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Advice On Winning Attention For Digital Health Solutions

Posted on December 7, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Some of you reading this are probably involved with a digital health startup to one degree or another. If so, you’ve probably seen firsthand how difficult it can be to get attention for your solution, no matter how sophisticated it is or how qualified its creators are. In fact, given the fevered pace of digital health’s evolution, you may be facing worse than typical Silicon Valley odds.

That being said, there are strategies for standing out even in this exploding market, according to participants at a recent event dedicated to getting beyond health tech hype. The event, which was written up by health tech startup incubator Rock Health, featured experts from Dignity Health, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and Evidation Health.

Generally speaking, the panelists from these organizations spelled out how health tech startups can make more convincing pitches, largely by providing more robust forms of evidence:

  • They said that standard metrics demonstrating the effectiveness of your solutions — such as randomized trials and evidence-based reviews — probably weren’t enough, as they sometimes don’t translate to real-world results. Instead, what they’d like to see is the product “used under some stress or duress and how it’s received by caregivers, members, patients and their families,” said Dr. Scott Young, who serves as executive director and senior medical director of Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute.
  • They want you to produce “softer feedback” such as stories and testimonials directly from customers and users. “So many solutions claim to do the same thing,” said Karen Lee, innovation and strategic partnerships leader at Humana. “This softer feedback allows us to really get a feel for that experience and whether or not it’s effective.”
  • They expect you to be able to nail down how your product meets their strategic objectives, and can help them achieve the specific outcomes they have in mind. If you can’t do that, though just reach out to someone who can.
  • They want to bear in mind that even if they’re quite interested in what you’re doing, there’s typically a lot of politics to navigate before they can the pilot with your technology, much less implement fully. “Beyond the evidence, a successful pilot, and research, there are some complexities that you have to be patient and working through,” says Lee.
  • Perhaps most importantly, they need to know that you’ve kept the patient in mind. “The patient needs to know how to use [your technology], and should be using it,” said Dr. Manoja Lecamwasam, executive director of intellectual property and strategic innovations at Dignity Health. “You have to first build that foundation – look at it there, and a lot of people want to talk to you.”

At this point, readers, I realize some of you are probably feeling frustrated, as it may seem that many potential digital health adopters have set the bar for adoption very high, even once you’ve proven that your solution works by most conventional methods. Still, it doesn’t hurt to get an idea of how the “other side” thinks.

Wearables Trendsetters Don’t Offer Much Value

Posted on June 1, 2015 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Today I was looking over my Twitter feed and this tweet popped up:

The referenced article appeared on the corporate site of Qmed, a supplier to the medical device industry. I found this interesting, as it’s pretty obvious that wearables and other mHealth toys will evolve into medical-grade devices over time.

But the choices the article made for hottest wearable firms, while worth a look, demonstrate pretty clearly that few wearables makers can point to any real, meaningful healthcare benefit they offer. (That’s obviously not Qmed’s fault — none of this is aimed at the editor who pulled this piece together — but it’s still a significant point.)

Some of the wearables listed are half-hearted medical device plays, others are fashionable eye candy for upscale geeks, and still others are tadpoles evolving from some other industry into a healthcare mode. Here’s some examples from the list, and why I’m skeptical that they deserve a high five:

* The list includes Apple courtesy of  its Apple Watch.  Right now nobody seems to know quite how the Apple Watch, or any smartwatch for that matter, serves anyone except gadget geeks with extra cash. How, exactly, will having a smartwatch improve your health or life, other than giving you bragging rights over non-owners?

* There’s Fitbit, which is undeniably the wearables success story to beat all others. But just because something is cool doesn’t mean it’s accomplishing anything meaningful. At least where healthcare is concerned, I fail to see how its cursory monitoring add-ons (such as automatic sleep monitoring and heart rate tracking) move the healthcare puck down the ice.

* The list also includes Misfit, whose $850K success on Indiegogo has vaulted it into the ranks of hipster coolness. Admittedly, its Shine is a lovely piece of wearables jewelry, and the Flash is cool, but again, should healthcare leaders really care?

