The HealthTech sector looks set to secure its second big venture capital win of 2016 today.
After Pushdoctor, a U.K. based start-up that enables users to arrange consultations with qualified doctors via video-conference using their app, raised an £8.2m Series A round led by Oxford Capital Partners and DFJ Esprit, to boost marketing and develop its integration with other healthcare providers, rival service Babylon Health will today announce a raise of $25m led by Swedish investment group AB Kinnevik and a group of investors that is said to include Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, the founders of Deep Mind, who recently sold their start-up to Google for a sum thought to be in the region of £400m.
The deal is expected to be finalised at some stage today and it is thought that, having invested, Hassabis and Suleyman will leverage Deep Mind’s breakthrough AI technology, including self-learning algorithms, to develop an entirely AI powered version of Babylon’s platform.
Babylon was founded by ex-Goldman Sachs banker Ali Parsa who told the Financial Times yesterday that he wants to “do with healthcare what Google did with information”, and that the Babylon team are “trying to figure out a way to get most of the healthcare people need straight to them on their mobile phone.”
The fully AI version of Babylon’s app, expected to be released in the next few months, will ask the patient a series of questions before providing medical advice; “the challenge is how do you deal with the bottleneck that answers people’s questions, checks their symptoms so that they don’t go to the doctor and if they do, they go appropriately”, Parsa says.
Babylon’s subscription health service which enables people to video conference with one of 100 doctors employed full-time by the start-up already has 150,000 registered users; the service costs £4.99 per month and is currently only available in the UK and Ireland.
Babylon has built partnerships with Samsung, Citi and BT and has recently begun to offer NHS patients of specific practices access to its service. Its core services at this stage are booking consultations, asking medical questions, health monitoring, providing tests and kits and storing a patient’s clinical information.
The Healthcare industry in the UK is estimated to be worth as much as £100bn and its disruption by fast-growth venture backed start-ups is being encouraged by schemes such as the Mayor of London’s “Med City” and a new £50m “Challenge Fund” for GP services. Other notable players in the HealthTech space include appointments service Zesty, behavioural medicine provider BigHealth.com and Health Unlocked, a multi-lingual social network for health matters across Europe.
“When we see how much can be done with existing technology, to improve access to healthcare for people everywhere, we ask ourselves two simple questions: if not us, then who? If not now, then when? There are no excuses for not trying”, says Parsa on the Babylon Health’s website. The company believes that whilst 50% of the world’s population live without access to proper healthcare, smartphones are becoming more and more ubiquitous. The company hope to launch the service in an as yet unnamed East African company soon. Watch this space.