The Future of Telehealth and Why we Invested in HigoSense
At Cogito, we believe that telemedicine redefines the way health systems operate and how we all get health care.
There is more to telehealth than just enabling phone or video consultations: the real challenge for healthcare providers is to remotely deliver care in a more effective and convenient way, while providing the patients with the experience of a physical exam.
This is where HigoSense comes in. Higo is a Warsaw-based provider of a mobile medical examination device supported by a mobile app and an online AI-powered health diagnostic platform. The Company enables physicians to perform a high-quality remote patient examination, and patients to perform a self-examination and collect diagnostic data prior to or during a telehealth session.
It was no surprise that when we first met Łukasz and Michał, the founders of HigoSense, their vision and the company’s product resonated well with us and we knew that Higo was the type of company we would like to invest in and support in executing their growth plan.
The Series A funding will help the Company continue to expand its solution in new markets across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The HigoSense device is a modular examination tool consisting of a primary device and five extension modules, each dedicated to different diagnostic functions: thermometer, throat spatula, stethoscope, otoscope and derm hood, enabling the patients and doctors to remotely examine body temperature, throat, heart, lungs, ears, and skin. The device is supported by the Higo Mobile app enabling the patients and physicians to conduct a thorough medical examination using the Higo device and instantly access their health records.
The Company offers a telehealth platform integrated with the device, where patient data is stored; the platform includes the Higo Doctor Portal enabling physicians to interpret video, audio and interview data.
The software behind the device and the platform is powered by AI-enabled algorithms enhancing patient experience and supporting physicians in their analysis of medical data collected.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, artificial intelligence (AI) solutions were already being used to help healthcare systems handle increasing demand for advanced data analytics to support scientific research, personalized medicine, early diagnosis of diseases and more effective treatments. The pandemic only accelerated this process. It is estimated that the market for AI in healthcare will reach around $6.6Bn by 2021 and $8Bn by 2022. Higo is one of the players bringing AI-based solutions to the market.
Telemedicine market opportunity
The telemedicine market has seen rapid growth that has only been accelerated during the pandemic, as telemedical consultations became the only option for many doctors and patients. As reported by McKinsey, telehealth utilization in the US has stabilized at levels 38x higher than before the pandemic (after an initial spike to more than 32% of office and outpatient visits occurring via telehealth in April 2020, utilization levels have stabilized, ranging from 13–17% across all specialties).
Importantly, the growth of digital health market is further helped by recent regulatory changes both in Europe and in the US. In Europe, since 2019, countries such as Germany, the UK, Italy, France, and Poland have started to reimburse remote consultations, which enabled new public-private partnerships with digital-first providers. In the US, CMS has allowed telehealth coverage for several procedures in the 2021 physician fee schedule (reimbursement codes). The health policy makers recognize the benefits of digital healthcare as a way of expanding access to healthcare at affordable and economically sustainable rates. The size of telemedicine market in Europe is expected to grow from $12.8Bn in 2019 to $49.1Bn in 2026. Higo Sense is building on this growth opportunity.
Increasing adoption of telemedicine services
We have witnessed a dynamically increasing adoption of telemedicine by institutional healthcare providers, doctors, and patients. According to a McKinsey survey, most European doctors believe that telemedicine is here to stay and will play a significantly greater role in the future. Over time, it is expected that digital health ecosystems will build a bridge to traditional care and allow an online-offline care continuum.
The consumer and provider attitudes have improved since the pre-pandemic era, once many experienced telemedicine first-hand. According to the McKinsey survey, ca. 40% of surveyed patients stated that they believe they will continue to use telehealth going forward — up from 11% of consumers using telehealth prior to pandemic. Continuing to focus on creating a seamless consumer interface, breaking down silos in care provision (across virtual and in-person) with improved data integration and insights, and proactive consumer engagement will all be important to sustaining and growing consumer use of virtual health as the pandemic wanes.
By enabling a comprehensive and guided remote examination, HigoSense is significantly expanding the range of conditions and symptoms that can now be reliably diagnosed during a telehealth session, which is one of the most important issues for both the patients and healthcare providers.
Customer value proposition
Higo’s main target are b2b customers: medical equipment distributors, insurance companies, hospital and clinics, home care companies, elder care centers, private medical providers, telemedicine companies and public health service providers. In addition, the Company is developing b2b2c distribution, with a special focus on families with small children.
Expanding diagnostic yield from telemedicine consultations can be accomplished by providing physicians with additional diagnostic information about the patient condition prior to, or during, the consultation. To be of value, and not a hindrance, the information needs to be collected in an easy and intuitive manner and provided to the doctor in a seamless fashion that is integrated into his/her regular examination routine.
This vision drove the design of the set of medical devices and a supporting AI-software platform from HigoSense. The Higo platform may further enhance the value of telemedicine for both patients and doctors and will help cement its market position as a standard medical practice.
 Graphical Research, 3.02.2021