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Investors Place Bets on European Healthcare Apps

Positive attitudes to digital health options on the rise

June 30, 2017

Universal healthcare may be the norm in Europe, but that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from offering digital alternatives to government-led systems. This week, investors gave two services—Your.MD in the UK and Sweden’s KRY—cash infusions to help meet growing consumer interest in do-it-yourself healthcare tools.

Stockholm-based digital healthcare startup KRY received €20 million ($22.13 million) in Series A funding, according to Business Insider. It’s the second cash infusion in a year for a service that allows adults in Sweden ages 21 to 85 pay out of pocket for 15-minute consultations with general practitioners over digital video.

The service has already had more than 100,000 users since its debut in 2015, according to KRY.

In the UK, digital healthcare platform Your.MD boosted its coffers by $10 million, according to TechCrunch. The London-based startup’s OneStop Health system is based on an artificial intelligence (AI)- powered, chatbot-fronted symptoms checker that funnels users to a curated network of third-party healthcare businesses that provide either free or paid services.

Internet Users in Select Countries Who Are Willing to Engage with Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Their Healthcare Needs, Nov 2016 (% of respondents)

Investors in both companies appear willing to place bets on European consumers’ willingness to add digital tools to their healthcare regimen. Studies are beginning to show they may be onto something.

Recent polling of internet users in six Western European countries by YouGov for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that roughly four in 10 respondents were willing to interact with AI and robotics technology for their healthcare needs, with respondents in the Netherlands most open to doing so.

At 39%, the UK ranked lowest among the countries in PwC’s research.

However, the results of a June 2016 survey of UK millennial internet users by SAS and Foresight Factory (formerly Future Foundation) foreshadow a future where an even greater share of consumers are ready to entrust their health to technological options. According to that research, a greater share of respondents said they would be comfortable sharing their personal data with healthcare providers and institutions than with any other business type.

Types of Companies/Institutions with Which UK Millennial Internet Users Are Comfortable Sharing Personal Data, June 2016 (% of respondents)

The UK already shows signs of increased use of digital health options. According to a May 2017 report by Verto Analytics, the amount of time spent by UK members of its measurement panel with healthcare and fitness mobile apps rose 156% between September 2016 and March 2017. The additional 500 million minutes that those users devoted to such apps during the period was the largest jump of any mobile app category.

Cliff Annicelli

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