World Health Day was just a few days ago. There are so many innovations in this field, and the emergence artificial intelligence means they are accelerating fast. That’s why we’d like to introduce you to a few of the most promising start-ups within European MedTech (there are over 250,000), each of whom are revolutionising in their own way!

1. Making it easier to get an appointment: the indispensable platforms connecting health professionals and patients

This is probably the first thing that springs to mind when we consider the European MedTech sector: websites that connect doctors and individuals. The undeniable success of Doctolib (a particularly good example) is testament to this: the need is real!

Docotlib vs MonDocteur

Launched almost simultaneously on the online appointments market in France, Doctolib and MonDocteur have both demonstrated impressive growth and have been caught up in a real battle for the French market since 2013, the former has taken the lead over the competition.

Internationally, Doctolib also comes out as a forerunner: last November the start-up raised 35million euros, mainly to accelerate their development into Germany, a market where they had to compete with the local companies Doctena and Artzttermine.

There are considerable benefits for both parties

These platforms work with clinicians who pay to sign-up and are fee free for patients. They reduce waiting times and make appointment making easier for patients, but also ‘avoid’ cancelled appointments by showing the doctor’s availability in real time.

Another competitor also lists this as a benefit: Instacare Available only as a mobile app, Instacare gives clinicians the ability to replace cancelled appointments by offering appointments to individuals as and when they become available. Medadom offers a slightly different service: by recording the symptoms and patient’s address, the platform helps individuals find a doctor who can carry out a home visit.

2. Artificial Intelligence to improve the diagnosis process

There is one aspect of healthcare that is primed to be shaken up by artificial intelligence over the next few years: medical diagnosis and in particular, radiology.

Large companies and start-ups are set to battle it out

With machine learning, medical artificial intelligence is able to analyse millions of data items in record time, compare them, recognise symptoms and provide a pre-diagnosis which is more reliable than a doctor’s. This is what Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence does and it has already been in use since 2012 at several medical centres. Other large companies like Google, Toshiba, Siemens or even Microsoft are working on similar programmes.

There are many MedTech and Biotech start-ups looking into this area too. BrainWaveBank is one of these, a start-up from Northern Ireland which has chosen to transform cognitive health diagnosis and treatment and make it a game. Equipped with a headset, the patient plays a series of mobile games and their data is read in real time. Machine learning means that over time a very detailed profile of the individual’s cognitive health can be created. A solid basis for reinforcing the probability of any medical diagnosis.

In a different vein, Personal MedSystems (better known under the name of their tech CardioSecur) allows individuals with heart conditions to monitor their heart activity and symptoms in real time to prevent attacks or complications. The mobile app linked to this wearable electrocardiogram also gives the patient advice on the “steps to take” and can share data with their doctor so they can act as quickly as possible.

3. Bionic man and the treatment of illnesses that are (as yet) incurable

Doctors are currently facing a variety challenges, namely: a lack of organs and research into neglected or incurable illnesses which has not come to fruition… These challenges represent an interesting research area for many Medtech start-ups.

OWKIN: artificial intelligence for finding new treatments

Big Data and artificial intelligence: This winning combination means that the French start-up Owkin can improve existing treatments, and even discover new medication. Once again, machine learning technology means clinical data and medical imagery libraries are analysed to discover what sets-off these illnesses.

Poietis: will there soon be artificial organs?

Poietis specialises in laser printing living tissue. In practical terms, this means that the shortage of organs and in turn transplants, which leads to several deaths a day, could eventually be filled by creating whole organs with this piece of technology. The future has never been so close!

Pharnext: the end of incurable illnesses

What if a treatment for incurable illnesses already existed without us being aware? Pharnext start with this hypothesis and suggests combining medicines and treatments that already exist. This technology, developed by PLEOTHERAPY, identifies synergies and possible combinations of several medications which already exist, in order to treat illnesses that are known for being incurable, such as Charcot disease or Alzheimers.

4. The next step: replacing doctors?

If there is one profession that seems irreplaceable, it is that of a doctor (in the wider sense of the word), and more precisely a surgeon. However, there is more and more technology which, currently exists to assist surgeons, but could go further, and who knows, one day replace them?

Birgit & Rosa: the robot surgeons and MedTech

The start-up simply called MedTech is working on creating, developing and selling “assistive technology for medical and surgical treatments.” Birgit and Rosa, laser guiding robots play a real role in brain or spinal surgeries by guiding the hands of the neurosurgeon. When man and machine become one…

Surgevry: virtual reality to develop new medicines

The start-up Revinax has perfected Surgevry, an immersion device based on virtual reality for apprentice surgeons.

Using a video recording of an operation, Surgevry re-creates it in 3D from the surgeon’s point of view. An Oculus Rift headset means the operation can be studied so future surgeons can learn to reproduce the gestures and techniques used.

The selection of MedTech start-ups we’ve just introduced only represent a minute proportion of the thousands of companies in this sector. All aspects of healthcare in the broad sense of the term are represented, and the thing they have in common is that most of the companies were co-founded by clinicians. A phenomenon we don’t see in any other tech sector, which just goes to show the fundamental issues that are involved: it’s the only sector that really is a question of life and death! The profession of doctor is changing and for the good, clinicians of tomorrow should be shaping and supporting this revolution by training in artificial intelligence tools, or perhaps becoming a founder themselves.

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