Healthcare can be expensive.
In 2013 US Healthcare spending was $2.7 trillion; or, almost one fifth of the country’s entire GDP. Prominent economist John Mauldin has recently written that in an average year, 60% of all personal bankruptcies in the US are as a result of overwhelming medical bills. In Australia, private health insurance premiums are set to rise by more than 6% with effect from April 1st 2015. This is a story that is being repeated in many countries around the world.
It has often been written that healthcare is the one industry where advancements in technology have resulted in higher costs for the customer, instead of lowering them. Whilst the reasons for this are complex, numerous startups are trying to reduce costs of healthcare delivery to the benefit of consumers everywhere. Here are some of our favourites:
Billed as nothing less than the future of regenerative medicine, the aim of Philadelphia based startup BioBots is to develop a low cost, high resolution, desktop 3D bioprinter that can fabricate living tissue. Their design calls for the use of blue light and ultraviolet technology to cure the biomaterial rapidly, resulting in functional 3D cells. With a number of different cell types already having been successfully printed, BioBots is a company on a mission to make bio-regeneration available to large numbers of medical scientists and physicians, with the aim of making living, artificial organs. Currently in the process of raising seed capital, BioBots is unquestionably an exciting company to watch.
Tonic is based in Palo Alto and was founded by Sterling Lanier and Boris Glants in an effort to find a better way for healthcare professionals to collect the information that they need from patients. Traditional pen-and-paper methods result in tiresome questionnaires that often go incomplete or missing, with the flow on effects of lost administrative time and patients receiving sub-optimal treatments.
By developing an iPad based data collection platform, Tonic believes that they have found a way to efficiently gather more accurate information. This means better health outcomes for patients and cost savings attributed to a reduced administrative burden and delivering the best treatment option first up. The healthcare market would appear to agree with Lanier and Glants. Tonic’s customers include some of the top hospital and healthcare networks in the US, with high profile names such as UCLA Medical Centre, Kaiser Permanente, New York Presbyterian and the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford all utilising their platform.
Since being founded in 2009, Perth based fitgenes has become one of Australia’s fastest growing healthcare startups. Through deployment of the latest advancements in cloud computing and genetic testing, fitgenes strives to make medical care more personalised. By combining complex DNA, pathology, nutritional and lifestyle data via their proprietary technology – called Pracware – fitgenes is providing healthcare professionals with the analytical tools needed to tailor individual treatment programs. Their offering has been designed for use with pathology groups and diagnostic equipment anywhere in the world, meaning that its potential for scale is enormous. With more than 350 medical clinics from all over the world currently using the fitgenes technology and network, they have a solid base from which to expand.
With innovators like these three companies tackling some of the key issues in healthcare, hopefully it won’t be too much longer until consumers start to enjoy better experiences, not just in terms of medical outcomes, but financially as well.