We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Last March marked a historic moment for health technology – Dr. Gaurav Gupta, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, as they successfully implanted a plastic 3D-printed chunk of skull bone into patient Christopher Cahill. USA Today noted that the simulation bone was based on the patient’s CT scan which perfectly matched the missing section. Meanwhile, a Chinese surgery completed a similar 3D-printing process, replacing a patient’s second to seventh cervical vertebrae. If 3D-printed bones becomes a widely accepted medical treatment, it wouldn’t be unexpected. We have relied on replacements and supplements for hundreds of years and we’ve been making them more high-tech as our knowledge increased. 3D-printing replacement might just become normal soon.
MedAware, which leverages machine learning algorithms to find and eliminate dangerous prescription errors, has raised $8 million BD (Beckton, Dickson and Company), Gefen Capital, Our Crowd and Yingcheng City Fubon Technology Company all participated in the Series A round. Prescription errors are unfortunately common, and according to AHRQ, 5 percent of patients will encounter an adverse drug event, with roughly half of them preventable. “MedAware was purpose built around our commitment to patient safety,” CEO Gidi Stein said in a statement. “Every catastrophic error we identify is a patient saved. Through this round of Series A funding we will be able to build on the successes we’ve achieved to date and scale our approach to protect physicians and their patients all over the world.” MedAware will use the new funding to develop additional AI-powered clinical decision support offerings. They also plan to improve its existing algorithms to catch more errors.
Bolton NHS Foundation trust has signed a major contract to provide enhanced digital solutions to improve patient care and outcomes. The £30million project sees the Trust collaborate with Allscripts Sunrise Electronic Patient Record (EPR) to implement an electronic record of every aspect of a patient’s care. At the moment, different departments collate their records separately, though this investment will allow the trust to develop an electronic health record for patients who have treatment at Royal Bolton Hospital. Ken Bradshaw, Deputy Chief Informatics Officer at the Trust said: “The new technology will provide a seamless process, and make it so much easier for our clinicians to access a single, detailed and up-to-date view of a patient’s health record.”
Panasonic has launched a new nurse communication system for senior living facilities. The offering combines some of their existing communication tools with a new software – Direct Care Connect. The result is that all of the alarms in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility are routed through a single hub and assigned to specific caregivers, who can be connected by a cordless phone from Panasonic or through an Android app. The system works like a call centre, smartly routing alarm calls to the closest and available caregiver, which cracks locations through RFID tags or Bluetooth in the handsets, increasing efficiency. Oliver Bodden, product manager of unified communications at Panasonic says Panasonic is targeting senior living facilities in particular because they tend to have built up an amalgam of old, incomplete communication systems.
A £86 million fund for investment in innovative healthcare technology has been announced by the government – it will also include the launch of a new Digital Health Catalyst. The multi-million-pound fund was unveiled last week, and will support small and medium sized enterprises to develop, test and integrate new technologies in the NHS. The money is provided jointly by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Health. Ben Moody, head of health and social care at techUK, said in a statement that this catalyst will be “a great boost for innovators in the sector”. A £6 million pathway transformation fund has also been created, which will help NHS organisations.
Search giant, Google, has acquired a Seattle based health tech start up, Senosis Health. The health monitoring start-up claims to turn smartphones into medical devices that collect a range of health statistics. Senosis Health was founded by Indian origin Shwetak Patel, a professor in the University of Washington and visiting researcher at Microsoft. According to media report, the firm had recently come out of stealth mode and developed three applications to monitor – Hemoglobin, Lung health and early jaundice screening, using the inbuilt functions of the phone such as the camera, flash, accelerometer and microphone. For now, Google’s plan with Senosis Health is unknown. The parent, Alphabet, has invested in various bio-tech and health-tech firms since the last few years.
Austin, Texas-based LVL Technologies has raised $6.75 million in a self-described Series A round led by Samsung Catalyst Fund. LVL Technologies is focused on building health and fitness wearables that track an additional metric that most market incumbents don’t – hydration. The sensor uses infrared light to measure the water content in a user’s blood steam, which the device then prompts the user in real time to hydrate. “At Samsung, we’ve long believed that wearables will help usher in the next wave of innovation in digital health,” Shankar Chandran, managing director and head of the Samsung Catalyst Fund, said in a statement. In additional to hydration, LVL’s wearable (called LVL One) tracks activity, heart rate, sleep and self-reported mood. According to the company’s website, the device to set to ship in summer 2018.