Awell Health, the Belgian healthcare technology startup, has raised around €2 million to bring unique collaboration and productivity tools to the healthcare industry. Early stage VC investor LocalGlobe led the round, with involvement from Moonfire.
Awell Health, founded in 2018, enables healthcare organisations to create, implement and continually update care pathways to improve patient outcomes. While public opinion and many new players in the digital health space believe data is the answer to solving the healthcare crisis, Awell Health believes the focus needs to be on reorganising largely paper-based and disjointed processes.
“Technology has enabled teams in almost all industries to digitise and reinvent their workflow, but healthcare is still largely stuck in its old ways, using outdated traditional paper-based processes,” commented Thomas Vande Casteele, co-founder and CEO of Awell Health. “As consumers, we are led to believe the industry has rapidly transformed – with news of innovations in robotic surgeries, new treatments, apps and wearables – but the way care delivery is organised has changed very little.”
Healthcare organisations have had to use tools like text-based PDFs to create and implement complex guidelines, clinical protocols and care pathways. This all makes the path of progress from evidence to practice incredibly slow. In fact, one study reveals it takes on average 17 years for scientific knowledge about the best care to be applied to clinical practice.
COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem, demonstrating the need for faster updating, as well as easier dissemination and implementation, of patient guidelines and care pathways as new insights come from understanding and treating the virus. At the start of lockdown, Awell Health was able to launch a COVID-19 pathway based on international guidelines in a matter of days – and it has been used by more than 50,000 people.
Guidelines published in PDFs make consumption at the point of care, usually on mobile devices, difficult and even painful. PDFs and web pages also require significant cognitive load from clinicians to look up, interpret and apply in their clinical practice. It has meant that, in some cases, patient-centric care pathways have only lived in clinicians’ heads and have therefore failed to be embedded into the daily activities of care teams or interactions with patients.
Thomas Vande Casteele, co-founder and CEO, explained further: “Making existing care processes evolve to reflect the latest clinical insights continues to be an archaic, slow and cumbersome process. New evidence is generated at a rapid pace yet takes ages to be included in the standard of care. In the Netherlands, for example, certain guidelines have a maximum validity of five years before they should be reassessed, in practice, we see many guidelines older than five years’ old. The reality is they should be updated much more frequently as clinical research is published which has been rising exponentially over recent years. Existing solutions are not built to support these complex needs.”
Julia Hawkins, Partner at LocalGlobe, commented on the investment: “Awell was started with a vision to improve patient outcomes at its core – while at the same time creating a modern workflow tool for care teams. Other players are focusing either on administrative tasks or the clinical work that is standardised. But the reality of clinical work, especially in areas such as cancer, inflammatory or other chronic disease, means that the clinical journey needs to be bespoke. Awell caters for such variety while allowing for more consistent delivery of care. We believe the fantastic team at Awell are building the digital healthcare system of the future: organising care teams and their patients in pathways, leading to better outcomes, more transparency, greater productivity, and most importantly – a supportive and clear experience for patients.”