We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
An incredible development in the UK this week, as two unborn babies were the first ever in the region to have their spines repaired by surgeons prior to their births. The surgery was carried out by a team of 30 doctors at University College Hospital in London on two babies with spina bifida, a birth defect where the spine and spinal cord of a baby has not developed properly in the womb, resulting in a gap in the spine. The operation involved cutting an opening in the womb and then stitching together the gap in the spine, taking an hour and a half to complete. This is a significant step forwards, as doctors are not only now able to treat spina bifida at the earliest stage, helping a child’s long-term health, but it also means mothers no longer need to travel to the US, Belgium or Switzerland for the operation.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the government’s borrowing requirements over the next four years could be significantly lower than initially forecast. This leaves the Treasury with an unexpected windfall in next week’s budget. The news comes following the Treasury being tasked with finding new ways to significantly increase NHS spending. If this comes off, it could potentially allow the Treasury to do this, without having to raise taxes. It appears we should thank the World Cup and high summer temperatures for this – contributing towards stronger than forecast government receipts, as reported by the Office for National Statistics.
Massachusetts based healthcare company, Devoted Health, successfully raised $300 million in a Series B round of funding this week from lead investor Andreessen Horowitz. The company, which helps Medicare beneficiaries access care through its network of physicians and tech-enabled healthcare platform, strives to build a health care plan that treats every member like they were one of their own family. Having previously raised $69 million across two financing rounds last year, Devoted Health is now enrolling seniors located in Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk and Seminole counties, and is reported to begin providing care at the beginning of January next year.
It’s been a big week for AI developments in the healthcare sector, as it was reported an algorithm analysing CT scans can now diagnose a deadly lung disease as accurately as international specialists, according to early trials. The algorithm scans and determines whether patients have what is called, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a type of fibrotic lung disease that is responsible for killing as many people in Britain as breast cancer every year. Artificial intelligence was applied by Simon Walsh, a consultant radiologist at King’s College Hospital, and according to results published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the algorithm provided the same level of performance as 91 world-leading specialists, in 150 cases. If further tests are successful, there is potential for this to be introduced in the NHS and could contribute towards more early diagnosis’. With a shortage of specialist radiologists in the UK, this technology will be invaluable.
US company, Future Family recently raised $10 million in a Series A round of funding, helping bolster their ability to improve access to fertility treatments. For this healthcare services platform, these additions funds will go towards expanding their subscription-based model. This model aims to make costs towards fertility treatment and services such as IVF, more manageable. Users do not need to have the funds ready up front, but can instead stagger the cost in manageable portions. Subscriptions range from $195 a month pairing users with a clinic and concierge, and go up to $250 a month helping cover medication, clinic visits, IVF procedures and lab work.
Interesting reads for the weekend:
- Forget animal testing. These minitature, lab-grown human hearts are making drugs safer
- UK health minister sets out tech-first vision for future care provision
- Will folic acid ever be added to UK flour?
- Blood pressure drugs linked to raised risk of lung cancer
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s behind one in eight deaths
- Diabetes: a ‘ticking time bomb’ for the NHS
- The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care