With changing social and demographic trends, the global Agetech market is set to double from $1 to $2 trillion by current estimates. This is being driven by two factors – growth in the so-called ‘longevity economy’ where spending by the over 50s is projected to grow from $26 trillion to $37 trillion globally, and secondly, the growth of digitalisation which is projected to rise 4-8 percent.
Among the rising elderly population, many are wealthy and want to spend on wellness. This is combined with a rapid growth in tech-savvy consumers who spend more and more time online, or use wearable technologies like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, to name just a couple of the devices today.
London-based agetech startup PCL Health is catering to exactly this.
PCL Health, (earlier Poonyah Care), is a connected care platform with remote monitoring and analytics to empower seniors’ health and wellbeing using the latest technologies. An AI-driven health score is combined with wearable technology and an app to help carers, doctors and family members monitor the health of their patient.
PCL Health offers senior citizens the opportunity to monitor their vital signs using either a remote monitoring device or a watch. This could take place in a care home setting but also in the person’s own home. The system checks important health indicators like blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen levels, providing an overall health score and sending an early warning alert if something doesn’t look right.
In the UK market, what makes PCL Health stand out from the crowd is their focus on easily usable portable medical devices and connected care aspect of the platform.
“Instead of a briefcase full of gadgets, you can carry our easy-to-use devices with you. Some of our competitors in developed markets offer elements of what we do but none offer the full package of connected care that we have created via our platform. The healthcare market is still very fragmented and there is an urgent need for the kind of one-stop solution we can provide. The situation is even more complex and urgent in India where the healthcare services are organised very differently to in the West and there are longer distances to travel to access formal care,” says Deepti Atrish, Founder and CEO of PCL Health.
There is no need of interaction with sophisticated equipment or manual measurement editing. Instead, PCL Health wearables collect necessary vital information while the patient is at rest. Most importantly, the users’ health is being proactively monitored and all carers parties are only one tap away. “Our connected ecosystem allows easy access to patients’ health conditions and trends for carers, relatives or doctors. PCL will turn your smartphone into a remote monitoring platform, providing individuals and healthcare professionals with a holistic view of your wellbeing,” says Deepti.
PCL Health had two pilots in India in 2019. “Our initial trials in India were very popular and led, in several cases, to important health problems being picked up and treated. We have part of our full-time team located there and are planning to enter Indian healthcare market in 2022,” she says.
THE GENESIS AND THE JOURNEY
The idea for PCL Health took root in 2018.
Deepti had moved to London more than a decade back while her parents were in India. Post her father’s passing away, she would remain anxious about her ageing mother who was struggling with her mental health along with physical ailments. She subsequently realised that her mother showed early signs of dementia and her concerns grew multifold. Instead of only incessantly worrying about her mother’s well-being from miles away, she determined to do something concrete that would help not just her but all such concerned children in the long run, by developing a digital healthcare platform for their parents and other elderly kin.
In 2018, Deepti decided to work on the solution of connected care and attended various international medical conferences and exhibitions. She decided to partner with sensors and device manufacturers and together with her own tech team, build a platform to aid everyone in similar need. Since then, due to the positive feedback from everyone around, she decided to scale her solution to larger markets and reach more people facing the same challenges.
Deepti kept on attending several conferences and seeking advice and suggestions from numerous healthcare professionals. This eventually led to the inception of PCL Health, which is providing concierge services in the form of immediate as well as periodical medical assistance, remote health monitoring, care and companionship to seniors whose younger generations stay away. Through her rich digital and entrepreneurial experience and an optimum utilisation of the latest technologies, Deepti was striving to create an ecosystem for the elderly not just to have their health monitored but to get immediate medical attention as well as companionship at their fingertips.
IMPACT OF COVID-19
When PCL Health concept was devised in 2018, no one could not have foreseen the impact of Covid-19 on society. Deepti says the challenges of self-isolation and social distancing measures that the pandemic has brought about make their solution even more relevant today than ever before.
“Covid-19 had a major impact on us in terms of demand for what we want to do but also in how we run our business, now doing everything remotely in our own work flow as well as building a remote monitoring product. So we are practising what we preach! We took on a Covid-19-related project with UCL London in 2020 which was very important for us and, perhaps most importantly, the overall shift that has happened in attitudes towards telemedicine and medtech from the medical profession and investors has been fundamental to us being able to push forward our fundraising and partnerships,” she says.
Now that PCL Health’s seed funding round has closed, the startup plans to complete the integration of a number of wearables devices into its platform. “We are also expanding our sales and business development operation so we can look to onboard Care Homes, Domiciliary Care Agencies, NHS Hospitals, and Private Hospitals. By early 2022 we plan to be ready to launch in a number of overseas markets including US, India and Russia,” Deepti says.
The startup claims to be seeing a huge interest in its solution from (UK’s) NHS providers, care homes, employers wanting to provide services to employees, and for a number of disease-specific solutions in areas such as diabetes, dementia and, of course, Covid-19.
Deepti envisions PCL Health as a necessity for families to connect and contribute for the wellness and good health of their elderly members, thereby forming a backbone for connecting them with a happy atmosphere and healthy ageing. According to her, being a part of this strong healthcare network will aid them in ageing gracefully in a healthy environment.
“Our mission is to reduce worry and, even more importantly, reduce the risks of our relatives becoming unwell without us knowing, with the hope that people can lead longer, more independent and healthier lives,” says Deepti.
Her vision is also resonating with investors.
“It’s always the team I’m looking into prior to making any decision for investing. There are millions of great ideas in the entrepreneurial realm, although it requires a visionary team ready for great hard work and determination to turn an idea into a scalable business. Seeing the passion and drive when talking with Deepti, was decisive for me. She came up with PCL to solve her own problem of caring for an elderly mother from abroad and I wish her best of luck in solving this problem for others in need!” says angel investor David Allen.