Page 7 - Spring_2022
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The first genome was sequenced in 2000, after over 10 years and at a cost of $3bn - literally off the chart! That cost has recently come down to below $1,000. This reduction has already had a profound impact by vastly enriching our knowledge on the genetic causes of diseases, which has led to the cell and gene therapy (CGT) revolution that is currently taking the biotech world by storm. We know from many investments in CGT companies, and the work we’re doing at the UCL Technology Fund, that science is just scratching the surface and that there’s so much more to come.
Pre-Covid: Slowly but steady
The adoption of digital technology in healthcare pre-Covid-19 has been slow but steady. In certain areas, considerable momentum was already unfolding in the middle of the last decade but were mostly confined to the USA whereas Europe continued to move very slowly.
To understand where technology in healthcare is today and where it could go, it helps to look at other industries that have been disrupted by technology.
A comparison of the global size of the healthcare industry (in money spent per year) to the combined market value of the largest digital health companies
in 2019 (before pandemic) produced a ratio of 0.03 or roughly 3% of the annual spend on healthcare. This compares with 2.7 in advertising, an area heavily disrupted by digital. In financial services and retail, it was 0.4 but trending upwards. This comparison shows how small the
digital health industry was in 2019. Clearly not all of healthcare can be digitised but there’s a lot of room for growth.
We’re seeing evidence of the enormous potential in some of the recent telehealth success stories in the US such as Livongo (a platform for remote support of chronic diseases that started in diabetes) whose patient numbers have grown >100% by mid-2020 to over 400,000. Livongo is the largest diabetes platform, yet there are over 30 million diabetes sufferers
in the US and almost 90 million with pre-diabetes so
digital penetration levels are still vanishingly low.

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