Hosted by the UK-based Healthcare Startup Society, the conference and awards ceremony on December 17th brought together nearly 200 participants, including some big name medtech innovators and startups, along with tech experts, VCs, students, and “doctorpreneurs.” Attendees had traveled to the conference from as far as Silicon Valley, and while the December weather in London could never rival California, the fantastic venue in Kensington did boast resident flamingos!
Guest speakers covered an impressive array of medtech subjects throughout the day. The issue of funding, from both sides of the table, was examined with talks by the teams behind crowd source platform Crowdcube and surgical simulator company Touch Surgery.
The importance of a great team, and then how to go about building it, was emphasized by the co-founders of Doctify. Some of the challenges and rewards of innovation as a clinician within the healthcare sector were presented by Harry Thirkettle from the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur program. While the team behind smartphone-based digital otoscope, Cupris, explained what it takes to bring a device from an idea to the clinic.
Special guest Shafi Ahmed explained the motivation behind his recent performance of the world’s first VR live-streamed surgery and the power of technology to help train thousands of surgeons worldwide at low cost and in increasingly remote areas.
The audience was challenged to think big by the Healthcare Startup Society’s founder, Alex Young, while the Linguisticator team took the idea of abstract learning and medical education to a whole new level with VR mind palaces. Bringing start-up wisdom from outside of the healthcare space, the co-founder of Propercorn spoke about ensuring that all you do is “done properly” and the importance of sharing your story with customers and users.
In spite of the perpetual London fog, the informal atmosphere sparked lively discussion and networking opportunities between attendees from different disciplines and continents. The conference culminated in the presentation of the Healthcare Startup Society award winners, including:
Device of the Year
SightPlus from Givevision – SightPlus is an innovative system that couples a smartphone with a VR-like headset and helps restore vision for those with sight problems. SightPlus allows users to adjust the focus, color, contrast, brightness, and magnification of the world around them—making reading, watching TV, or travelling independently possible, sometimes for the first time.
App of the Year
Echo – Echo offers a streamlined and sophisticated solution to allow patients to take control of their repeat prescriptions with their smartphone or smartwatch. A user’s medication list is stored in the app by scanning the barcodes or locating the drug in a database. And after giving the details of their NHS GP, the user’s prescription refills are automatically mailed to them when needed. The app also sends notifications reminding users when to take their medication, leaving them with one less thing to worry about.
Non-profit of the Year
Patient Innovation – Patient Innovation is based in Portugal but allows patients and caregivers around the world to connect. Users create and share solutions for health-related problems that they have developed independently or with collaborators. Founded in 2014, Patient Innovation boasts over 650 solutions from more than 40 countries, with solutions ranging from 3D-printed prosthetics to clothing and smartphones apps, all presented in step-by-step guides and how-to videos.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Stephanie Eltz and Suman Saha (Doctify) – Stephanie and Suman are the founding clinicians behind Doctify. Doctify is a user-focused database of UK private-practice health professionals that allows patients to search by specialism, location, and insurance coverage. The Doctify website then allows users to compare specialists after reading reviews from both verified patients and clinical colleagues, before booking a convenient appointment.
People’s Choice Award
Sensely – Focused on chronic conditions, Sensely offers an innovative avatar-based care solution in the form of a smartphone app and their virtual nurse, Molly (or Olivia in the UK version). Sensely allows a clinician to seamlessly monitor a patient’s personalized care plan after being discharged from hospital: a patient checks-in with their nurse avatar periodically, while the clinician monitors risk factors and adjusts clinical protocol accordingly. Clinicians are alerted if the patient does not obey the regimen and can coordinate a follow-up video-call or specialist appointment.
Start-up of the Year
Cera – Cera helps users coordinate in-home care for a variety of needs including elderly, palliative, respite, dementia, and post-discharge care. The Cera system connects users, by phone call or smartphone app, with qualified, vetted, and user-reviewed professional carers who set up a personalized care plan in as little as 24 hours, complete with 24/7 support.