How a telehealth startup pivoted during the COVID-19 crisis, leading to 6x as many clients

  • Remote medicine startups and platforms boomed during the pandemic — HumanITCare was one of them. 
  • Founded by neuroscientist Nuría Pastor, HumanITCare allows for real-time, remote patient monitoring.
  • HumanITCare has increased its client base sixfold and expects a turnover of $1.2 million in 2021. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the shortcomings of many healthcare systems across the globe, and their inability to keep up with the digitized world.

Telehealth, however, may offer a solution.

Telehealth startups boomed during the pandemic, raising $3.6 billion during the first half of 2020 compared to $3.3 billion during the whole of 2019.From virtual doctor’s appointments to prescriptions, they do it all online.

Major players are also entering the sector with an increase in wearable health technology and Amazon expanding the rollout of its Amazon Pharmacy chain allowing users to purchase medication online.

Among the startups experiencing unprecedented growth is Spanish business HumanITCare, which allows doctors to remotely monitor patients and provides them with accurate, real-time information about their health condition.

The startup was founded by Barcelona-based Nuría Pastor in April 2018 after she observed follow-up appointments for chronic disease patients during her hospital placement as part of her master’s degree in neuroscience.

Pastor realized that “important information” was being lost between appointments and created HumanITCare. She spoke to Business Insider España about the startup, the future of telehealth, and navigating the pandemic.

A personalized system

“Why should the platform dictate what the physician has to do?” said Pastor. “We realized that each patient and each physician had different needs, so personalization seemed key to us.”

The system collects information from patients’ devices and passive sensors, giving doctors essential information so that they can take the necessary steps to treat the patients.

The doctor can select what questions they want to ask the patient, what type of data they want to collect, and from which smart devices.

“We started with mental health and respiratory disorders, but it can be adapted to practically anything,” Pastor explained.

During the pandemic, the company launched its telehealth offering, which has received resoundingly positive feedback. 92% of patients surveyed at Torrevieja Hospital said they wanted to keep it as part of their medical routine.

The pandemic boom

“Before the pandemic, we were working with three hospitals and now we work with 20,” Pastor said of the sudden surge in demand. HumanITCare initially offered its services for free to help deal with the saturation of health services.

The company grew from five to 15 people, and Pastor said they have taken on a global issue. They also expanded to working with pharmacies to follow clinical trial participants, which is especially important in COVID-19 treatments.

In the future, Pastor wants HumanITCare to “be able to deal with all hospital processes remotely and be the European leader” in telehealth.

Although it doesn’t currently have any shareholders, the startup obtained more than $600,000 in aid and experts to end 2021 with a turnover of $1.2 million — although Pastor acknowledges there is a way to go yet.

The future of telehealth

Pastor said the pandemic had accelerated the growth of telehealth, particularly in the private sector.

“Five-year contracts are being signed very quickly,” she said, although she pointed out that this was still not the case for public hospitals. Although there is a demand for it, she said it was now necessary to examine how the technology could be implemented there.

Pastor also highlighted the importance of acting quickly, as the healthcare model is already shifting towards a hybrid of in-person and remote patient monitoring.

There are also numerous challenges facing the implementation of remote healthcare, particularly cybersecurity threats to hospitals, which have been increasing over the last few years and notably during the pandemic.

Healthcare Explained:

Telehealth Industry
Value-Based Care
Senior Care & Assisted Living Market
Medical Devices & Wearable Tech
AI in Healthcare
Remote Patient Monitoring

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