Cellscope sell a microscope that connects to your smartphone and can be used to diagnose ear infections and they just announced a $1m funding round from Khosla Ventures. This is an example of a sensor connected to a smartphone being used to provide a healthcare service. Their idea is that parents will email images from their children’s ears to their doctors for remote diagnosis removing the need for up to 30m physical visits to the doctor each year in the US.
That’s a big opportunity in its own right but more interesting to me is the potential for using services like this to bypass doctors altogether – either via machine automated services (in this case image recognition) or human systems designed to operate at scale (in this case maybe by micro-tasking for doctors). I would happily pay a small amount out of my own pocket for a service like this to get a quick result and avoid having to deal with the bureaucracy of the NHS or my health insurance company and I think there are lots of others like me. There are already small markets (which include me and my family) for remote diagnostic services like tests for vitamin D deficiency and the products are currently expensive, complicated to use and slow to deliver results. My thesis is that smartphone and sensor based services will drive down the costs and improve the quality and the markets will explode.
I’ve been writing about this for a couple of years now (see here) and it is good to see some top tier venture capital validating the idea. $1m is a very small investment for Khosla though, which is a sign that this market is still early in its development.