Healthcare is a hot button issue these days, but not just in the states. While the U.S. works on hammering out defects in the Affordable Care Act, other countries such as Mexico and South Africa are also working on a better universal healthcare system. It’s a crucial aspect to everyone’s life, but whenever a fix arises there seems to be another can of worms opened with new, unforeseen issues.
Case in point, small businesses who are finding it difficult to provide healthcare to their employees without bankrupting their business.
It seems that someone always ends up with the short end of the stick, unfortunately. What if there were a way to stop passing the stick around, though? Could startup healthcare companies be the solution to decade’s worth of failed reforms?
It’s Time for Something New
In countries like Australia, where almost one tenth of the GDP is spent on healthcare, local opportunities for evolution and innovation are at an all time high. Startups in the medical sector are now forming across the globe, and they just might be the change we all need for a brighter, healthier future.
Much like Jingdong has taken on Alibaba in China, or how Square has changed the way small businesses can accept credit card payments, groups across the world are working to take on the issues modern day healthcare faces.
What Groups Are Out There?
Right now, the key groups to keep an eye on are:
FoundationOne, who is developing a genomic test that analyses DNA mutations in tumors.
Impact, a company working on a mobile app that uses neurocognitive assessment tools that can diagnose a concussion in real-time.
Ekso Bionics, who are developing robotic exoskeletons which will allow paralysed patients to walk.
Reflexion Health: This startup is using Kinect software (from Microsoft’s Xbox) to monitor at-home physical therapy patients and offer real-time support.
Can these startups actually make a difference? Look at the success of the SONNY movement and assessment platform, which was awarded first place at The Launch! Session during Health 2.0 in 2014. It helps children with brain injuries and movement disorders develop the best rehabilitation program for their needs based of gesture control and cloud gaming platforms.
What makes these startups so promising is that instead of trying to fix the entire healthcare system, they focus their efforts on solving one specific problem or issue. As more succeed, others will pick up the torch and work in differing areas.
New, Promising Changes
The success of startups like SONNY have spurred a great deal of interest in creating new groups. The Beijing Genomics Institute, for instance, invested in new state-of-the-art genome-sequencing software. Inviting the brightest minds from across the glove to collaborate and unlock the genetic code of humans, plants, and animals, who knows what they might uncover.
Partners Healthcare is another startup focused on genomic research, investing a whopping $1 billion every year into cure discoveries, genetics, and information technology. It isn’t just about DNA, though. Several startups are changing the face of user interaction with their healthcare providers.
Medisafe is one such group, who has created a cloud-synced database app that alerts family and friends if a loved one has not taken their prescribed medication. This technology alone has increased prescription compliance by 26% among those with type 2 diabetes.
SwiftPayMD has created software for Apple that allows physicians and doctors to voice record diagnoses, freeing their hands and attention up to give patients the best care possible. RightCare Solutions has even created a software platform that allows healthcare personnel to pinpoint high-risk patients and give them the post-acute care they might need.
All of this technology already exists, and while it might be small change at first, the implications and practical uses show great promise for a brighter future.
Finally, Healthcare to Look Forward To
Recent technology advances have also allowed startups to provide crucial devices in premier patient care. Take the concept of FaceTime, for instance, then apply that to the medical field. Doctors can now monitor and perform simple tests on elderly, disabled, and distant patients using connected devices and Telehealth technology without the patient ever having to leave their home.
The realm of 3D printing is being used to make better prosthetics that won’t cost patients a fortune, while other companies are working on developing robotic solutions to disease prevention and complex surgery.
Researchers are also working on a pair of “smart glasses” that magnify and enhance sight. Give Vision is the startup behind this research, founded on the idea of making the world more accessible to the blind. Partnering with Bio-Retina, creators of the artificial retina, these glasses hold the potential to fix degenerative eye diseases and allow others to truly see the world for the first time.
Startups are the Future
Focusing on specific problems, startups offer the healthcare industry valuable tools and devices aimed to improve patient’s everyday lives. When backed by federal funding, countries working to reform their current healthcare system can effectively see progress in the treatments of their citizens as well as find more affordable solutions, which benefits everyone involved.
Keep your eyes open this next decade, major changes are coming not your just your way, but all across the globe. Who knows, the idea of affordable healthcare may not be as far away as we think.