Ceraa UK healthcare provider in people’s homes, boosted by a platform that allows carers to monitor a patient’s health and potentially flag problems, has raised $320m (£260m) in an equity and debt funding round, split roughly 50/50.
The capital round of the funding round was led by Cera’s existing investor Kairos HQ, along with Vanderbilt University Endowment, Schroders Capital, Jane Street Capital, Yabeo Capital, Squarepoint Capital, Guinness Asset Management, Oltre Impact, 8090 Partners, technology investor Robin Klein ( of LocalGlobe fame) and others. Cera declined to name its debt partner.
The company now plans to expand from serving 15,000 patients to 100,000 every day. Ironically, 15,000 patients is the bed capacity roughly equivalent to the 40 NHS hospitals promised more than two years ago by Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, which not yet delivered.
The statistics are indicative of how home care is being radicalized by tech startups that are either using remote monitoring or hiring caregivers to manually enter patient data into apps. Eventually, long-term care in hospitals is likely to become obsolete, as the home can be just as effective a place to provide care.
It is estimated that more than 88% of hospitals and healthcare organizations in the US are investing in remote patient monitoring technologies. US-based startups in the sector include GYANT, which has raised $23 million, Neteera ($8.5 million), and Binah.ai ($13.5 million).
Cera’s proprietary system is less technological, but still clearly on the way to greater automation, in the same way that Uber and Lyft drivers may one day be replaced by driverless taxis.
The company, which also operates in Germany, provides home care, nursing, telehealth and prescription delivery services and claims it is 10 times cheaper than treating a patient in a hospital. Staff collect patient symptoms and home health data, which are then used to predict worsening conditions before they occur, leading to medical interventions. The company claims it can reduce hospitalization rates by over 50% and has other benefits such as reducing patient falls, infections and improving medication and prescription compliance.
With hospitals under pressure after the worst of the pandemic and staff stretched, these technology-enhanced services are likely to gain traction among healthcare providers.
Dr Ben Marutapu MBE, who launched the startup in 2016, told me: “What we’re doing is just mirroring what’s happened in other industries, such as ride-hailing or other services coming straight to your door. Most health technology is now moving to home health care. We started with older people as they have a high frequency of visitors.”
He said Brexit had a negative impact on UK healthcare, given that as many as 7% of NHS staff were from the EU, but argued that Cera was able to retrain people from other industries fairly quickly into roles in healthcare. “Over 60% of the people we hire are from outside of healthcare. It’s like when ride-sharing made a breakthrough when it became more accessible to non-taxi drivers,” he said.
Maruthappu added that the company intends to eventually move to a SAAS model, where it will allow other technology and care providers to use its services.