Digital Health Startups Making Major Moves Across the UK, Europe and Africa


Telemedicine, and telehealth more broadly, have soared in the wake of the pandemic, and according to PYMNTS, patient adoption has increased from below 40% prior to the start of the crisis to over 60% of patients seeking digital doctor visits today.

Read more: Healthcare Payments Experience Report

Earlier this year, a PYMNTS report revealed that 54% of U.S. consumers want to manage their upcoming provider payments digitally, a percentage that has likely increased as more and more consumers embrace the convenience and affordability of digital solutions.

Here, we look at three health tech startups that have made major moves in the U.K., Europe and Africa in recent weeks, all indicating that the telehealth boom is being felt in several areas across the globe.

UK’s Babylon Health Begins Trading on the NYSE

Babylon Health began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) last month, after months of anticipation. As far back as May 2021, PYMNTS had reported that the medical startup was nearing an agreement to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — Alkuri Global Acquisition — valuing the company then at about $3.5 billion.

Read more: Digital Medical Startup Babylon Eyes $3.5 Billion SPAC Deal

See also: Healthcare Startup Babylon Plans Public Offering Via $4.2 Billion SPAC Merger

Prior to the initial public offering (IPO), the U.K.-based telehealth startup announced a collaboration with Microsoft which will see the two firms combine their artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cloud technologies to explore opportunities to improve healthcare cost and access for people worldwide.

Founded in 2013, Babylon Health is considered one of the world’s fastest-growing digital healthcare companies, offering virtual doctor consultations and AI interactions, and serving over 24 million people in 16 countries.

In the first quarter of 2021, the company recorded 472% in revenue growth, an increase from the 394% growth recorded between 2020 and 2021. And in 2020 alone, the London-headquartered firm provided 2 million clinical consultations and 3.9 million AI interactions used to inform healthcare decisions.

France’s Doctolib Expands Into Italy

French health tech startup Doctolib is one of Europe’s biggest tech platforms for doctors and health practitioners, offering a scheduling service for practitioners and medical institutions since its launch in 2013.

Close to 60 million people make appointments on the consultation booking platform, where doctors can integrate their calendar for 109 euros per month ($124), allowing patients to book appointments without having to first contact the practitioner.

Also read: The Doctor Is In — Dr. Booking Startup Snags $20M To Expand

After France and Germany, the French company recently acquired its Italian equivalent, Dottori, to mark the firm’s entry into its latest market in Europe. The company also announced plans to invest 250 million euros into improving its software in the Italian market, build a new Tech Center in Milan, and hire 500 people locally.

Back in 2019, the startup raised $170 million (150 million euros) in a round that tipped its $1.13 billion (1 billion euro) valuation into the unicorn realm. And in March this year, the Paris-based digital health firm launched “Doctolib Médecin,” a medical software dedicated to healthcare practitioners.

Ghana’s mPharma Expands Into Uganda 

mPharma is riding the telemedicine wave driven by increasing mobile connectivity in emerging markets, particularly across Africa. Since 2013, the company has been working to improve the drug supply across the continent, negotiating lower prices with suppliers and streamlining last-mile delivery of prescription drugs for patients in under-served markets.

The Ghana-based health tech startup recently acquired a controlling stake (55%) in Uganda’s Vine Pharmacy, marking its second entry into the East African region, after purchasing Kenya’s Haltons Pharmacy for $5 million in 2019.

And backed by strong international investors, the company’s funding record shows that it has the resources to pursue its aggressive expansion plans. To date, it has secured over $50 million, including a $17 million Series C round led by the CDC Group, the U.K.’s development finance institution, last year. 

Read more: Startups Look to Tap Into Africa’s Telehealth Opportunities

Last month, PYMNTS reported that the telehealth startup was looking to open 100 virtual centers across seven African markets in the next six months, a goal that appears within reach following the Vine acquisition.

“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our pharmacies as virtual doctor offices so that patients could get examined remotely during a virtual consultation. This is what makes mPharma’s telemedicine unique,” CEO Gregory Rockson reportedly told TechCrunch.