The government has released details of how the UK’s healthtech sector has come together to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

From tracking cases to supporting front-line staff; loaning vital equipment and resources; providing online patient care; and gathering and analysing data, numerous companies are helping to address challenges across the health and social care sectors.

Over the last seven years, investment in UK healthtech has been the highest in Europe and the number of companies in the sector has increased by more than 25% since 2015. 

During 2019 the sector received $2.3bn in venture capital backing, almost double that of France, the next highest recipient. The companies in the sector have a combined turnover of £24 billion and employ more than 127,400 people across 3,860 businesses. 

The news comes as the Chancellor announced UK businesses driving innovation and development hit by coronavirus will be helped with a £1.25 billion government support package. This includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies, made up of funding from government and the private sector to protect these businesses and enable the unicorns of tomorrow to thrive.

Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for digital,said the collaboration between healthtech and health and social care will “shape the future”. 

“Over the last month The UK’s healthtech sector has shown why it is a global leader, quickly using its expertise to develop practical solutions to help the government and the NHS with innovative products and services to respond to those in need. These new technologies will not only help in the here and now but they will also  shape the future of healthcare in the UK and indeed across the world. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the startups and tech companies that have switched their entire focus to backing the national effort to tackle this health crisis,” she said.

Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX added that digital technology has a “vital” role to play. “Tech can help the country deal with coronavirus. Digital tools are vital, whether they work to collect data or to connect patients with clinical staff,” he said.

How tech companies are working to meet the challenge of Covid-19

Microsoft has given all users of NHSmail in England and Scotland access to Teams, its workplace collaboration platform, for three months

Microsoft, Google, Palantir, AWS and Faculty are supporting NHSX and NHS England’s technical teams to develop a data platform that provides safe, secure, reliable and timely data 

Siemens Healthineers – working with WHO to develop a fast-acting test to identify patients with coronavirus

Facebook – producing heat maps of coronavirus spread in real time, helping promote high quality information

Doctor Care Anywhere –  free training for GPs in the UK to help them manage and conduct video consultations. 

Temporary staffing platforms Patchwork and OnCare make their systems free for NHS Trusts, and care workers. 

Unmind, the British workplace mental-health platform, and meditation app Headspace offer NHS staff free access.

Big Health is offering over 1 million NHS staff the Sleepio and Daylight apps free

Healthtech unicorn Babylon’s 24/7 GP at Hand app and coronavirus Care Assistant app, a symptom tracker, are relieving pressure on 111 services

AccuRx, a trusted tool for UK GPs to send text messages to patients, built a video consultation product over a weekend and is now used by over 90% of GP practices and for online appointments.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies has provided its suite of sequencing products to countries worldwide, to help with the research and genetic epidemiology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Blue Prism has donated ‘robot workers’ to the NHS to help Trusts automate manual processes from hiring staff to increasing video patient consultations.

Intelligent Ultrasound, a simulation tool to teach healthcare workers to look for signs of respiratory disease, was released to customers for free and is being used to teach staff how to use it at the temporary 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel.

Faculty is working with the NHS creating a new NHS AI lab that will set standards for the safe and effective use of AI across the health service

Triscribe’s hospital analytics team has shifted its focus to gathering and tracking data related to coronavirus, including the track of drug use and medicine stocks. 

Medopad is working with clinicians from Imperial College and John Hopkins University, to develop a remote patient monitoring platform for chronically ill patients and the vulnerable.

Date published: April 21, 2020

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