SulfurA UK-based home healthcare provider, complemented by a platform that allows caregivers to monitor a patient’s health and potentially identify problems, has raised $320m (£260m) in a roughly 50/50 split equity and debt round.
Equity funding round led by current investor Cera Kairos HQ, Vanderbilt University Endowment, Schroders Capital, Jane Street Capital, Yabeo Capital, Squarepoint Capital, Guinness Asset Management, Oltre Impact, 8090 Partners, technology investor Robin Klein (of LocalGlobe fame) and others. Cera declined to name its debt partner.
The company is currently planning to expand its service from 15,000 patients to 100,000 per day. Ironically, 15,000 patients is about the equivalent of the 40 NHS hospitals promised more than two years ago by Britain’s ruling Conservative Party. not delivered yet.
Statistics show that home patient care is being radicalized by tech startups that are either using remote monitoring or hiring caregivers to manually enter patient data into apps. Eventually long-term care in hospitals will likely become obsolete, as the home can be just as effective a place to provide care.
It is estimated that more than 88 percent of hospitals and healthcare organizations in the United States investment in technologies of remote monitoring of patients. US startups in the sector include GYANT, which raised $23 million, Neteera ($8.5 million) and Binah.ai ($13.5 million).
Cera’s patented system is less technologically advanced but still clearly on the path to greater automation, just as Uber and Lyft drivers may one day be replaced by self-driving taxis.
The company, which also operates in Germany, provides care, nursing, telemedicine and home delivery of prescriptions and claims it is 10 times cheaper than attending a patient in a hospital. Staff collect patients’ symptoms and home health data, which are then used to predict worsening conditions before they occur, leading to medical intervention. The company claims that this can reduce hospitalization rates by more than 50% and has other benefits, such as reduced patient falls, infections, and better adherence to medication and prescriptions.
With hospitals under pressure from the worst of the pandemic and staff at a premium, it is likely that these technology-enhanced services will be sought after by healthcare providers.
Dr. Ben Marutappu, an MBE who launched the startup in 2016, told me, “What we are doing is simply a reflection of what has happened in other industries such as taxis or other services that come straight to your door. Most medical technology is now shifting to home care. We started with the elderly, as they are often called upon for help.”
He said that Brexit had a negative impact on healthcare in the UK, given that as many as 7% of the NHS staff are from the EU, but said that Cera could retrain people from other industries to work in healthcare rather quickly. “More than 60% of the people we hire don’t work in healthcare. It looks like a breakthrough in ridesharing as it became more accessible to non-taxi drivers,” he said.
Marutappu added that the company intends to eventually transition to a SAAS model, in which it will allow other technology and healthcare providers to use its services.
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