* I admit to a certain interest in Caeden, a Rock Health wearables firm which apparently started out making headphones. The Qmed article reports that the company, which got $1.6M in funding this year, is creating a screenless leather wristband which does health monitoring. But I’m critical of the “screenless” aspect of this product; after all, isn’t one of the main goals of monitoring to engage patients in the process?

I could go on, but you probably get the point I’m trying to make. While the devices listed above might have their place in the consumer health device food chain, it’s not clear how they can actually make patients do better or feel better.

I do have to offer kudos to one company on the list, however. Chrono Therapeutics has an intriguing product to offer which could actually save lungs and lives. The company, which took in $32M in financing last year, has created a slick-looking wearable device that delivers doses of nicotine when a smoker’s cravings hit, and tracks the doses administrated. Now that could be a game change for consumers trying to beat nicotine addiction. (Heck, maybe it could help with other types of addiction too.)

I only hope other wearables manufacturers pick a spot, as Chrono Therapeutics has, and figure out how to do more than be cool, look good or sell to trendies.

The Week of Women in Healthcare

Posted on August 22, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company’s social media strategies for Billian’s HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

#XXinHealthWeek
Twitter fans – particularly #HITchicks – may have come across the hashtag above this week as part of the larger XX in Health Week, an initiative of Rock Health to connect and empower female visionaries to drive change in healthcare. I’m all for driving change, and know from personal experience that women, whether in the home or workplace, tend to be masters of multitasking, putting out small fires as needed, and soothing bruised egos and fragile psyches. We seem well suited to the task of driving change, but not surprisingly, are not well positioned to do so.

According to a slide deck put together for the XX in Health Week, women make up just 14% of healthcare companies’ BODs, and 0% of Fortune 500 healthcare company CEOs.  The statistics are a bit more hopeful when looking strictly at hospitals, according to the recent “Women in the Hospital C-Suite” report from Billian’s HealthDATA:

bhdchart

I’m not sure when we’ll get to female leadership numbers that are acceptable, or who will make that call. It will be nice when, as mentioned in the slide deck, we recognize leaders not by their gender but by their ability to lead.

Health 2.0
Atlanta has its own Health 2.0 movement – a meetup group focused on startups in healthcare IT that is finally getting some momentum. Numbers for female leadership are good. One of three companies that pitched at the most recent event was led by a woman. Brandi March of NovitaCare – a mobile solution that helps patients and the family members who serve as their caregivers manage and coordinate care in one central location – started the company after taking on the role of caregiver for her ailing mother. She described the task of obtaining and organizing her mother’s records, sharing news with other family members, trying to stay organized and trying to make sure six or seven different providers were all on the same page as a “nightmare.” And so NovitaCare was born.

novitacareready

All in all it’s been a good week for women in healthcare. It will be interesting to see if the statistics mentioned above have changed by this time next year. I feel like there are plenty of unsung female visionaries driving healthcare change RIGHT NOW. Please share the story of someone you know via the comments below.

“The Future of Health is Your Smartphone” – How Digital Health is Growing

Posted on December 7, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

While mHealth is growing quickly, consumers aren’t embracing it at the same rate. RockHealth reported that despite there being over 13,000 medical apps available, the mHealth trend isn’t taking off as much as it could be. There is a lot of potential for mHealth, and it truly is the future of health.

The following infograph from mashable.com described what this future for digital health is starting to look like. It also answers the question, “What can mobile do?”, and displays how big mHealth is becoming:

Meta Health Technology Acquired By Streamline Health; Breakthrough, MyHealthTeams, and PatientCo Ink Receive Fundings

Posted on September 20, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Aquistions

Streamline Health announced last week that the company will be acquiring Meta Health Technology, a “leading provider of health information management solutions for hospitals, clinics, physician group practices and long-term care facilities across the U.S. and Canada,” according to Red Orbit.

