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Health Tech Weekly Round Up: 4 January

We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of health tech. 

Child health record ‘red book’ to go online 

It was announced this week that the “red book”, also known as the personal child health record, is to be made available to parents online. The book is used for tracking a child’s health from birth through infancy. This move is one part of the government’s plan to improve NHS care for mothers and their new-borns in a bid to reduce maternal and infant deaths, as well serious injuries. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it would be digitalised “to keep pace with the times” and make life easier for parents and the NHS. The measures are being introduced to make maternity care safer while cutting stillbirths and infant deaths. There are also plans to digitise women’s maternity records, starting with a pilot by the end of 2019.  

AI powered nutrition app launched in UK 

Machines to help us eat… A nutrition application powered by artificial intelligence (AI) has been launched in the UK to help people improve their diets. The app known as Foodvisor works through the user taking a photo of their plate, the app then analyses the meal and provides a nutritional report along with personal coaching.  

Foodvisor makes use of its proprietary AI algorithms, which allows it to identify over 1,000 different food items, estimate portion sizes and then process it all to provide a nutritional report. Charles Boes, CEO of Foodvisor, said, “Our unique technology and the advice of our dieticians have already helped 1 million people to eat better. We want to help more people eat better and live healthier, that’s why we are expanding to the UK where nutrition apps are very popular but they all require manual logging.” 

Alphabet’s Verily raises $1 billion to make health care smarter 

Health data technology company Verily, a subsidiary of Google, announced it has secured $1 billion. The financing was led by Silver Lake with further funding coming from Ontario Teachers’ Plan alongside other global investment management firms. CEO of Verily, Andrew Conrad said the funding will be used to “support growth in key strategic areas, including investments in strategic partnerships, business development opportunities, and potential acquisitions.” 

The big projects that Verily tackled in 2018 related to the detection of sleep apnea, pharmaceutical drug discovery using AI, blood collection and health insurance. Verily has partnered organisations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Walgreens, Dexcom, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and the U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Wearable medical tech is about to become crucial to daily life 

With the topic of wearable health technology continuously in the news, it is not hard to understand the pivotal role they will to play in the future of healthcare. Wearables are increasingly replacing traditional treatments – 2019 is expected to be another important year for the development and adoption of this technology. Conventional medical treatment consists of drugs and therapies. However, an emerging third option is on-body, digital devices which can treat both mental and physical ailments. 

It is becoming common practice to see wearable fitness devices along with mobile apps routinely being used in preventative health, experts believe 2019 will see wearable technology expand into the field of therapeutic intervention. One example of this, the Emma device, developed by Haiyan Zhang at Microsoft, is a wristband that makes use of noisy vibrations to stimulate the hand of Parkinson’s patient experiencing tremors. These vibrations will aid in restoring some precise motor movements for patients. 


Interesting Reads for the Weekend:

UK scientists test breathalyser for detecting early cancers 

Cloud Monitors Heart Implants 

Printed Graphene technology could revolutionise wearable electronics 

Doctors tell parents to cut children’s screen time 

Depression in girls linked to higher use of social media 

Hancock pledges to shake-up GP IT systems with new framework