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Health tech startups growth will not dwindle, say experts

Health tech startups growth will not dwindle, say experts

Data-oriented health tech startups grow in strength as experts note that the recent boom is no bubble.

The number of health-focused companies that utilise data analysis techniques is not likely to decline any time soon, according to a panel of speakers from health technology companies at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Meanwhile, the surge in these startups is driving a wave of recruitment of some of the internet’s top talent.

A new market for health care tech startups emerged between 2012 and 2014, with venture funding growing a significant 200 per cent in that time, according to Fortune. The startups ranged from creating bionic prosthetics to wearable technology or apps, responding to the call of public that are sick of the current state of health care - particularly in the US.

“The [health care] system’s broken and it has to change,” said Frank Byrne, former president of St Mary’s Hospital.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that 30 per cent of what’s spent [on health care] is waste,” said Mr Byrne, now the senior executive adviser to HealthX Ventures, an investment fund for health tech startups.


Focus on intensive analytical methods

Meanwhile, many of these new health tech startups are focussing on using the intensive analytical methods and tools from other technology companies on the wealth of information and data available in the health care world. This drive towards big data in health care is seeing startups created by some of the internet’s best talent, with companies constantly searching to recruit. Prime examples of this are companies such as HeartFlow and Lyra Health.

HeartFlow recently announced the hiring of Phil Mui, a former head of Google Analytics, as chief technology officer. The startup uses 3D computer modelling on CAT scan images to diagnose heart disease, therefore bypassing the need to use invasive and costly tests.

Furthermore, former Facebook chief financial officer, David Ebersman, launched a startup last week - Lyra Health - that seeks to improve the treatment of behavioural disorders such as depression, anxiety and addiction, all through the use of data.


ACA one of key contributing factors

“In the current system, far too many patients are undiagnosed, and those who are diagnosed aren’t getting the right treatment,” said Mr Ebersman. “Depression and anxiety are very high on the list in terms of cost drivers and issues that negatively affect productivity.”

Experts in the field cite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - also known as Obamacare - as one of the key factors that is provoking a sweeping change of the health care industry.

“Everything is being re-examined in health care now and it’s all being driven by ACA,” said Mark Bakken, founder of HealthX Ventures.

“Health care is better and safer today than it was in 2010,” added Mr Byrne.

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