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Health Tech Weekly Round Up: 29 March

Hotwire Global

In this week’s round up, find out how drones can be used to speed up the processing of blood samples. Researchers have developed programming to observe 3D images of a baby’s heart and Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England, says investors need to start investing ethically. In the US, health insurer Centene acquires rival Wellcare, whilst in France the start-up Doctolib joins the unicorn crowd with a funding round of $171 million.


Hospital using drones to fly blood samples between buildings

Drones have received negative press recently, however in Raleigh, North Carolina, they are being used in a pioneering way and making a positive impact. The WakeMed program uses drones to transport blood samples across a hospital campus. Vials of blood are put into a secure box, carried to a drone launching pad and then attached to the aircraft to be flown to another building, reducing the time it takes to transport time-sensitive samples.

Groundbreaking images of unborn baby in womb

3D images of a baby’s heart whilst still in the womb have been created by scientists at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust. The 3D images provide doctors insight into abnormalities and could be revolutionary in treating congenital diseases before birth. Professor Reza Razavi, consultant paediatric cardiologist explains, “Application of this novel computing technology has enabled for the first time MRI scanning to really help with clarifying the diagnosis in a subgroup of babies, particularly when the vessels around the heart are involved.”

Health insurer Centene to buy smaller rival WellCare for $15.27 billion

This week Centene, a U.S. health insurer confirmed it will purchase WellCare Health Plans in a cash-and-stock deal, to support its government backed health-care business. The deal is reported to be valued at $15.27 billion. With the purchase of WellCare, Centene will be better equipped to compete with other large rivals such as UnitedHealth and CVS Health.

Healthtech start-up Doctolib joins the unicorn herd

Doctolib, a Paris-based start-up, has become a unicorn following its latest round of funding. It is the second European billion-dollar business of the year but continues to grow.  The company, which was founded in 2013 has raised approximately $171 million in funding, in one of the largest VC rounds by a French business. Doctolib connects patients and healthcare professionals by providing online medical appointment management services, digital prescriptions and more recently, remote video consultations.

Ethical investments could help in fight against superbugs, says Chief Medical Officer

The Chief Medical Officer of England, Dame Sally Davies, has said ethical investing could be key to tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Investors are being encouraged to halt the investing of food chains which misuse antibiotics. Instead, Dame Sally Davies believes, “Investors should not be investing in companies in the food chain that misuse antibiotics. They should be investing for corporate social responsibility in antibiotic-making companies and vaccine-making companies”.

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