We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of health tech.
A neural engineering start-up, BIOS, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding to further develop a “neural interface” which combines big data and machine learning/artificial intelligence to develop cutting-edge treatments on organs and nerve systems in patients. Formerly referred to as Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems (CBAS), BIOS’ product has been likened to a “USB connector for the body”, a Prosthetic Interface Device (PID) that enables amputees to connect prostheses directly to the nervous system. This allows neural signals to be interpreted and control a connected artificial body part, though it is still subject to clinical trials. Further into the future, BIOS aims to conduct further innovative research into the ways in which AI can be used to understand the root causes of chronic conditions, with the potential to treat them without conventional medicine.
Earlier this week, ResMed, the creator of connected respiratory devices, announced that it is set to acquire digital respiratory health company Propeller Health for $225 million. This acquisition is expected to be finalised by March 2019. Propeller Health is most recognised for its smart inhalers which help patients with COPD and asthma by tracking and monitoring their conditions. The sensor technology links to the inhaler and works by sending information to an app, providing users with insights and feedback on medication use. ResMed provides cloud-connected ventilators for patients with similar conditions. This acquisition will combine two prominent companies in the digital health respiratory space. As ResMed CEO Mick Farrell stated, the deal will help us to “positively impact the lives of even more of the 380 million people worldwide who are living with this debilitating chronic disease.”
This week the most lauded feature of the Apple Watch, the electrocardiogram (ECG), went live as part of the watchOS 5.1.2 update. This important feature will help establish the device as a more serious health monitor. Once enabled, the feature is capable of monitoring heart health, including irregular heart rhythms and ECG testing. The ECG feature was tested in clinical trials, demonstrating 98.3% sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6% specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. The feature’s ability to monitor the heart could isolate information and alert the user to potential complications before they turn into major issues.
Thirteen trusts are set to receive £78m in funding to support the expansion of electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, and medicine administration in the NHS. The funds are due to be split between acute, mental health and community trusts in the UK. E-prescribing is deemed crucial for improving patient safety by reducing medication errors in medical staff’s handwritten notes – this currently accounts for between 4 and 5 patient deaths each day. The Department of Health and Social Care suggests that e-prescribing and administration (ePMA) systems could cut medication errors by up to 50% and result in more comprehensive patient record systems. As Health minister, Stephen Hammond stated, this is “part of the long-term plan for the NHS, we not only want to harness technology to make it one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, but crucially to improve patient care.”
Interesting reads for the weekend:
- The forgotten epidemic: Your doctor’s mental health is being swept under the carpet
- Sleep-tracking ring Oura surpasses $20 million in funding
- Apple patents interchangeable AirPods with health tracking features
- Alto’s digital pharmacy, prescription delivery services closes $50M round
- AI product ‘DeepRay’ developed to help see clearer images
- Biosensors developed to detect whether cancer is likely to spread
- 3D Printing Beats Traditional Screen Printing in Biosensor for Diabetics
- Wireless solar radiation sensors may improve skin treatments