Computing vs Medicine
Manu Kumar

Couldn’t agree more Manu. I run a Scotland-based health tech startup, snap40. I left medical school to build the company but before medical school I did Computer Science and was a software engineer.

We’re trying to pre-empt illness by automatically detecting warning signs earlier. We make actionable insights available to doctors, nurses, the patient and home healthcare teams. As a medical student, I was struck by how often we only deal with illness only once the individual is acutely unwell – if we had simply known earlier, there would have been opportunities to prevent or mitigate. Why do we wait until we have to call 911?

Health tech presents some pretty interesting challenges. For example, we struggled to get the data we needed – real-time, high quality, validated vital signs – from existing sources, so we’ve had to build our own wearable. There’s also the necessary burden of proof – if you are protecting someone’s health, you have to be right, so there is the cost, time and complexity of clinical studies. Furthermore, medical regulation is implicitly against the notion of an MVP or releasing fast and often – we’ve had to build close relationships with regulators to help them understand why we would want to do this.

This means time to market is also longer – its taken us about 18 months to build our first release hardware, complete our first major study and get to the point of EU approval – and the need for capital early is larger.

But the opportunities are also huge and you can make an incredible impact on people’s lives. That’s what makes it so exciting.

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