Would It Really Be the End of 2021 Without a Healthtech Trends Wrap?
The 12 Trends of Healthmas (ok, 14... cause who doesn't like a little extra?)
Today’s piece is brought to you with the legends from:
What better way to end the year than with a celebration?
Last week I got a bit fancy IRL at the MedTech Actuator Gala Showcase with 149 other industry legends to celebrate their latest cohorts of startups, entrepreneurs and scholars. Ft. 14 pitches from an array of companies you can find here.
The actuator runs programs for and funds startups, innovators and aspiring change-makers of all stages. Want to know more?
So, based on this inspiring crew
I’ve pulled together a few top APAC trends to close out the year…
But first… if you’re new here and want to receive the latest rants, bants and random opps in Aussie Health Innovation - hit subscribe to join our motley crew of healthtech enthusiasts 😊 💪
1) Consumerisation 💴
How many times have you struggled to find the right services? Waited >6 months for an appointment? Lost forms? Chased records?
Thankfully, players are shaking up these maddening processes - Crafting convenient, often cheaper, enhanced experiences… and, handing people control.
Eucalyptus’s house of brands continues to expand - on its base built for consumer-centric scalable services making experiences simply easy & enjoyable (as much as it can be) for consumers and professionals. Mosh’s growth of their men’s healthcare group is going so well it’s looking to IPO. Polln is one of many now bringing natural therapeutics to the people.
“On-demand” is hitting hard, with endless chemist delivery companies that sprouted up such as Chemist2u.
Looking to the US, Amazon, amongst hundreds of others are ramping up at a rapid rate - adding every imaginable facet from fitness, to diagnostics & pharmacy.
Retail Rains and Hybrid Care
Its obvious care can’t only be virtual. In the US we’re seeing lots of retail outlets form health centres create hybrids models. How long until we see these blended centres in Aus? And/or marriages of pre-existing parts to create more comprehensive care services?
There’s a long way to go - but this is a great start
2) Personalisation 💎
Medicine’s one size fits all approach has left many longing for more.
The future is tailored, and we’re starting to make room for the endless shades of grey - Physiologically and digitally.
Guns leading the way include Drop Bio helping people understand their health through personalised testing. Nutromics’s (Actuator Alumni) continuous molecular monitoring will be used to make sure drugs are dosed correctly and deliver earlier, accurate insights - to create better outcomes at lower costs. Advances like Deep Genomics means that tailored drug prescriptions will soon be a reality.
Orgs like Sahha are using personal data, like the use of social media and habits (ft. consent of course) to analyse and provide personal insights into wellbeing.
Whilst programs with behavioural hooks like Perx Health, are making headway using behavioural science for better management of chronic conditions.
3) Patient Empowerment 💪
How do we save dollars, resources and create better health outcomes?
Empower people to actually take care of themselves.
Healthcare systems are paternalistic - with patients usually having very little choice or information.“Patient driven” care has been preached, but not truly practised.
But that’s changing. Providing people with information, education, and support is enabling actual understanding and improving self-management. Like with Normal’s “Modern guide to Sex” & Drop Bio’s educational content and community for women.
Vysum (who took out the showcase J&J award) are creating a medication delivery device for glaucoma patients to improve easy and accurate delivery of medication - including a tracking app to enabling patients to track, understand and comply with treatment.
Mindset Health’s digital hypnotherapy programs ft. fab content enable people to and improve their health, without drugs or diets for IBS and menopause. And Amelio Health & Curable give people the knowledge and support to tackle chronic pain.
4) Creative Solutions for Compliance is Cool ✅
Finding what’s wrong and prescribing solutions is one thing… but getting people to actually engage and do what’s needed is a whole other game.
Compliance has always been a big problem, adding strain and stress to all sides of the system. But with great problems come great opportunities.
9/10 people who quit smoking return. But, Quitta is creating a unique inhaler device to help support a more sustainable and sustained way of quitting.
Aeolus is designing a new discreet device for sleep apnea to increase compliance through usability and empowerment. Perx even began purely as a compliance program for medication.
5) Health @ Home - The Accessibility Revolution 🏡
Convenience is king - but it’s also often better for costs, comfort and outcomes.
