Ecosystems around the world are being disrupted in so many ways, often with new technologies or business models. Healthcare is no exception, and while many might just be talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in healthcare being the future, it’s already happening, and we need to take note.
For example, Chinese company Tencent recently announced a collaboration with UK-based digital healthcare company Babylon Health. It will see both parties leveraging Babylon’s AI system to deliver personal health assessments, treatment advice and individual health records across mainland China.
This is a big deal. We have been talking about David and Goliath partnering to build ecosystems for a long time. And this is a clear example of it happening right in front of our eyes. Babylon Health, founded in 2013 and with a total funding of $85m to date, is ideally placed for growth by getting access to a market like China through the huge reach that Tencent will give it.
Based in London, Babylon Health is developing AI technology that has the potential to provide accessible, affordable healthcare services to everyone. So far, Babylon Health’s membership base has grown to more than 1.4 million people, spanning Europe, Asia and Africa.
The company’s solution interacts directly with patients, with its AI system identifying specific illnesses, providing health status assessments, and providing a triage service for any necessary actions.. For example, when a user describes his or her symptoms or conditions to the system, Babylon’s artificial intelligence can analyse and form a personal assessment based on those inputs, while making recommendations as to whether the user should seek further consultation with a doctor.
Tencent has also been propelling digital applications in the area of health and medical services, through AI-based tools to improve the capability and balance of healthcare resources. Tencent’s initiatives have been covering the entire ecosystem from general health services to disease management, covering all segments of the value chain as well as corresponding real-life scenarios.
Hence the collaboration with Babylon makes for an ideal match and gives Tencent a bigger footprint in the realm of big healthcare. This deal is just one example of the trend in healthcare. Smart healthcare is now enabling the delivery of effective patient-centric care.
Entrepreneurs around the world are addressing clinical workforce shortages and cost containment using technology, AI and robotics. Deloitte highlights how some hospitals are already using robots to transport linens, meals, specimens, and to collect diagnostic results – tasks typically performed by clinical staff. The South Glasgow University Hospital in Scotland has 26 robots that move medical equipment, linens, food, and waste. These robots have their own underground tunnel (through which they transport supplies) and a dedicated elevator. And in the US, drug dispensary automation has helped improve patient safety by eliminating some decision making.
Deloitte says the hospital work force of the future could include:
- Cognitive workers: hospitals supplementing back-office staff with ‘cognitive workers’ to complete routine tasks. These are virtual employees, they don’t take vacations, don’t have emotions, and don’t get distracted.
- Avatar counsellors: avatars are being used in some hospitals to provide health counselling to patients. These cognitive counsellors can understand natural language patterns, including sarcasm, and can interpret facial expressions, such as sadness, agitation, and even dishonesty.
- Discharge planning robots: discharge planning ‘bots’ can initiate and coordinate concurrent activities including the discharge summary, prescriptions, transportation, referrals to home support services, and the scheduling of follow-up visits for specialists or occupational therapy.
- Healthcare companions: AI healthcare companions can assist patients in the home, use voice and facial recognition technologies to hear, see, and understand natural language, in order to adapt functionalities to serve consumer-specific needs.
These are all opportunities for entrepreneurs. We see many companies building their platforms and ecosystems to address healthcare and provide smart health capabilities for both healthcare providers and patients.
We’re out in the market identifying and following the entrepreneurs who are already addressing many of these trends now. Many of these will be at our Investor Summit in Dubrovnik in October – such as Peter Ohnemus, founder of dacadoo health and lifestyle navigator, and Urska Srsen, co-founder of Bellabeat, a tech-powered wellness brand for women.
To find out more about speakers at the Follow the Entrepreneur Summit and for registration details, click here