Can tech start-ups provide a cure for Europe’s healthcare headache?

Health tech start-ups across Europe are finding new and innovative ways to meet a need that overstretched doctors and mental and social care services are failing to fulfill. And who can blame them?


With doctors, mental health and social care services throughout Europe in ever shorter supply, patients and citizens are increasingly turning to technology to provide solutions. This presents an exciting opportunity for both developers and investors to find new and innovative ways of meeting the need.

In the UK alone, for example, demand for online GP services has grown by 99% since 2014, with searches for apps relating to mental health increasing more than five times in the same time period, according to a new report.

It is a sign of the times, too, that Swedish digital healthcare provider KRY – whose name means ‘healthy’ in Swedish – was able to announce earlier this month that it had raised $66m (€56.5m approx.) to fund its further geographical expansion. Founded in 2014, the company provides video-based doctors’ appointments, and has to date served more than 350,000 patients in Sweden, Norway and Spain, making it the largest digital healthcare provider in Europe.

And this successful health tech firm is only one of countless other promising European start-ups, capitalising on a growing need for new services. One – called Cera – is a multiple award-winning home-care services provider for seniors, older adults and individuals requiring personal care. Through the London-based company’s matching algorithm and automated scheduling systems, the 2017 Disruptive Leader of the Year is able to respond to enquiries within the hour and, in 96% of cases, when required, begin care on the very same day.

Meanwhile, Lifesum - a Swedish digital health start-up that helps users become healthier by using specialised applied psychology and technology – has become one of the most powerful health apps throughout Scandinavia, Germany, France and Italy and has now secured itself funding valued at €17m, with Wired UK declaring it “one of Stockholm’s hottest start-ups”.

Germany also has its fair share of successful health tech start-ups, including Qunomedical, a personalised healthcare manager range of medical services, enabling users to search for hospitals based on required treatment - and Selfapy, a therapy support tool which allows individuals, companies and employees to get the help they need anonymously in times of psychological crisis.

So what next for the health tech start-up sector? Effective, proactive collaboration between health tech innovators, policy-makers, regulators and potential funders is a must, to ensure that we take full advantage of new innovations, some of which can clearly provide a healing balm for our healthcare systems ills.

Tonya Stewart

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