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Scaling the digital mountain

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Scaling the digital mountain


Hub locations are as much a feature in healthcare as for life sciences in general. In this article, originally published in the British science magazine Laboratory News, Ursula Costa describes how the Basel Area promotes digital innovation.

Published by Laboratory News

Drone view of the Basel City with a view on the Basel-Landschaft and the hills in the background

Digital technologies are touted to shape the future of healthcare. The global digital health market was valued at US$211 billion in 2022, and it is projected to grow at a compound rate of 18.6% from 2023 to 2030 [1].

Patients are already benefiting from enhanced knowledge about their conditions, improved disease management, and even remote surveillance of chronic illnesses through permanent communication channels. The Basel area of Switzerland is quickly becoming a leading hub for such healthtech innovations, with the region’s deep talent pool, life sciences heritage and wealth of incubator and accelerator programs making it the ideal launchpad for young enterprises looking to contribute to a digital revolution.

A shifting dynamic

Traditional healthcare has followed a reactive, physician-led approach for centuries; a person becomes ill, then visits a doctor, who decides on a course of treatment.

However, the widespread adoption of wearable technologies is now allowing individuals to take health matters into their own hands. For example, smart watches are giving people the power to monitor their heart rates, activity levels and sleep patterns, while personalised nutritional advice programs are being coupled with glucometers to arm individuals with information about how diet can affect their blood sugar levels [2].

The data generated by these technologies is often collated and analysed by online platforms or apps, providing individuals with a wealth of insights that would previously have required a trip to a local clinic. This dynamic shift is also proving beneficial for healthcare professionals; smart devices, when combined with the right point-of-care sensors, can allow clinicians to track the health metrics of their chronically ill patients, rather than relying solely on a handful of in-person checkups per year to monitor their condition.

One company taking advantage of this, Hope Care, has developed a remote monitoring platform to collate and analyse data gener ated by smart devices. Founder José Paulo Carvalho explains: “There’s a wealth of health metrics that can now be collected from the comfort of a patient’s home, using just a mobile phone or smart watch. However, once you add third-party devices like blood glucose and oxygen monitors into the equation, the sky is truly the limit. That’s exactly what makes our HC Alert app so effective; its ability to seamlessly interface with technologies developed by dozens of manufacturers. The platform can monitor a wide range of chronic illnesses – from hypertension and obesity to COPD and heart disease – depending on which devices are in use, and even alert the patient’ s doctor to potentially urgent issues that ma y require medical intervention. HC Alert has already been shown to reduce hospital admissions linked to chronic illnesses by 55%, and total hospitalisation days by 45% [3], significantly decreasing the financial burden of long-term disease on public health services.”

There’s a wealth of health metrics that can now be collected from the comfort of a patient’s home, using just a mobile phone or smart watch. However, once you add third-party devices like blood glucose and oxygen monitors into the equation, the sky is truly the limit.

José Paulo CarvalhoFounder of Hope Care

Illuminating IBD

Another company focused on the management of chronic conditions is IBDrelief, set up to support people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Rather than focusing on data generation and analysis, the company’s co-founder Seb Tucknott realised – through his own journey with ulcerative colitis – that what patients sometimes really need is access to accurate and up-to-date information about their illness.

The problem was that most of the available IBD information was scattered across various forums and social media support groups, making it nearly impossible to organise and follow. This led to the development of IBDrelief in 2016, providing the patients themselves with a platform that shares real-life experiences of people living with IBD, advice on managing symptoms, and behavioural changes which can improve quality of life. We were also acutely aware that only a limited amount of information could be conveyed by doctors during brief, in-person IBD checkups, leading to frustration for both patients and clinicians. That’s why we’ve carefully curated hours of video interviews with IBD specialists, detailing everything from descriptions of common symptoms to what people can expect from colonoscopies and other medical interventions.”

Boosting brain health

Digital platforms aren’t just invaluable tools to help manage chronic illnesses, they can also be used to assess cognitive decline. OptiChroniX has developed a platform – myAVOS – to support healthy brain aging. Founder and CEO René Gilvert describes the company’s approach: “myAVOS is a cognitive care platform that interfaces with a range of thirdparty smart devices. It allows users to track numerous health metrics – such as diet, sleep, activity levels, systolic blood pressure, weight and blood sugar – to highlight lifestyle factors that may cause adverse health effects.

“When combined with data from cognitive-assessment exercises, this information can be used to assess an individual’s current cognitive health and predict the risk of developing dementia in the future. The platform then uses cutting-edge AI technology and advanced algorithms from industry leaders – such as OpenAI and Google – to provide users with a personalised blueprint for maintaining and enhancing cognitive health, including brain training exercises and suggestions for lifestyle changes. Patients can also seamlessly share their health data with caregivers, allowing care teams to make informed decisions, offer timely interventions and provide increasingly personalised care.”

These three companies have all been guided by Basel Area Business & Innovation’s health hub DayOne’s Health 4.0 accelerator, which provides the support, funding and nurturing ecosystem needed to bring their innovations to the big stage. Online platforms are breaking down longstanding barriers between clinicians and patients, giving doctors access to continuous data streams that can support critical treatment decisions, while also providing chronic illness sufferers with the information needed to effectively manage their conditions.

Tucknott outlines: “After taking medication to manage my condition for several years, I started to seek out a more holistic approach that could bring my symptoms under control.


  1. Digital health market size, share and trends report 2023-2030. Grand View Research.
  2. How does ZOE actually work. ZOE.
  3. Hope Care.

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