Australian health tech companies in the fight against COVID-19

covid-19 health tech

As heroic healthcare workers around the world battle the virus on the frontlines, Aussie health tech companies such as HealthShare Digital, WeGuide and Anatomics are right behind them, providing some clever solutions and welcome relief.

First cab off the ranks in health tech

Since it launched in 2010, HealthShare Digital has built a number of products designed to help doctors and their patients make better-informed health decisions.

One of these is a pre-consultation digital questionnaire, BetterConsult, which saves precious appointment time by gathering information regarding the reason for a patient’s visit — their symptoms, condition background, etc. — in advance.

When the pandemic hit, it was a matter of hours to adapt the questionnaire to screen for COVID-19 risk factors.

For example, it now includes questions about whether the patient is experiencing any flu-like symptoms, or has been overseas or on a cruise ship in the past 14 days.

“It’s been very rewarding for the team to be able to immediately impact practices for the benefit of the staff and patients,” Rami Weiss, co-founder of HealthShare Digital, says.

“Practices needed to change their processes literally overnight.

“Being able to more scalably find out who might be at risk from their patient cohort was incredibly valuable,” he adds.

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The health tech start-up making a big impact

A spin-off of Curve Tomorrow, WeGuide is a two-year-old digital health startup that’s “gone hammer and tongs” at implementing and developing COVID-related solutions, Sandy Buchanan, WeGuide’s head of partnerships, says.

So far, it’s been a three-pronged attack featuring:

  • A digital questionnaire to help Western Health — a healthcare district in western Melbourne with more than one million people in its catchment — monitor the health and wellbeing of its workforce
  • An app for a large state healthcare organisation in WA, which sends clinicians and patients targeted COVID-related advice depending on their geolocation
  • An engagement app to gather subject data for the BRACE trial, which is testing the BCG vaccine against COVID-19

According to Buchanan, the BRACE trial was built at lightning speed after an 11th-hour request. Although it would usually take two to four months to launch a project of this size, WeGuide’s team members worked around the clock to deliver it in under three weeks.

“We were all driven by this shared belief and drive in building something that would have an impact on COVID,” Buchanan says.

“It gave everybody that spurring motivation of energy.”

WeGuide has also recently integrated Binah AI’s medical-grade vital signs monitoring software into its platform.

The supply-chain solution

Medical device company Anatomics has a huge factory with 2300-square-metre floor space, engineers and staff who can reverse engineer products very quickly, and rooms full of 3D printers for different materials.

In the fight against COVID-19, vice president of global sales and marketing Gibran Maher says it’s “a logical conclusion” to combine these assets and resources into a global digital portal called Print 3D. The portal allows clinicians, surgeons or patients to request products unavailable because of the pandemic.

Anatomics then supplies very short-run supply chain solutions, manufacturing everything from ventilator valves, to surgical widgets, to hands-free door openers.

“Frontline healthcare workers globally are putting their lives at risk day in, day out to try and save everybody,” Maher says.

“So it’s the least we can do to pivot our business to be able to support them with any supply chain shortages that they have.”

Going global with Aussie health tech

Although COVID-19 has devastated the globe, it’s also been “a catalyst for a shift towards a more digital future for the healthcare sector,” Buchanan says.

Things are certainly gearing up for HealthShare, WeGuide and Anatomics, with each company recently working with Austrade to take their health tech expertise overseas.

“Anatomics is working with the Austrade teams to perform distributor search functions and market-entry strategies to launch our product portfolios in Vietnam, Thailand, India and Indonesia,” Maher says. “I’ve worked with them in the past to do this in Latin America.”

Meanwhile, WeGuide is collaborating with leading healthcare organisations to further build out their COVID-19 symptom tracking system and explore commercialisation in the United States.

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