Streamline acquired approximately $15 million capital stock from Meta Health which was $13.4 million in cash and $1.6 million in Streamline Health Stock. Robert E. Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Streamline Health Solutions, discussed the acquistion:

The Meta suite of solutions, when bundled with our existing solutions, will help current and prospective clients better prepare for this challenge. In addition, the pending release of a computer-assisted coding solution (CAC) will place Streamline Health at the core of addressing the complexities of the ICD-10 transition.

Fundings

Launched in 2009, Breakthrough addresses that fact that one in four Americans suffer from a mental illness. The company is offering a way for users to contact mental health professionals through email or video. It also allows users to find providers based on various criteria including price, specialty, or disorder.

Breakthrough has raised $900k in seed funding from many different investors. The contributors included the following: Ash Patel and Mike Marquez of Morado Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Square COO Keith Robois, Badoo COO Benjamin Ling, Gus Fuldner, PracticeFusion co-founder Matthew Douglass, PayPal Director and former eHealth exec Avery Kadison, Invite Media co-founders Nat Turner, and Zach Weinberg.

MyHealthTeams is a start up that develops communities, both socially and locally, for those who live with or help those with chronic conditions. The startup announced on Tuesday a $1.75 million round today. The round was led by Adams Street Partners, with participation from 500 Startups.

According to TechCrunch.com, MyHealthTeams’ mission is:

To make it easy for people to quickly find and connect with a network of other people who are in a similar position and can understand the challenges faced via its own condition-specific social networks. In addition, members can also easily find referrals of local providers and businesses best suited to help them — and this, presumably, is part of the business model.

The funding is going toward expanding the company.

and finally, Patientco Ink raised $3.75 million in a Series A financing. The round was led by BlueCross Blue Shield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries. In addition, as a result to the financing, the Managing Director of Sandbox Industries, Tom Hawkes, will be joining Patientco’s board of directors.

A press release concerning the financing described Patientco:

Patientco simplifies the challenges of understanding healthcare expenses for patients so they pay their healthcare providers faster. Already more than one million patients across 20 states securely receive, pay and track their healthcare expenses via Patientco. Patientco’s proprietary technology integrates with physician and hospital information systems to provide a comprehensive communication, payment and reconciliation solution.

Sandbox Industries invested in the company to help develop and further Patientco’s solution and “to solve the increasing healthcare payments problem.”

Thank you to Rockhealth.com for putting together a list of fundings and acquisitions each week. Be sure to check out their weekly newsletter!

Predilytics, InCrowd, and Doximity Receive Fundings and Plan to Expand

Posted on September 14, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

FUNDINGS

A Facebook for doctors? That’s what Doximity is being called. It started out as a LinkedIn for doctors, but with the addition of a news feed, it’s turning more Facebook-like. The company recently raked in $17 million series B round fundings. It was led by Morgenthaler Ventures, along with participation from Emergence Capital Partners and InterWest Partners.

This is the second round of funding that Doximity has received, which is when the company grew the most. It is a free, social networking tool that is secure and allows doctors to discuss patients, which cannot occur with regular social networks or text messaging. According to VentureBeat, Doximity

. . . hopes to connect doctors so that they can collaborate on cases, identify the right candidate for a referral, send private messages to each other, converse about the latest research, and gain exposure for their practice. It has experienced rapid expansion and recently announced that one in seven physicians in the United States have signed up.

Be sure to look for big things from this company in the future.

Boston-based startup Predilytics combines machine learning and health care to help health care companies run more efficiently. On September 4th, the company announced that it closed on a $6 million Series A round of funding. Contributors include Flybridge Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Google Ventures.

Gigaoam.com quote Predilytics as describing their services as follows:

Predilytics offers a new approach for generating healthcare insights – applying big data, machine learning technology to create transparent, unbiased business driven results. This approach exceptional predictive models that are 2x to 4x more insightful and actionable than conventional statistical/regression modeling and rules-based methods.

Predilytics plans to use this funding to “further expand its product offerings and grow operations with a focus on analytics, information technology, application development and account management.”

InCrowd allows “pharmaceuticals to survey screened and targeted healthcare professionals in real-time.” The company recently closed a $2.2 million Series A round. The round was let by Nauta Capital.

