Digital Health Summit 2019

Click here to download the slides presented on the day

On 16 May we shared our research on the health tech sector and showcased leading entrepreneurs dedicated to evolving the patient journey.

From prevention and wellness to pre/post diagnosis, treatment and beyond, technology has a part to play in how we transform the services and products related to our race in birth, life and in death. Innovations across the sector have also led an extension of new offerings across ancillary industries such as insurance, data, property and consumer goods and services.

Following the digital patient journey we explored key players disrupting the space and the remaining areas we know are ripe for further innovation and adoption. See our write up on the day below!

Digital health is focus sector for Talis Capital, as we take smart money from our unique investor base to fund and fuel the companies of the future. Our definition of digital health is using technology to digitalise the patient journey with the aim of improving the delivery, payment and or consumption of care. At the Digital Health summit, in the inspiring Science Museum, we explored the aspects of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and data that are being fundamentally changed by technology.

This is a market that is growing rapidly and 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of increased investment.[1] Macroeconomic trends, including aging populations are driving increased spending in healthcare, while at the same time there is a global problem of patient demand outstripping supply of medics.

[1] StartUp Health Insights 2018 Review -

Martin Shen, President of Tencent Trusted Doctors,

Dr Shen gave a fascinating insight into the scale of the opportunity in China, where Tencent Trusted Doctors is the country’s largest integrated healthcare provider with 440,000 doctors. TTD’s mission is to leverage technology to provide high quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable to everyone. They want to improve access and bring the price down for example offering a full blood count for roughly £2. Although TTD confirmed has no plans to come to Europe, because the addressable market in China is simply so huge, the lessons it learns building an affordable hybrid system of healthcare in tech that incorporates online and offline aspects could be instructive for all markets. From vending machines from which patients can get testing kits to health kiosks that take vital signs, before video consultation with the doctor, there are many innovations that could improve delivery of primary care.

Prevention and Wellness panel

Demand (of patients) outstripping supply (of GPs) was a recurring theme of the event, the prevention and wellness panel considered ways through which people could take better care of themselves - ultimately avoiding recourse to overstretched primary care services.

Michael Heinrich, founder and CEO, of Oh My Green said that his scaling business, inspired by his German grandma’s organic garden, delivered healthy food to workplaces because the main way to improve poor health was through nutrition. Obesity, diabetes, stress and cardiovascular disease are the main killers in the US, with deaths from diabetes predicted to increase by 25% in working-age adults[1]. The cost of treating this nationally is expected to reach $4.2 trillion by 2023 unless something is done to prevent this. [2]

Physical health is not the only problem. Prolonged stress costs US businesses $300bn per annum and has been identified as the possible catalyst for many serious illnesses, both mental and physical[3]. By encouraging people to reduce their stress levels, Lavinia Ionita, Akesio co-founder and CEO, believes there could be major health benefits. Another company, Spill, helps employers offer their staff therapy-based solutions to life problems.

Pre- and post diagnosis panel

Primary care was described as the front line in the patient journey, made worse by a global shortage of health workers. Tools to help patients navigate this better or GPs organise their resources better were explored during this panel. Andrew Gardner, CEO of Doctorlink, said that within the NHS, patients and doctors were pushing the take-up of digital services. GPs are now having to look after more than 10,000 patients each, with 40% of these appointments deemed as unnecessary[4]. Technology that can shift patients to other care services or to self-care could have a huge impact on this resource problem. When it comes to staff shortages, technology can also help. Kheiron Technologies uses deep learning to assist radiologists to in reading mammograms. Another company developing tech to help diagnose conditions is Feebris. Using AI, it can bring expertise to isolated communities and identify diseases that are treatable. This is especially important since there is a global shortage of 7m health workers, ageing population, and 5 million yearly deaths of children under 5. [5][6] Your.MD is helping patients manage their own health better. The app helps patients find their route to self-care, thereby alleviating the burden of people making non-essential GP visits. Another tech company dedicated to managing overstretched resources is Lantum, which works closely with the NHS, having been identified early on to join an NHS Innovation accelerator.