Remote monitoring is at the forefront of people’s minds with COVID and limited hospital capacities. And virtual health monitoring solutions are emerging everywhere
MSK and rehab at home is a trillion-dollar opportunity. And can change the game. XCLR8 Technologies is enabling remote physio using sensors and IoT tech to increase convenience, recovery speed and reduce costs for physical therapy.
Fitness is broadening its market too, with players like Peloton moving into strength training, wearables, AI feedback & instructors.
On the therapy side - Apps and virtual programs are actually changing lives; providing access to those with financial or geographic limitations. Spokle is bringing comprehensive and engaging speech therapy programs to families in accessible and affordable ways. Reducing wait times and costs.
Wearables - Techs Wonderchild 🥇
The obsession of the tech elite and fitness fanatics globally - wearables have well and truly become more than step counts and competitions.
Now flowing into pretty much every area of health. We all have phones and trackers - so it makes sense that the companies who we already trust take the lead here and integrate more. If/when they integrate it into communities and web3 - we'll be in for a real party.
On the DL - Fitbit’s launching a new project out of Google Sydney 😉
6) Medical Metaverse 🎮
The Metaverse put simply is “The integration of the offline and online worlds into one continuous stream” - Gaby Goldberg
It’s hyped as high as Tesla’s stock price and it’s going to turn many businesses and industries on their heads. Including medicine…
Have you seen Zucks AR Ray-Ban glasses? Or the failed Google Glass?
Well, Moon Technologies (who took out the Actuator prize) is bringing these visions to life in medicine - via Augmented Reality glasses to help ambos avoid medical errors in real-time. Bundling together eye-tracking tech, access to health data, telehealth and clinician access. They already have contracts in Singapore and looks like Japan might be the next.
VR is V Popular
With funding and traction in clinical spaces. Virtetic is creating immersive experiences and game-based virtual reality therapies for people with limb loss. While Vantari VR is helping doctors, nurses and students practice procedures and clinical situations without the real-life repercussions - helping reduce medical errors.
It seems every therapeutic is integrating it with “behavioural change”, as it’s shown great engagement & therapeutic outcomes for patients. This will no doubt continue - and likely snowball into every facet of health.
It’s useful for medical professionals too.
By making things easier, more patient-centred and fun - we increase the chance of engagement, compliance, and healthcare actually working.
7) Genetics, Genomics & Proteomics 🧬
This group are a pretty big deal. Providing the opportunity to literally rebuild the face of health through life’s building blocks - proteins and DNA.
Definitions … Courtesy of Wikipedia
Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes (ie DNA).
Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins the vital parts of living organisms. The proteome is the entire set of proteins produced or modified by an organism or system.
GenembryoMics is providing genome sequencing of embryos for the full spectrum of genetic diseases before pregnancy to help address infertility and prevent disease.
Eugene just bagged $3.2m to scale their complete genetic testing and digital health solutions globally.
And Mass Dynamics is bringing mass spectrometry focused on proteomics to the masses via a SaaS service to speed up and optimise discoveries, and drug development in life sciences.
We’re sure to see heaps more in and big wins focused in this area
8) Biotech Baby … “Bio eats world” 🦠
Biotech and life sciences are booming with billions invested in the markets in Aus this year.
“SynBio” also known as longevity or antiaging - had a rebrand and is also on the rise with $hitload of cash funneling in from billionaires likes Bezos
It’s a big bucket, looking at the prevention, alteration and treatment of disease from the molecular level. Given Aus’s world-leading research and pharma presence - hopefully, this can continue to be an area of strength for us.
BiomeBank is a world leader based in Adelaide on the mission to prevent disease by replenishing gut microbial ecology using biotech drugs.
9) Solutions for “Specific” Segments
It’s outrageous, but large chunks of society have been largely ignored - now, we’re finally seeing tailored solutions emerging for different groups & demographics.
Also - there’s finally the much-needed investment, supports and spotlights on neglected groups such as the Disability Sector (Remarkables N+ global inclusive innovation network, T-shirt ventures, Hire up & Mable) and Femtech (ft. work of groups like the Femtech Collective).
10) Holistic Health is Heating Up 🌱
Things often can’t be fixed by a procedure or pill. Nor should they.
Despite being largely rejected by “western medicine” for many years, holistic and natural therapeutics are making a comeback. Vively is providing personalised holistic healthcare programs for chronic illness ft on tap support services and input from physios, nutritionists and naturopaths.