InCrowd has a database of “pre-screened healthcare professionals.” These professionals have opted-in to being in the database. Pharmaceutical companies can take this database and find doctors that fit the description of who they want to to take their survey, and then a survey will be sent out to them.

Thank you to Rockhealth.com for putting together a list of fundings and acquisitions each week. Be sure to check out their weekly newsletter!

Agile Health, Best Doctors Inc., and Life Image Among Many Companies Receiving Fundings

Posted on September 10, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

FUNDINGS:

Agile Health, based in Nashville, announced that the company has recently raised $2 million. The company created “Kick Buts,” a smoking cessation program. It was built after the company’s starters, Gary Slagle and Scott Werntz, saw research from the UK that showed people were more likely to quit smoking if they were involved in a texting program. The article about this funding didn’t include anything additional information about where the fundings came from, as officials at Agile Health weren’t immediately reachable for comments.

A Nashville-based, mail-order institutional pharmacy, NuScriptRX, announced on August 27th that they closed on a $5 million round of funding. The round was led by Council Capital and Council & Enhanced Tennessee Fund. There were quite a few other investors, including Clayton Associates of Nashvlle, Linwood A. “Chip” Lacy, Jr., and Envest of Virginia Beach, Va.

Best Doctors Inc., a company that “provides proven medical cost containment solutions to employer groups and other parties around the globe,” received a $45 million equity investment recently. The investment came from BBH Capital Partners.

This funding will go toward technology and infrastructure at Best Doctors, and to help hire more employees. According to this article, the company addresses “the issue of misdiagnosis in people and patients getting the wrong treatment. Last year, the company, which has 30 million members, handled close to 10,000 cases in the U.S., where 29 percent of the cases were misdiagnosed.”

Life Image, a healthcare informatics company in Massachusetts, raised $4 million recently. $11.8 million was raised in a Series B financing round recently as well, bringing the total to almost $16 million. There were 13 investors, which included Cardinal Partners, Galen Partners, Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., and Partners Innovation Fund.

The company has cloud-based software that “facilitates transferring, indexing and searching for digital medical images to reduce the time and cost of redundant exams, avoiding excessive radiation exposure for patients using an image transport method with optimal security that is faster and more reliable than the current practice of using CDs and DVDs,” according to Med City News. 

A healthcare software company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, recently completed a $2o million recapitalization. Connecture will now be able to “meet demand for the creation of health insurance exchanges mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as supporting Connecture’s ongoing investments in software innovations intended to benefit the health plan, broke, and insurance exchange markets,” according to a news release.

The investment was led by Great Point Partners LLC, and Chrysalis was listed as a co-investor.

Sequoia Capital recently became the latest backer for Telecare, and with that support, led a round of funding that raked in $25.5 million. Telecare created a new way solution to managing diabetes, which includes a wireless glucose monitor, as well as apps that help family and friends follow the progress of their loved ones who suffer from diabetes.

The glucose monitor was released earlier this year. With this $25 million funding, Telecare plans to expand marketing, sales, research, and development.

Lumosity is a health-game creator that “develops games and exercises that aim to improve core cognitive abilities and enables users to remember more, think faster and perform better at work and school,” according to Tech Crunch. The company received $31.5 million in Series D funding recently. This brings their total funding to around $70 million.

The round was led by Discovery Communications, and other investors included Menlo Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Harrison Metal, and Norwest Venture Partners. The funding will go “towards further research into human cognitive performance, expanding reach and marketing and branding.” Lumosity has more than 40 games in its collection that focus on memory, attention, and problem solving.

 

Thank you to Rockhealth.com for putting together a list of fundings and acquisitions each week. Be sure to check out their weekly newsletter!

$100k Investment for Every Rock Health Company

Posted on August 28, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s been a busy week for the people at Rock Health. First, they had the Rock Health Boston Demo Day. Yesterday and today they’re doing the Health Innovation Summit in San Francisco. And now Rock Health is announcing that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers alongside longtime supporters Aberdare Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and the Mayo Clinic are upping their investment in Rock Health startup companies from $20k to $100k per company.

