3 health care startups to keep an eye on this year
By Christopher Wolfington
Tech startups have become very common in today’s business world. Health care startups utilizing tech in interesting ways have been part of the startup wave. Here are three health care startups to keep an eye on in 2018.
Even though we are accustomed to sleek and efficient technology both large and small, the breast pump has stubbornly refused to evolve with the times. Most are loud, inconvenient, heavy devices that are functional but borderline dehumanizing.
The creators of Willow, however, knew this and decided to do something about it. Its pump won multiple awards at the 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show because it is radically different and makes concrete improvements. Unlike other pumps, it can be worn and used in public with full clothing, is fully portable, and is quiet. It’s also a smart device that changes suction as it detects milk production and connects wirelessly with an integrated smartphone app.
While it is expensive, demand for a convenient pumping experience may amplify Willow’s reach and force innovation from other companies.
Doctors can be expensive to visit and self-diagnosis via a website like WebMD can be a harrowing and sometimes terrifying experience. But diagnosing an illness from a set of symptoms is a relatively straightforward thing to do—it just requires an awful lot of knowledge about a wide variety of medical information.
That’s where Babylon Health comes in. The London-based startup’s artificial intelligence utilizes a similar question pathway to real life doctors to diagnose health conditions, and it is surprisingly effective. According to founder Ali Parsa, the Babylon Health AI passed the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) exam with an 81% in its first try, 9% higher than the average score mark for living and breathing doctors.
While Babylon Health has yet to expand outside of the United Kingdom, they are gathering funds to do so, and their already impressive AI has immense potential.
Preventing pregnancies and making pregnancy possible are big businesses and have lots of personal utility. But Modern Fertility co-founder Afton Vechery points out something very important: “We focus on preventing pregnancy, and then it’s a black box of trying to get pregnant, and there’s virtually nothing in between.”
What Vechery means is that fertility is never a proactive part of the process, instead being reactive: you don’t care until it doesn’t work. What Modern Fertility is trying to achieve is encouraging fertility questions to be a natural part of the process. The company sells a test that can be mailed directly to consumers’ homes. This experience tests varying components of fertility, including hormones, egg count, irregularity, IVF prospects, among other factors.
Vechery says that fertility tests should be “as routine as a pap smear,” and Modern Fertility has a lot of opportunity for making that ideal a reality. The company recently raised $6 million in a seed round, and has received $7 million in funding in less than a year.
Those are just 3 of the tech startups to watch for in the health sector in 2018. Who knows what might be in the works next?