What AXA PPP HealthTech & You 2017 finalists tell us about the vibrancy of health tech in the UK
According to TechCity News, the global health-tech market is expected to be valued at £43bn by 2018, “presenting a very enticing opportunity for start-ups, scale-ups and established players in the space to innovate and tap into the sector.”
In addition, some are predicting a boom in investment in health tech. 2017 has yet to proof this wrong. Throughout the UK – from dementia detection to devices that strengthen the pelvic floor, from ultrasound-guided needles to internal-health trackers, the first quarter of this year has seen impressive and hefty investment that spans verticals and geography, with start-ups from Belfast to Bristol procuring funding.
At the forefront of this shift is AXA PPP healthcare, who has just announced the finalists in its third initiative to support and highlight innovation and disruption in health-tech. AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards 2017 garnered 190 applications for this year’s competition. 17 finalists were split into six categories, reflecting the diversity of both health tech and the variety of platforms, devices, and APIs that make up this vibrant sector. Each category has three finalists and the winners will be announced on 27 April 2017.
But what does the range of finalists tell us about health-tech innovation and disruption in the UK?
It tells us that innovation in health tech is moving towards a new era where individuals can better control and monitor varying aspects of their own health. From trackers to apps, from monitoring to wearables, the AXA PPP Health Tech & You finalists have developed solutions for specific health problems, aiming to enhance the lives of the people affected by a range of conditions, and – more significantly – share essential data with the friends, family, carers and medical professionals.
Trackers and smart devices – monitoring food, heart health, and blood cell counts
Empowering users by enabling them to monitor their own health was a key theme. Kardia Mobile, for example, is a device that allows users to check their heart rhythm regularly, alerting them if medical attention should be sought. This is particularly important for millions at risk of arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems), which may be symptom-free. A portable food allergen tester, currently in development as a university project, allows users to identify allergens within a meal.
Affinity – a connected device for people with cancer to monitor their blood cell counts from home – automatically shares results with the user’s doctor. This can help people identify if their blood cell counts are dropping whilst they are at home in between chemotherapy cycles, avoid infection, and keep treatment on track. The Cellnovo insulin pump is compact, tubeless, intuitive and entirely connected, allowing the patient’s condition to be continually monitored by family members and healthcare professionals in real time. For asthma, Inspair’s smart inhaler provides daily feedback on inhaler use and misuse, as well as helpful information on environmental factors.
Smartphones are now an integral part of modern life. We carry them everywhere and refer to them incessantly, making them ideal vehicles for health tech. Several finalists have created apps or platforms that utilise a smartphone’s proximity and accessibility.
MyAsthma – an app designed with a variety of different features to help asthmatics manage their condition – helps users learn what triggers their asthma from location, weather and air quality. Calm Harm helps children and young people manage their urge to self-harm, while TickerFit gives health professionals the tools to support patients in self-managing their heart health. uMotif harnesses digital tools to capture high quality health data from patients, through digital tools they love to use, improving clinical appointments and modernising clinical research trials.
Computers are almost as equally ubiquitous as the smartphone, and three of the finalists have developed platforms that help users manage their health from their desktop. LiveSmart is a health assessment that helps individuals to understand all aspects of their internal health, relating the results back to a person’s everyday nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choice via a user-friendly dashboard. MIRA Rehab turns physical and cognitive exercises into video games, making therapy easier to follow, and tracks the patient’s performance data. The power of social media made its way onto the finalist’s list as well with HealthUnlocked, a social network where users are supported to improve their health through online peer support and self-management.
Wearables have moved beyond fitness trackers and smart rings, and AXA PPP’s finalists in this area support this claim. Sensewear is collection of clothes created in line with therapies used for Sensory Processing Disorders and autism, and are designed to stimulate and improve awareness of the senses, while training wearers to better use them all. Kokoon Technology has design sleep-sensing headphones embedded with audio technology to help the user to rest, relax and focus.
When the 4.5 Blog interviewed Richard Cooper, Head of Digital and Content Marketing at AXA PPP, we asked him what innovations he hoped to see at this year’s awards. “One key area of interest to us is in the Eldercare space,” he said. “We believe people should be able to live independently for as long as they want to and are safely able to, and this can be facilitated through the provision of good well designed technology.”
This year’s finalists have certainly delivered, providing a range of innovations that help not just elderly patients, but the people who support them. Memrica Prompt (which won TechPitch 4.5 back in February 2015) – an app that assists dementia sufferers by linking photos, videos and shared histories to reminders – learns users’ patterns of behaviour and can begin to predict what information will be needed, sending alerts to users and families. MonitorMe is an intelligent landline telephone that monitors blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygenation measurement by using special sensors. The grip can be maintained by older people and people suffering from arthritis. MABLE is a personalised care management system for older adults, people with dementia and their families to improve their quality of life; monitoring loneliness, depression, anxiety and safety. Personalised feedback helps carers to engage positively, communicate regularly and reduce isolation.
“We want the AXA PPP Health Tech & You 2017 awards to be a route to help us engage with the most relevant and exciting new personal health technology and the entrepreneurs who develop them,” said Richard Cooper.
Judging by the calibre and range of its finalists, AXA PPP has certainly succeeded.
The winners of AXA PPP Health Tech & You 2017 awards will be announced on 27 April 2017.