Newbie Freda is using nutrients and food to help enhance mental health.
Social Prescribing is also on the rise, taking things back to basics. It’s been big in the UK for quite a while, but it seems we’re finally starting to catch on with Linkmate & Voice of Health both emerging as mental well-being players.
11) Improving Prehistoric Processes 🦴
Many things in health have been hacked together or “always been that way” - but there’s great moves to improve these outdated ways of working.
From basic workflows to much-needed software and devices.
Gild is building an integrated payments solution that means you don’t have to fork out the hefty amount upfront at appointments, and instead streamlines it so you can just pay the gap - enabling more patients to access care without the financial strain.
Sapyen is on a mission to rewrite the narrative around fertility - empowering men by making clinically validated fertility testing accessible through at-home testing.
Surgical devices are stepping up to reduce costs, complications and hospital stays with everything from improving surgical drainage collection (Yabi medical), to robotic surgeries, and new orthopedic devices (OsteoX).
Diagnostics are getting upgrades too. Hatisens is making it possible to diagnose heart attacks within minutes through a highly sensitive handheld device - detecting even microlevels of troponin at the point of care. Making life much easier and preventing misdiagnosis.
12) Putting Professionals First 👩⚕️
Health professionals have a hell of a job - yet many products and “innovations” actually makes things harder. By adding products and software which actually helps, not hinders, it should improve outcomes and experience for patients and professionals.
Telecare’s new virtual clinics have created streamlined software and services for patients and professionals - making clinical processes much easier and providing fast, easy access to specialists with less of a cost.
Talent Marketplaces like uPaged makes getting top nurses and filling shift work a breeze. And hopefully, we’ll see this move into other workstreams too.
Whilst #axethefax is mounting momentum from companies like Consultmed on the mission to eliminate fax machines and messy paper referrals.
13) Data - It’s a Mess 💽
It should and could be used to enhance everything - but the state of health care data leaves much to be desired.
Underutilised, poorly captured, siloed or not useful. Not to mention many hospitals don’t even have an EMR yet.
Interoperability is the most used word this year. But as the tech giants found, it’s no easy feat. Yet - we appear to be making headway. And getting the baseline infrastructure needed to then build upon.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all making strong health plays in APAC.
Startups like Prospection are using datasets to generate actionable insights to support clinical decisions at all levels. And Beamtree does everything from insights, to AI tools & global data collaboratives.
14) AI… 🤖
Because it would be blasphemy not to include it
It’s the tech that just keeps on… getting investment. And given the decision tree nature of many processes in health, it appears to be a perfect fit.
Since Feb we’ve seen leaps and bounds in Aussie companies, with Harrison.ai rapidly expanding and launching their new product for CXRs beating out big guns like google. Presagen and Life Whisperer continues to grow. Oscer emerged from the shadows getting backing from Blackbird, to create AI-based medical training and medical error catchment systems for clinicians.
The technology and business models aren’t quite there… yet. Demonstrated by the hundreds of unusable models made for covid identification and screening.
But when it works, it will be wicked.
The Aussie Opportunity, Obstacles and Future
Well, the funding certainly has been flowing, and Australia’s Healthtech Scene has been growing.
We’re still a little behind… But, it seems we might be turning over a new leaf. With the gov getting onboard, more hospital adoption, and fab players, programs and funds entering the game. Vic alone is home to more than 300 MedTech companies and start-ups and the gov is investing in it heavily.
There’s still a long way to go. And all good things take time….
But there’s never been a better time to get into health innovation.
TL;DR - Australia has a darn big opportunity
Innovation is unavoidable but if we want to lead the way, we need to continue to step up our game with more programs, pathways, and visibility in the space. To pull in our best and brightest, and actually commercialise our abundant research.
Or, we’ll continue to be the laggards - and let the overseas markets set the terms and see the commercial returns. So, let’s go Australia. If you don’t use it, you lose it 😉
Know someone who might like to get involved or learn more about MedTech & Health innovation? Flick this their way!
Now there is a whole lot more I’m sure I’ve missed. Anything notable? Things you like? Dislike? Disagree?
Drop a comment below or hit reply and let me know!
Until next time
Together with The Medtech Actuator