HealthTech – Saving Lives But Killing The Health Service?

This startup illustrates why the NHS problem will only ever get worse

The NHS seems to have every problem known to mankind, budgets, beds, ageing populations and ever more expensive (and effective) drugs.

What’s compounding the whole issue is that the world is getting even better at discovery. . . finding diseases in the early stage is a massive market opportunity for this vast industry. So it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for the NHS – the earlier you discover a problem the more money you have to throw at it throughout the lifetime of that problem. Obviously good news, but not for the NHS which has to find the resources to treat the problem much earlier than ever before.

Here’s a startup that’s a classic example. GRAIL has just raised a $900m finance round (that’s not a typo – $900 million) to bring to market its very early stage cancer detection technology which has the promise to catch all cancers before they turn into killers. This is obviously good news except for the economics that don’t stack up – the more people you find with cancer in the early stage the more people you have to treat. Even 3 years ago the number of deaths from cancers discovered too late was prodigious – with new tech from GRAIL we can preempt this problem at the cost of paying GRAIL for the discovery and providing treatment – fewer people will die but the NHS becomes more of a bottomless pit for money.