A Chat with Dr Umar Naeem Ahmad, CEO and Co-Founder at HealthTech Start Up: Abtrace

Abtrace is a health tech start-up based in London. We apply machine learning to large clinical datasets to improve the management and detection of long-term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or cancer. We do this by scanning the entire patient record and identifying the ways a patient might benefit from additional tests or monitoring, and then support clinicians deliver these in a single appointment.

This saves time, money, and improves health outcomes. The same technology is also being used to identify early signals that a patient might be developing a disease like cancer, this makes it possible for a clinician to make an earlier diagnosis and potentially save lives.

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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I had the opportunity of working as a front-line doctor in humanitarian crises; from Ebola in West Africa and post-war reconstruction in Timor-Leste, through to COVID in London. Sometimes, a crisis helps crystallise what we see every day. The best doctors learn to see patterns within the chaos of data and work efficiently. I started to wonder if we could scale this expertise by applying machine learning to electronic health records.

We started Abtrace in 2018 to make that possible. We had this idea that healthcare needed to move from a reactive to proactive approach, from late diagnosis to early detection and for that purpose we needed to automate processes, especially at primary care level. There is a huge potential for impact. We are all patients, relatives, and friends before doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs. When things don’t work efficiently in healthcare, patients suffer – for us, it’s an urgent, burning question of justice and responsibility.



How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

COVID-19 massively increased the NHS’ appetite for digital solutions to manage ever-increasing demand, particularly for primary healthcare services. This has made our opportunity to make an impact even bigger. 

 The pandemic also meant a reformulation of the way we run the company, with most of the team working from home. We were fortunate enough to have a team totally committed to the vision and having a solid infrastructure, both of which allowed us to overcome those turbulent early months.

What can we hope to see from Abtrace in the future?

We recently raised £2.1m and are now entering a growth phase. We’re seeing more and more demand for our solutions and so we’re increasing our team, accelerating our market penetration and expanding our product functionality.

We estimate to be live in 100 GP practices by the end of 2022, helping provide care to over 1 million patients in the UK.

In the long term, our vision is to be the gold standard for a new paradigm of care across the world – where patient data and communication is used to continuously manage and improve the prevention, proactive management and detection of disease.