Data, insurance and security panel

Underlying the entire journey is the opportunity for data to unlock new efficiencies and insights. Rinicare is a Manchester-based start-up which analyses the 15m pieces of data a day that are recorded for each patient in intensive care. By collecting and processing this data, it’s possible to predict post-surgical complications before they happen. With some predicting a 300% growth in healthcare data between 2017 and 2020[7], it’s clear that we are entering a new era of health monitoring. With huge increases in data, the need for security is greater. Dave Palmer, head of technology at Darktrace, said healthcare and hospitals were certainly under threat from cyber-attacks and breaches, a problem that is likely to worsen as we increasingly move towards cloud solutions. Healthcare is a big target because it has out of date systems and tiny IT teams.

Using technology to anticipate problems was a recurring theme of the day. Stephanie Eltz, is CEO of Doctify, a website where patients can search and book doctors. Insurance companies want to use technology to provide a better experience for customers but also want to begin analysing the data that is collected from wearables and IoT devices.

Having the computing power to analyse the terrabytes of data that could be relevant to a patients’ health will continue to be a challenge. Cambridge-headquartered Congenica is working with the UK’s pivotal 100,000 Genomes project, as well as China’s 100k Wellness Pioneer Project on this. The company has raised $23m and is developing a platform to analyse the vast amounts of data that come from mapping the genome.


Continuing this theme of using technology to improve the digital patient journey, the following companies are pioneering in this $200bn market.[8] Medbelle is the first end-to-end digital hospital, operating in the UK’s self-pay market. Current Health captures data insights to monitor patients at home, post operation and is working mainly in the US. Using that data set, it can predict who is at risk. Digital Surgery is developing a data structure that makes it possible to measure the surgical process, compare it and work out which is the best way to operate on particular types of patient. This information can then be used to train surgeons. The company’s first product, Touch Surgery, provides 2.5m users with 150+ online training simulations. Meanwhile Oviva is a startup that is working on preventative healthcare, by changing patient behaviour to prevent diabetes. This is a pressing issue since the cost of treating diabetes is expected to rise to £13.5bn over 15 years.[9] Mark Jenkins, co-founder and MD predicted that in five years, 90% of diabetes care would be digital.

From Life to Death

From managing your reproductive health to funeral services, delivered digitally, we discussed the healthcare journey from life to death, as well as taboos surrounding death and euthanasia. This discussion was about each of us taking shared ownership and responsibility of how healthtech can be used across all phases of our lives. The panellists were a diverse mix from the consumer demanding better knowledge and information about funeral services e.g Beyond or the desire of consumers to take control of their health through informed, preventative care with Adia Health and Health & Her. The use of sensors and technology in looking after an aging population was covered by OxeHealth, which makes sensors that measure vital signs in a non-invasive way and Elder, which is a platform that provides live-in care for loved ones.

Ian Strang, founder and CEO of Beyond - a modern digital brand which helps people find funeral services - described how people are rejecting the traditional funeral product and moving towards more of a “celebration of life” offering highly curated and bespoke choices.

Investor panel

In 2018 VC funding in Digital Health reached almost $15bn.[10] Each investor on the panel including Northzone, Anthemis, Invoke, Draper Esprit and Talis Capital provided their views on why now could be a good time to be investing in the sector. Even for investors not specifically focused on healthcare there are key indicators they look at to assess value. These include the quality of the team, the total addressable market, the unit economics, traction and the ability to execute with leading technology is there.

The US is taking the lead in digital health investment but 4 of the top 5 digital health deals outside the US were in China, one in Canada and the UK isn’t too far behind.

It’s an exciting time for ventures focused on using technology to disrupt this colossal sector and we can’t wait to see the changes that are inevitably going to shift the whole industry into new realms.

[10] StartUp Health Insights 2018 Review -