As technology changes, so does the future of work and the future of workers. Therefore, it’s time to be forward thinking about the future of work and future workers and how industries will change as a result of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies, robotics, and even the future of healthcare.
So for this column it’s important to examine the latest investment numbers, as well as some of the health tech trends, and explore how AI will play a role in the future of this space.
CB Insights has released its latest global healthcare report for 2019 and looking at the overall healthcare investments so far this year, the first half reveals a record in terms of both the number of deals and total dollars spent. CB Insights says the amount invested in healthcare companies globally rose to $26.9 billion during the first half of 2019, and there were 2,258 deals.
Looking further at digital health, in the second quarter alone, digital health funding was $3.5 billion, and there were 371 digital health deals. And then narrowing the scope even further and looking at AI companies in this space, healthcare AI startup companies raised $864 million in just the second quarter.
Mental health and wellness startups also generated a lot of buzz this quarter, raising $321 million across 26 deals. In May, for instance, Talkspace announced $50 million more in financing to expand its Telebehavioral health services. Talkspace connects people to mental health professionals remotely. It’s an impressive example of telehealth in that it helps lower barriers to healthcare, by removing some of the time and cost involved in seeking out and receiving care. In the future we just might see a lot more investment in the realm of telehealth.
If you listened to my radio show last week, I mentioned that Gen Z is made up of digital natives, and they’re looking for instant gratification.
This is not because they’re impatient, but because they’re used to having information and services at their fingertips. As a result, the idea is that telehealth is going to make healthcare easier to access, and it’s going to make it cheaper.
Some other trends to look for in healthcare include blockchain, telegenomics, and digital therapeutics.
Companies like Hashed Health are helping to bring blockchain solutions to the world of healthcare through solutions like signal stream. Signal stream is a multi-system data capture and reporting solution. It enables secure and confidential shared workflows and contracts in healthcare.
Hashed Health also applies blockchain technology to healthcare challenges like accurate and efficient provider data management and sharing. The company addresses this particular challenge through its professional credentials exchange solution.
It also offers bramble, a healthcare marketplace based on blockchain tech. One goal with blockchain and healthcare is to slash away at inefficiencies and ultimately reduce the cost of care.
Telegenomics is another up-and-coming area of digital health where we’re seeing a lot of investment. Telegenomics company Genome Medical announced $23 million in Series B funding this summer. The company offers a cloud-based genomic care delivery platform.
It provides on-demand access to genetic experts for virtual visits and provider-to-provider consults. It also offers genetic wellness assessments and virtual screenings for better population health management.
Another emerging space is digital therapeutics. Digital therapeutics is an emerging health discipline that uses technology to supplement or even replace drugs in disease treatment. It’s an interesting realm of digital health that could go a long way in addressing chronic disease management, among other things.
Startups in this sector are starting to crop up to address more specific health issues, and that’s just going to continue. CB Insights’ data indicates AI in healthcare funding reached a high in Q2 of 2019 with about $864 million across 75 deals.
Tempus is one AI in healthcare company that signed a $200 million funding round in May. Tempus is building a library of molecular and clinical data as well as a platform to make that data accessible and useful.
It is using advanced machine learning, sequencing, and AI-assisted image recognition to derive insights from data and help physicians make realtime, data-driven decisions based on those insights.
Another AI in healthcare startup called PathAI is developing AI technology that can help pathologists make accurate diagnoses for their patients. Pathologists have a tough job.
They’re looking really closely at organs, tissues, cells, molecules, etc., to try to uncover clues about diseases—what causes them, what effects they have on the human body, and so forth. Deep learning-based pattern recognition can go a long way here. With all these new companies AI will continue to advance pathology in great ways.
What this says is that investment in the digital health and health tech space looks healthy and steady right now, and it’s not going to let up. It’s truly amazing to see what game-changing technologies like AI can be for health and medicine, and we all want to create a better world where people can live healthier and even longer lives.
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