Original article was published by Shadeeb Hossain on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Healthcare Startups that is worth the investment
It is not just the numbers but the impact it makes to the society
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that healthcare industry should be one our priority for a functional society. An average American spends over $10,000 on healthcare expenditure. According to the data from the National healthcare spending, the total expenditure in US alone in 2019 was 3.6 trillion. This is 4 % increment from 2018 where expenditure was $3.5 trillion and in 2015 it was roughly $3.2 trillion. These numbers show a consistent increment and reflects the potential for startups to tap into the profit of the market-share.
During the first quarter of 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic there were nearly 500 AI healthcare startups that had collectively raised venture fund of approximately $8.4 billion. According to data from statista.com, the revenue of the US healthcare industry in 2019 was $2487 billion.
The healthcare industry is undoubtedly is one of the fastest growing industry and its collaboration with Artificial Intelligence (AI) , Machine Learning (ML) and Robotics has the potential to drive down both cost and simultaneously increase revenue. Large corporations have already realized this potential and has invested heavily into this market. Some notable names include IBM, Google, Neuralink and many others.
Let’s discuss some of the interesting research performed by certain startups and big corporations that includes the implementation of AI and robotics in the healthcare industry.
Verb Surgical is formed by a partnership between Verily (from Google) and Ethicon Endo Surgery ( Johnson and Johnson). It aims to integrate data analysis and ML to make surgeons more proficient and improve clinical outcomes with cost-effective solution. Dave Herrmann, the Senior Vice President of Verb Surgical, described the startup as a tool used by surgeons to prepare, perform and follow-up on cases using a single platform. It will also allow to share procedural data and learn from the best practices globally. The digital surgery platform aims to transform technology into actionable information.
Verily is also working on its own individual project where it collaborates with researchers, engineers and volunteers to find the solution to some challenging healthcare dilemma. Some of its active projects include finding factors affecting COVID-19, certain skin conditions, mood swings and many other interesting studies. These research studies when complimented with AI will definitely identify underlying factors that were previously ignored.
IBM Watson Health is another known name in the healthcare industry. They work towards integrating a vast amount of medical data into a cloud hub. The company plans on revolutionizing how medicines or drugs are prescribed to patients. The cognitive capabilities and traditional analytics are to be used to determine the right medication for any patient. Most patients have underlying conditions that could be sometimes ignored or overlooked by physicians unintentionally.
This research has great potential because of the variation in patient conditions and the range of medications available. Using AI technology the platform can decide whether a particular medication is actually suitable for a particular patient.However, some of the limitations and criticism include recommending incorrect treatment advice. Hence this platform has potential when complimented with a registered physician consultation.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Americans spent over $16.5 billion in cosmetic plastic surgery in 2018. In general, the cost of surgeon and the procedures increased a little over 4 % since the previous year.
Corrective surgeries also called refractive eye surgery is used for vision correction. AI is used in changing traditional approaches to cataract surgery. Previously, surgeons had to rely on static images of patient eyes and other general measurements for removing cataract. This provides scope of including AI technology to improve the efficiency and complications associated with surgery. Now, AI can be used to compare against previous data to determine the patient corneal strength and the appropriate lens. This will simultaneously reduce cost associated with revision surgery and improve the patient well being.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is another AI technology that has the applications in the field of medicine. Since chart review is time consuming and laborious, NLP can extract critical information from electronic health records (EHR). The NLP algorithm was able to extract EHR data with an accuracy of almost 99% . It confirms the validity and potential application of this technology in identifying data elements from operative notes.
EPIC, AthenaHealth, GE Centricity are electronic health vendors (EHR) that focuses on developing software and cloud based capabilities for hospitals and other academic medical centers. Unstructured “raw” medical data produce challenge in both storage and performing analytics. NLP has the ability to produce a result-orientated structured data that can allow analysis and complement the work of surgeons. At the same time, it can eliminate potential human error, thereby reducing processing time and improving efficiency.
Stratasan is a healthcare data analytics software company in Tennessee. The company was able to raise $27.2 million from 5 different investors i 3 different rounds. The company is involved in medical data processing which collect, update and check error for any incoming data.
MOS (Medical Record Reviews) is a medical review service company actively involved in auditing bills and other documentation. They provide value-added medical record review service to medico-legal industries. This company is based in Tulsa, USA. They cater to a wider market share and its stakeholders include attorneys, independent medical examiner, insurance companies, medical legal companies and social security disability firms.
The US healthcare market is $ 3.6 T but Europe based digital healthcare startups are also offering similar competition by raising approximately $ 2.6 Billion.
Cardiologs is a cardiac diagnostic company (France based company)that utilizes AI and cloud technology to identify heart conditions. The company was able to raise $15 M in series A funding (company’s first significant round of venture capital financing).
Gleamer is another Europe based AIM company that uses a team of engineers and medical professionals to create medical grade AI tool that can be used by radiologists. BoneView AI is one of their product that is developed to reduce mixed fracture size by almost 30%.
Undoubtedly, the healthcare industry represents a great opportunity for startups. Investors see the potential in this market and are willing to invest if they see innovation. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIM) integrates the ability of medical professionals with the data intensive system. It can allow scope for comprehensive understanding of medical information and data. AI can help to find accurately the relevant data which is both time-consuming and cost-effective. Healthcare industry is a data intensive system and therefore AI integration can find ways to improve care and cut overload of information. For any startup to succeed it just has to identify the niche in the healthcare market and work towards its innovation and funding will eventually follow.