Prevention is better than Cure

Prevention is better than Cure

How 7 visionaries are driving healthcare disruption

‘Digital health’ is a bit of a buzzword in the healthcare sector right now. It holds real potential to change the way in which patients are diagnosed, treated and cared for. I’ve been doing some digging in this space recently and have build a short list of seven individuals or companies who are actively deploying digital health mentality and technology to improve care at critical touch points in the patient journey. So here it is, my list of seven visionaries who are driving disruption in digital health.

1. PREVENTION – Jack Kriendler – Jointly Health

With an employment history including technology entrepreneur, media personality, physician and physiologist, Dr Jack Kriendler was always going to be a big player in digital health deployment. In 2007 he founded the Centre for Health and Human Performance in London, which worked with a variety of athletes and celebrities taking on complex cases. Amidst this was a combination of biosensors technology, physiology modelling and chronic disease management from which Jointly Health was born. The company’s Remote Analytics and Modelling Platform uses biometric sensors and Big Data to track physiological conditions which can be used for both prevention of lifestyle-related diseases and health management. This focus on prevention and adapting behaviour based on signals from your body holds fantastic opportunity for organisations like the NHS who desperately need to reduce pressure on the existing system.

Hear more @drjackuk

2. DIAGNOSIS – Billy Boyle, Andrew Koehl and David Ruiz-Alonso, Owlstone Nanotech

Owlstone Nanotech have produced a spectacular and highly sensitive chip (or Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer if you want to be precise) which can detect a broad range of chemicals in very low quantities. Originally used in industrial applications such as Oil and Gas, the FAIMS was eventually re-purposed for use in a medical environment. The great beauty of it is it’s tiny size and extreme sensitivity making it a fantastic option for diagnostic equipment. A great many diseases such as cancer, diabetes and TB produce chemicals which are present in most patients breath or bodily fluids. Owlstone’s technology provides a cost-effective and non-invasive way of screening people for these diseases, catching them early and hopefully increasing chances of successful treatment.

Follow them @owlstonenano

3. LOCATION – Bill Davenhall – Esri

Location-based health or geomedicine is a fascinating and emerging field of medicine of which Bill Davenhall appears to be the industry-agreed spokesperson. Geomedicine is the application of geographical data to health issues. For example, it might explore the quality of the air in a number of locations around the UK, and overlay this information with asthma rates or other respiratory complications. There’s a lot of work to be done here – simply because of the volume of information to be collected – but with the prevalence of location-based mobile services this is a field which is likely to take of and possibly completely change how and where we decide to live our lives.

Watch this space @billdavenhall

4. TRACKING – Andrew Thompson, George Savage and Mark Zdeblick – Proteus Digital Health

Proteus Digital Health are well known in this space for their development and subsequent FDA approval of an ingestible sensor. One of the most reoccurring behind medication inefficacy is patients failing to take their medications for a variety of reasons. Helius – Proteus’s sensor – allows patient’s families and doctors to track whether or not the medication has been taken and to adjust treatment where needed. In the future Proteus are working towards a whole class of ‘digital medicines’ containing sensors which feed back information on how patient’s bodies are responding. This will allow unprecedented response measurements and allow doctors to talk to our bodies in a whole new way.

Follow their progress @proteusDH

5. CARE – Ali Parsa – Babylon Partners

For all it’s issues, the UK offers an exceptional healthcare system allowing every person access to some form of free treatment if needed. But the rest of the world is sadly behind in providing affordable healthcare for all (and I say this as an Australian who has lived in both the UK and USA with a decent share of health problems along the way). Healthcare entrepreneur Ali Parsa’s latest venture is a beautiful mobile app called Babylon which allows people instant access to first-class medical advice any time, anywhere. For me this is really a major ground-breaker in the field of mHealth which will hopefully see us accessing medical advice with the same ease as checking our train times or Facebook accounts on our mobile phones.

Explore more @babylonhealth


Another mobile app, uMotif is a fantastic platform which supports patient/clinician relationships. It allows people to track and monitor their health as well as share their health data with clinicians for advice and support. I can see this software having particular use in chronic disease management, where patients are currently forced to visit hospitals several times a week for basic monitoring. In my own experience, the stress of going out in a poorly condition and enduring day after day of miserable waiting rooms, this app has the potential to completely revolutionise patient comfort and care.

Find out more @umotif

7. ADOPTION Leslie Saxon – USC Keck School of Medicine

I listed to a talk by Leslie recently which impressed me. As a cardiologist and clinician she was acutely aware of the benefits bought to her patients by the adoption of an open data mindset. Not only was she aware of it, she was making every effort to communicate this to her patients. In my opinion, it’s the people working at the intersection with the patients (and of course the patients themselves) that will make all the difference in the adoption of digital health. It’s not enough to simply develop these nifty apps and technologies. The patients and general community need to be made aware of them, and in many cases walked through the benefits. Sometimes the tech industry runs the risk of falling in love with their own products (we see this a lot in the payments sector as well) and forgetting that sometimes the general population need to buy in as well. So Leslie is the final and arguably the most critical of all of the amazing digital health visionaries to make my list.

Follow her @DrLeslieSaxon

Read the full article at Total Biopharma

Total Biopharma, How 7 visionaries are driving healthcare disruption [ Angela Sands | 13 June 2014].