This is a good move by Rock Health. Just yesterday I was reading a Ycombinator founder describe how the added investment that each Ycombinator company got relieved some of the pressure that was associated with the program. Basically, he could make good long term decisions as opposed to forcing decisions because the funding and time frame were so short. I’m sure we’ll see that in Rock Health as well.

For those interested in Rock Health, they just opened their 3 week application period for their Fall cohort in San Francisco. I assume that they’ll be going back to the 5 month program again after doing only 3 months in Boston.

It’s worth noting that NYDHA (New York Digital Health Accelerator) offers $300k to health startup companies. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of competition to get the best healthcare startups to participate in the various health IT accelerator/incubator programs.

Digital Health Takes Off in 2012

Posted on July 23, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

So far, 2012 has been a good year for the digital health world. According to Rock Health’s weekly newsletter, there is 73% more funding for digital health right now than this time last year. Rock Health created a presentation with their mid-year report, which can be found at the bottom of this post.

Some key findings from the report,  according to the newsletter, that were found in the report included:

-68 digital health companies have raised over $2M

-92 investors

-Common themes: physician tools, sensors, home health, and data

-Bay Area dominates funding, with 28% of overall funding.

There have been some significant deals over the first half of 2012. The report shows that the four biggest deals were:

  1. Castlight Health, which “enables employees to compare costs and quality of healthcare services” received $100 million in funding from T. Rowe Price and Redmile Group
  2. GoHealth, a health insurance comparison website, received $50 million from Norwest Equity Partners
  3. Kinnser Software, which creates web-based software solutions, received $40 million from Insight Venture Partners
  4. AirStrip Technologies, who created a mobile platform that records and receives real-time data from hospital monitoring systems, received $39 million from Sequoia and Qualcomm Life

The digital health industry is definitely on the rise. This reports shows that, and other interesting findings. It will be exciting to see how much the digital health world grows and changes over the next half of 2012

VC Firms Eyeing Mobile Health App Investments

Posted on June 22, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Well, well, well. After years of industry growth and excitement that seems to have been lost on investors, the mobile health app industry has finally begun to attract their notice.

On one level, this is merely the logical,  predictable advance of money into an exploding space. The VCs are already all over the health IT space. According to the National Venture Capital Association, HIT investments shot up 78 percent between 2010 and 2011, reports iHealthBeat.

But there’s also a lot of investors looking for the next paradigm-rattling possibility, including both apps and enterprise tech. Just check out the rapidly growing number of VC-backed health incubators, including  Rock Health, StartUp Health, Blueprint Health and healthbox. (To learn more about the incubators, I strongly encourage you to check out the excellent overview of their business models and focus pulled together by The Health Care Blog.)

And the market is producing plenty of opportunities for them to consider. In fact, the market for mobile health apps could grow at 25 percent annually for the next five years, according to Kalorama Information. I’d argue that 2013 will see more like 50 percent growth, but either way, we’re talking big money.

These days, money from both incubators and VC funds is increasingly going to mobile apps, as the iHealthBeat wrap-up notes:

* AirStrip Technologies, which offers an app allowing doctors to view electrocardiograms on the iPhone, got fu nding from the $100 million Qualcomm Life Fund

* Sharecare, which offers doctors online tools helping them connect with potential patients, received $14 million in a funding round led by Galen Partners.

* Kinnser Software, which offers mobile apps and online tools to help home healthcare providers access and record medical data, got an eye-popping $40 million investment from Insight Venture Partners.

Also check out more healthcare IT investments on EMR Thoughts.

While these numbers are big wins for the startup companies involved, they still represent a small percentage of the overall money chasing good healthcare investments. But I predict that this won’t be the case for long.

With the number of highly practical apps useful in remote monitoring, patient care and even decision support increasing — and the bandwidth available on mobile devices climbing rapidly — I’m betting we’ll hear about dozens of pivotal investments in mobile apps this year.

Am I going to take a guess as to which apps are next? Not yet. But stay tuned and I’ll share overviews of the more interesting apps I hear about along the way.  And please feel free to share the news of great, practical, usable apps you’re seeing out there.