Spring is back, signalling new beginnings. While the world is still combatting Covid-19 and countries are coming up with different strategies to move forward, nobody has the magic wand as yet. But hopefully Covid-19 has emphasised the need for us all to be more collaborative, sharing, and caring. New Zealand is currently tackling its own recent outbreak and in the rush of lockdown the last issue of MedTech Bites went AWOL. But we are back up and running again.
There is an increased interest in digital health startups in todays environment. In the US, around $15 billion has been invested in this sector in the first 6 months of 2021 as reported by Forbes in July. Telehealth delivery has taken off since the pandemic with fast-paced adoption of online clinical consulting, prescriptions, and remote wellbeing care and support. Technologies that enable clinical trials to be undertaken safely in participants’ homes is another area that is growing quickly, as is using machine learning to accelerate drug discovery and development. The leading deals in the US (between $400 – 550 billion) in the last 6 months were made by weight-loss app Noom, Ro providing virtual primary care along with an online pharmacy, and Insitro with its AI drug discovery and development platform. Check out CBInsight’s State Of Healthcare Q2’21 Report: Investment & Sector Trends To Watch for the latest data and trends.
In this issue, we cover two key topics on health innovation in New Zealand. The first is an insight into the drivers of innovation at Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) with Via Innovations, following on from our earlier stories on Waitemata and Auckland District Health Boards. Health technology innovation needs to be driven from business principles for it to be scalable and sustainable but it needs to benefit the patient. While Via Innovations was created to support CDHB’s own system, there is a real interest in finding technologies that can also be scaled across the NZ health system to address the constraints of resources and budgets.
Innovating to solve indigenous health issues is now a focus in many nations. While New Zealand has had a headstart in many ways in partnering with our Māori community, researchers and industry still have a lot to learn on how to do this properly. The second key topic focusses on the meaning of Māori data sovereignty and how to build relationships beyond just “consulting Māori” in developing and delivering social and health care. Daymon Nin, Chief Customer Officer at Whānau Tahi, reminds us that Māori want to determine their own future.
We also meet Kate Harsant who has recently taken over as MedTech Bites editor. Kate has seamlessly continued the flow of the newsletter, but her challenge is to give the MedTech Monster a “Kate” flair – keep an eye out to see what comes next. Kate’s contribution this month is an article she spotted in UniNews about the Auckland Medical History Museum ensconced in a corner at Auckland Hospital. This might spur those in Auckland to visit at some point in time!
Dr Diana Siew