While COVID-19 has plunged certain economies into darkness, it has thrust other sectors into the spotlight – perhaps none more than healthcare.
Forced to grapple with the unforeseen and demand of tidal wave proportions, health care providers (HCPs) have had to turn to innovative solutions to address both imminent and peripheral concerns.
According to the National Health Review (NHR), three areas in particular have seen a surge in investments during this pandemic:
Virtual Care and Telehealth
With isolation protocols limiting the movement of those who don’t require urgent medical care, telemedicine (remote diagnosis and treatment) provides an efficient and effective solution. Easing the burden of medical facilities, these services enable prompt intervention while simultaneously decreasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission among patients.
A McKinsey report reveals that telehealth consumer adoption in the US zoomed from 11% in 2019 to 46% in May 2020, with HCPs now seeing 50-175 times the number of telehealth patients than they did before the pandemic.
Poised to be a lucrative market, the global telehealth industry may grow by US$43.9 billion from 2020 to 2027, at a revised CAGR of 13.3% according a report accessed via Business Wire.
AI in Healthcare
As COVID-19 cases rise and fall, overwhelming the medical workforce, HCPs look to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a bid to provide prompt and potentially life-saving information without straining human resources.
The World Economic Forum mentions French start-up Clevy.io, which launched a chatbot to help people access government communications relating to COVID-19. Meanwhile, AI start-up Closedloop developed the ‘C-19 Index’ to help identify those most vulnerable to severe complications from the viral disease.
The huge potential of AI applications in health care is garnering support for start-ups. Mentioned in the NHR article, Quebec-based AI supercluster Scale AI has invested $3.4 million into projects focused on pandemic-related solutions. A Technavio report on Business Wire reports that the AI healthcare market could experience a 28% CAGR from 2019 to 2023, growing by $5.16 billion.
The United Nations (UN) calls attention to addressing mental health issues amidst the pandemic. Soaring cases of infection, unemployment/ loss of income, and social immobility are just some of the factors that could build up to a mental health crisis if sorely neglected.
An article published in The Conversation compared two mental health surveys conducted in 2018 and 2020. 70% of the 2020 respondents met the criteria for moderate to serious mental illness. It was 22% in 2018.
Start-ups have responded to the call and so have investors. Forbes compares $462 million raised by mental health start-ups in Q1 2020 alone to $752 million total in 2019. Virtual therapy start-up Meru Health raised $8.1 million this year, backed by Foundry Group and Slack among others in the series A round.
“2020 tech is both shield and weapon that no other pandemic in history has had to face,” shares Vishal Uttam, Founder and General Partner of LA-based venture capital firm Veloquence Capital. “Healthcare has always been one of our focus sectors and the infusion of funds we’re seeing now is going to catalyze change we expected to see several years further. The pandemic has upended the way many think about investing in innovation – from merely opportunity, to necessity.”
About Veloquence Capital
Veloquence Capital backs visionary ventures with transformative ideas poised for global impact. It has six focus sectors: health care, fintech, frontier tech, connectivity, the future of work, and the future of living.
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