patient information is shared, the better the algorithms become at detecting mutations and variants in genetic code.
Based in Silicon Valley, Infostretch is a company that’s actively exploring wearable technology and how it can impact patients, now and in the future. It conducts tests and fine tunes wearables so they’re capable of being used in the fast-paced healthcare industry. Recently, it’s been experimenting with indigestible health sensors and sensor patches for digital medicine.
Frog and Aspect Imaging have been working together to develop WristView, a dedicated hand and wrist MRI product that’s affordable to make and maintain. The system is smaller than the typical MRI scanner, with patients only having to put their wrists into the device. It operates silently and sports an integrated operator system, which bodes for close patient contact throughout the process. This, according to the firm, results in a safer and non-claustrophobic experience for patients.
Healthcare and technology have gone hand-in-hand for some time. But these startups and innovative firms are showing that rather than operate in parallel, technol can directly influence medical and healthcare and evolve the delivery of care into something that is much more proactive rather than reactive.
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