Technology is undoubtedly changing our world, and the way a lot of people are working and living (and balancing the two), and – with things like international conference calling – who they can work with. And one area in which technology is having a huge and rapid impact is medicine. People in the industry have shown creativity and innovation, resulting in a whole host of health sector start ups changing healthcare as we know it.
We’ve seen how telecommunications have helped in providing healthcare, making medical attention more accessible all over the world. Using conference call bridges like Call.Group are also a good way of protecting users’ privacy. After all, conferences are accessed using a third-party’s phone number (Call.Group’s!), so neither the doctor nor patient would have to share their contact information. Organisations are also capitalising on the ability to provide mobile medical advice specifically for mental health provision, helping people who might feel unable to attend face-to-face therapy. But what other technology is being developed and implemented in the quest to cure and alleviate illness?
Babylon health was conceived with the goal of genuinely universal healthcare. Its founders saw too many lives being lost because of serious impediments to accessing even basic medical attention, and so they amassed a team of scientists, clinicians, mathematicians and engineers from over 60 countries in their mission to rectify the situation.
Together, they have harnessed the powers of deep learning in creating an artificial intelligence system which helps assess and explain users’ symptoms. After these are filled into Babylon, users will be provided with information about what they are experiencing and the potential associated risks, and are directed to the most appropriate healthcare service for them.
This is a project with the power to really change – and save – a lot of lives. Access to healthcare has been a serious issue even within the UK, where the Health Secretary has urged the NHS to embrace technological progress and end the ‘postcode lottery’ which determines how we access healthcare. And in fact, Babylon itself has had a hand in this quest. It runs the GP at Hand app provided by the NHS in London. Just as telecommunications are helping make education easier to access for people across the globe, so they can help everyone access the medical help they need.
As we’ve seen with conference call recording, choosing digital communication has the added bonus of automatically creating great resources which you can access at will after the session is over. By downloading the Babylon app, you’ll be able to replay appointments and review medical records and notes so that you never have doubts or uncertainties about how your doctor explained things or what further steps they suggested.
Through Babylon, patients can connect directly with medical professionals quickly and efficiently. No matter what day it is, what time of the day, you will be able to communicate with a doctor who can provide advice and answers. Users have the option to chat on the phone, add in video, or add in textual notes and photographs.
You can even receive your prescriptions via Babylon; the doctor you have worked with can have your prescription sent to a pharmacy of your choosing, or can even organise for it to be sent directly to you.
Another impressive health sector start up is Feebris, an online platform which connects with medical devices like wearable technology and stethoscopes to create diagnoses. In this endeavour, it (like Babylon) makes use of artificial intelligence as machine learning algorithms combine with signal processing algorithms to provide clinical insights.
In particular, Feebris aims to improve health care provided to the elderly and the young, hoping to combat needless and tragic deaths from preventable and treatable diseases like pneumonia which claim the lives of the physically vulnerable.
Also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to improve health care provision is start up BenevolentAI. Its focus is on treatment rather than diagnosis, revolutionising the development of medicine from early drug discovery to late-stage clinical development. To do this, the company uses computational medicine alongside artificial intelligence to shape almost every stage that a medicine undergoes before reaching us: design, development, testing, and bringing it to the market.
Through their work, the team at BenevolentAI are also able to provide insight into the underlying causes of diseases as well as new ways to treat them. That means that the organisation has the potential to bring to light the mechanisms behind a lot of suffering, and alleviate millions of people’s symptoms.
Quite a different implementation of new technology in medicine is provided by health sector start up Open Bionics. Staggeringly, it has managed to produce the world’s first clinically tested, medically certified 3D printed bionic arm, totally changing the world of prosthetics. Called the Hero Arm, it allows people who have lost their arm to ‘grab, pinch, high-five, fist bump, thumbs-up’, allowing them to live their lives as if they had never lost a limb.
A world of infinite possibilities
There are so many stages in detecting, diagnosing and treating illnesses, and innumerable conditions, symptoms and challenges which people experience. That means there is a mind-boggling amount of health sector start ups which brilliant and innovative thinkers could conceive. Every individual has different needs, different reactions to treatment, different abilities and sometimes wildly differing levels of access to medical attention. The challenges facing medicine seem to be ever-growing, but so is technology, and humans’ capacity to think of new and life-saving ways of using it, as we can see from these astounding health sector start ups.