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Health Tech Weekly Round Up: 14 December

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

Sleep device reaches $20m in investment round

Oura Health, a Finnish based company who have developed a device to track sleep patterns and activity, announced it has exceeded more than $20 million in funding. Led by MSD Capital, funding was supported by a number of tech founders alongside athletes and celebrities. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, former basketball star Shaquille O’Neil and Actor Will Smith are just some of the notable investors. The Oura ring is capable of many functions which can record data on the wearer’s physical health during sleep or activity. These include body temperature, blood volume pulse, accelerometer and movement via gyroscope. The ring was brought to the limelight recently when Prince Harry wore it during a royal tour.

Proton beam cancer treatment starting at Christie hospital this month

NHS Manchester’s cancer specialist hospital, The Christie has seen the construction of the Proton Beam Therapy Centre. The pioneering cancer treatment will be used for the first time to treat a patient before Christmas. The NHS currently sends patients who require the therapy to specialist clinics abroad in the US or Germany. This new method will be able to target tumours more precisely then current methods, via a high-energy proton beam aimed directly at the tumour. This method of treatment has fewer side effects in comparison to high-energy X-ray treatment. It is therefore more appropriate for children who are at increased risk of suffering from lasting damage to organs from more conventional methods.

Allscripts to net $525M after selling off Netsmart stake

Allscripts, the electronic health record (EHR) vendor announced on Monday its agreements to sell its ownership stake in Netsmart Technologies. Netsmart Technologies, a behavioural health EHR company was purchased in 2016 for $52.7 million by Allscripts and is now being sold for $525 million to private equity firms, TA Associates and GI partners. “Netsmart provides the scale and the depth and breadth of solutions required to navigate the significant opportunities in the post-acute care market, and we are thrilled with how the business has performed over the last two years,” Allscripts President Rick Poulton said in a statement. “We believe now is the right time to recognize the significant value we have created by monetizing our investment and improving our balance sheet.”

NHS told to ditch ‘absurd’ fax machines

It was only a couple weeks ago we reported that many trusts in the NHS were still depending on the archaic technology of a fax machine to communicate between each other, following a report from the Royal College of Surgeons. This week sees the Department of Health demand NHS update to more modern methods of communication in order to improve patient safety and cyber security. The Government has banned the NHS from buying any further fax machines and must phase out the machines entirely by 31st March 2020. The report from the RCS revealed that there are almost 9,000 fax machines in use across the NHS in England, with the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS trust still employing 603 machines.

Amazon’s new machine learning tool to decode unstructured medical data

Amazon’s branch of healthcare, Amazon Comprehend Medical, has launched a new machine learning platform which is capable of extracting relevant medical data from unstructured text. Health and patient data is mainly stored in this format, which can be laborious and time-consuming to process. However, this new health technology will be able to process clinical notes, prescriptions and audio tapes and then identify the relevant clinical information buried within them. Amazon’s Anish Kejariwal, company director of software engineering for information solutions said, “Amazon Comprehend Medical provides the functionality to help us with quickly extracting and structuring information from medical documents, so that we can build a comprehensive, longitudinal view of patients, and enable both decision support and population analytics.”

Interesting reads for the weekend: