Industry looks to address issues before they become problems
Late last year, UK health secretary Matt Hancock claimed that the country spends £97bn of public money on treating disease, compared with £8bn on preventing it. Fortunately, preventative healthcare is seeing renewed interest and investment. Hancock has released a green paper that aligns with the preventative mentality of genomics by aiming to sequence five million genomes over the next five years.
According to RedSeer, the preventative healthcare market was worth $55bn in 2018. By 2022, however, this is expected to rise to $100bn. Here are a handful of the companies who are enabling the adoption of preventative healthcare techniques, and changing healthcare methodology for the better.
1) Myriad Women’s Health
Founded in 2018, Myriad Women’s Health uses advanced genetic screening and testing to empower women to make healthcare decisions. The company has a range of products including the Foresight Carrier Screen which identifies couples who are likely to pass down hereditary diseases, and a focused Hereditary Cancer test with an analytical sensitivity of over 99 per cent. Genetic screening is one of the most effective forms of preventative healthcare, flagging up conditions even before they develop. With this information, patients can make lifestyle changes or seek preventative treatments to reduce their chance of illness. Myriad Women’s Health is also an example of FemTech, the movement that aims to give women more control over their health.
People who are elderly, mentally ill, or who have a physical disability are more likely to get ill due to weaker immune systems and the reduced ability to self medicate effectively. Their higher risk rate means that carers have to be particularly attentive and make clear, accurate records of their visits. Cera aims to make healthcare more digital and efficient, firstly by digitising records via an app. Secondly, through Cera’s CeraFlex model, those in need of care receive regular visits from carers and can also request one when needed. Cera’s approach is to ‘check up’ on those who need assistance rather than watch them constantly, which is expensive and often unnecessary. Cera aims to make sure that people at particularly high risk of illness have adequate care to avoid more serious issues.
CarenGrow was founded in response to worrying statistics, one of which being the ratio of children to paediatricians in India: 3000:1. The startup believes that an understanding of personal health should begin as early as possible, which is why it has set up a cloud based app for preventative screening in schools. The screenings are carried out using questionnaires, health report cards, biomedical sensing, and imaging technologies. CarenGrow is supported by Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext programme and aims to deliver an operational in school system across the Indian education system.
Sometimes, avoiding illness is as simple as getting your forty winks. Getting a good night’s rest is essential for optimal health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep is cited as a cause of stress, obesity, high blood pressure, weakened immunity, and even serious mental illness. Despite this, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that one third of American adults don’t spend enough time in the land of nod. In an attempt to remedy this, Israeli startup Sleeprate has developed a smart mobile platform to monitor users’ sleeping patterns and quality.
A better known pioneer of preventative healthcare solutions is Apple – but you could swap the tech giant for many of the other leading wearable manufacturers. Wearables have empowered people to chart their own healthcare journeys and catch potential problems at an early stage. We’ve chosen Apple in particular because the Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a nifty inbuilt ECG capability. The smartwatch’s ECG app continually measures heart rate, alerting the wearer if it is too high or too low.
Preventative healthcare is a definitive movement in the healthcare industry, merging legacy approaches with innovative technology to predict rather than respond. Thanks to apps, wearables, and as a service solutions, preventative healthcare isn’t confined to professionals. Preventing ill health requires reliable data, real time information, highly connected platforms, and consumer engagement… Exactly what digitalisation offers. The UK’s ‘Prevention is better than cure’ green paper represents an ambitious plan to turn the well known aphorism into a call for action. Let’s hope the bug spreads.
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