What business to start in 2013: Digital healthcare

The Department of Health would love to cut costs and technology will provide the answers. Have you got a big idea?

1. Independent shops on the High Street
2. Outsourced security services
3. Knowledge-based products and services
4. Big Data
5. The ‘internet of things’
6. Emerging technologies
7. Premium products
8. Lean start-ups
9. Freelancing and contracting
10. Home improvement
11. Digital healthcare
12. IT security

When it comes to industry sectors, it doesn’t get much bigger than health. From big pharma to the technology companies underpinning networks at hospitals and clinics, the sector is rife with big-money opportunities.

The biggest currently seems to be digital healthcare, which describes the development of systems, analytical technologies and smart devices that have the potential to save lives by equipping doctors with quicker and more accurate information about patients.

It could mean saving the life of someone who is sick or anticipating illness in someone who is a high-risk case. Technologies in this sub-sector also help medical professionals monitor and manage illnesses, as well as learn from patterns that could save lives in future.

In January, around 300 investors, NHS executives, healthcare professionals and digital healthcare start-ups gathered at the innovation day for start-up accelerator Healthbox. The American initiative, started in a country where spending on healthcare is a staggering $2.6 trillion or 17% of GDP, has honed in on Europe for expansion.

The existence of the NHS and fact Britain spends 7% of GDP on healthcare, makes the discovery of efficient technology-based solutions a major priority.

For the best innovations, there’s a global opportunity, which was why 20 UK digital healthcare start-ups were flown out to Boston in the US on a Web Mission late last year.

Vodafone director Kenneth De Spielgeleire, points to a collaboration between Boston-based digital healthcare start-up Healthrageous and German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim for further evidence.

With enormous sub-sets of data now publicly available he says the companies have combined forces to find a solution to diagnose, analyse and prescribe treatment to manage type II diabetes, which affects more than 300 million people globally.

“We are seeing a revolution in digital healthcare,” says Andrew Chitty at Year Zero, whose company is rolling out digital health records to 1.6 million patients in the NHS. “It will transform the relationships between providers and their patients.”

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