By Angelica Kohlmann, investor, board member of private and public companies, co-founder of Bloom Diagnostics.
Technological development has made us healthier and allows us to live longer. Yet, the potential of new technologies is nowhere near close to being exhausted.
COVID-19 showed us there clearly is a need for better access to healthcare. Imagine telling someone, who isn’t feeling well NOT to go and see a doctor, but to stay at home. Yet, this is exactly what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless someone was already severely ill, there was no help. This needs to change.
Today people are used to searching online and find answers to any questions they may have very quickly. The same seamless approach is needed to support people with healthcare-related questions by providing smart testing and machine learning for personalized, instant, actionable results. Increasingly, people care about their health and want to know what is going on.
If someone doesn’t feel well, a few questions in a medically approved app added to home testing could potentially guide the person at least as well as a medical professional could. Telemedicine will offer additional support, as will e-prescriptions and instant orders of the necessary drugs at the closest pharmacy, with instant home delivery. Of course, medical professionals and doctors will still be needed, but mostly for severe cases. Those cases will be sent to them by the app. When patients arrive, doctors already know what is going on. This way, more lives can be saved.
Challenges for a perfect solution are present all over: Technical challenges, challenges regarding biotech, hardware and software orchestration and building a system that is so user-friendly that people enjoy using it. The greatest barrier, however, is regulators who are often reluctant to accept new solutions. Certainly, there are good reasons to be cautious especially when it comes to health, but computers have a better memory than humans, can collect much more information, and can learn faster. Therefore, transformation is needed. This takes a while. However, the faster the acceptance, the better-served society will be.
Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that everyone would have a computer at home? Who thought they would need one?
Healthcare will change dramatically over the coming years and tools will be implemented in almost everyone’s life, for people to be able to understand their health, and to help them prevent disease. This will dramatically alleviate healthcare systems. People don’t need to see a doctor every time they don’t feel well or if they need to monitor e.g. a chronic condition. Doctors will have more time to treat very serious illnesses. Healthcare will be completely different than what is available today, much smarter.
As mentioned, mature technologies are faster, more intelligent, have a better memory or can better collect information than humans. Additionally, they are cheaper and can reach a much broader population. This means that in the future, many more people will have access to affordable healthcare. It is not a question of if, but rather, when will new healthcare technologies be fully available to everyone.
Startups and large corporations are working on such solutions. Large corporations are better equipped financially, however, they are slow and bureaucratic. This gives startups the opportunity to come up with something unique, solutions that require the flexibility and agility big pharma doesn’t have.
But even for startups, comprehensive solutions may pose challenges, as startups usually focus on specific technologies and in this case, more complexity is required to embrace the challenge. It is much like developing a Tesla: You need a strong driver, cash, creativity, and perseverance.
Lessons from anonymous data will additionally offer new areas for the development of better, personalized therapies. Today, companies need to invest millions in clinical studies, while new technologies allow for ongoing studies with real-time analytics of millions and billions of data points. This is a whole new universe. Here data security is the most important factor. Most advanced companies in the field have cared for it early on by implementing different servers for personal data and for medical data, and full encryption and anonymization. The only point of access, where personal results are displayed is one’s personal smartphone, meaning that the user is the sole owner of the full picture.
Having immediate assistance, a seamless testing experience, and instant, actionable results is the future and will make the world a better place by democratizing healthcare.
Editors Notes: Angelica Kohlmann serves as Chairperson of the non-executive Board of the Company. She holds an MD and doctorate in medicine from Hamburg University (GER). She has been Chairperson of the Advisory Board Peter Drucker Society Europe / Global Peter Drucker Forum, Vienna since 2009 and is a non-executive Board member of private and public companies including Teralytics AG (since 2014) and Lonza Group (since 2018). She is also a serial investor in successful companies, with multiple exits, as the latest of CTRL-labs, which was sold to Facebook in 2019.
Bloom Diagnostics is an innovative medtech company whose hardware and software can identify a range of medical conditions, using a combination of advanced biotechnology, cloud computing, and scientific research. Bloom Diagnostics’ sophisticated system allows consumers to take control of their own health. Through its next-generation technology and personalized data insights, Bloom Diagnostics applies machine learning to improve results and analyze data that may eventually help develop new therapeutics. Founded by Dr. Angelica Kohlmann and Thomas Kupper in 2018, it is headquartered in Zurich and also has offices in Vienna. With a team of 60 employees, Bloom Diagnostics has plans to drive expansion across Europe and the USA.