5 Startups Shaping the Future of Health Care

Oct 27, 2021
From A.I. chatbots to virtual surgery, these companies are reimagining medicine and caregiving.

 

“The fourth industrial age is here,” says Daniel Kraft, a health care futurist and medical doctor. “It’s transforming how we get our digital banking done, how we stream movies. But health care is still stuck in the third — or maybe the second — industrial age, with fax machines and CD-ROMs.”

Specifically, innovations such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have been stubbornly slow to enter the health sector. And the big strides that have been made in data collection — wearables that monitor your vitals, voice biomarker trackers, and genomic sequencing, to name just a few — have so far resulted in only a few widely used, truly useful applications.

“Nobody wants more data, they want the actual insights that are useable,” says Kraft, who prefers the term now-ist to futurist. “How do we make actionable information that translates to the point of care or the bedside?”

Bob Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine and author of The Digital Doctor, remains optimistic that some of these new technologies may still have a significant impact. “Whether you’re looking at an X-ray, or trying to predict how many people are going to come to the emergency room next Tuesday, or seeing a patient and being reminded of an alternative diagnosis, A.I. will be useful in all sorts of ways,” he says. “I think it’s going to all work out. But it’s going to take far longer and be far bumpier than anybody anticipates.”

Here are five of the companies industry observers say are leading the charge down that bumpy road and reimagining the future of health care.

2. TytoCare

TytoCare is developing digital, multiuse testing kits for monitoring vital signs and diagnosing common illnesses. TytoCare’s telemedicine equipment, which is being used in thousands of schools in the U.S., can perform ear exams, listen to heart and lung rhythms, and take temperature readings, and then transmit that data to physicians. The device is designed to be easily used by patients, parents, or non-doctor medical personnel.

“Let’s be real — we’re not saving lives,” says CEO Dedi Gilad. “But we are dealing with the most annoying and basic interaction with health care. When you don’t know what to do, when you are anxious or under stress, you want to access a menu of options. Today, the industry doesn’t really give you a very good solution.” TytoCare’s at-home exams provide that menu without the need to visit a doctor’s office.

Telemedicine won’t be replacing live doctors anytime soon, but technology like TytoCare’s offers a chance to triage basic exams, keeping doctor’s offices quieter and lowering costs for patients. Founded in 2012, the New York City-based company recently closed a $100 million Series D funding round.

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