Mobile

Can smartphones solve the healthcare crisis? 4 startups say yes

SAN FRANCISCO- Demo Mobile kicked off this morning with presentations from four mobile health startups. Each of these companies is applying mobile technology to the medical field to give people more control over their bodies, or to streamline the clinical process for physicians.

“Mobile computing is just getting bigger and bigger,” said Demo’s executive producer Erick Schonfeld in an interview before the event. “In health, it started with quantified-self applications, but now we are seeing real medical applications for patients and doctors that are really dedicating to improve alienate and doctor outcomes. They show mobile devices could be a partial answer to the healthcare crisis.”

Nurep

The first company to present was Nurep. Nurep provides medical device support for physicians in the operating room.

“It allows medical device representatives to see more physicians, increase their sales, cover broader geography while traveling less, and it guarantees physicals 24/7 support in the operating room,” founder and CEO Paul Schultz said on stage.

Schultz said there are 50 million support requests a year for medical devices, and the typical rep can only cover 500 cases annually. However, new procedures are best conducted with expert guidance. This is where Nurep steps in. During a procedure, a doctor can request on-demand virtual assistance from medical device representatives. The call acts like a “sonar,” sending out a call until it connects with live support directly in the operating room.

When doctors work with medical devices (such as pacemakers) they traditionally rely on product manuals, previous training and experience, and/or their colleagues for help. Medical device representatives are supposed to provide their expertise, however cost pressures from hospitals, a new medical device tax, and declining reimbursement has caused a decrease in the number of reps, and thus their ability to support physicians. Nurep seeks to bridge this gap.

Wellframe

The second company to present was Wellframe. Wellframe is a “digital concierge” that guides patients with chronic disease through their treatment. Every year, tens of millions of patients are discharged from hospitals without personalized, day-to-day plans for their treatment. This often leads to complications and is expensive for hospitals, insurance companies, and patients alike.

Founder Jacob Sattelmair said during his presentation that Wellframe has developed a system that combines mobile technology with machine learning to support patients towards optimal recovery.

“We translated clinical protocols into personalize, adaptive to-do lists, to simplify the day-to-day of overcoming heart disease,” he said.

The first product targets cardiac patients, who can use the system instead of regularly going on inconvenient or pricey follow-up visits. Tasks are activities like taking medication or getting 15 minutes of light exercise, and the app also connects patients with nurses, case managers, and educational videos when they need it. Meanwhile, Wellframe collects all of the data which medical centers and providers can use to improve treatment.

KinectHealth

While the first two companies target healthcare providers, KinectHealth is a product for people looking to get more exercise. This application serves as a mobile fitness studio. During his presentation, founder Bob Summer said that the technology has three elements to eliminate excuses- it offers “great workouts,” provides biometric feedback, and there are online workout buddies to make the exercise more social and fun. Using a camera, people looking to exercise can choose a particular type of work out, like yoga, dance, or weight lifting. Summer brought a popular YouTube personal trainer named Amanda Russell on stage to demo the application and share her experience.

“YouTube has become this disorganized abyss,” she said. “My videos have received¬†3 million views and I have 65,000 loyal subscribes, but YouTube doesn’t have the same curation or the ability to track your progress and see results in real time. This is the next generation of online fitness.”

Right now, KinectHealth is only available for Windows 8 and can be connected to an Xbox. The motion sensor tracks calories burned and provides the user with insight into how hard they are working out and track their progress. Startups like Wello, GAIN, iPersonalTrainer, and Skimble operate in a similar space.

Kinsa

Kinsa was the final company to present in the health category. The company makes a smart thermometer that seeks to monitor and precent the spread of disease. Founder and CEO Inder Singh announced the launch of an Indiegogo campaign today to help achieve the goal of creating a “real-time map of human health.”

“Kinsa is moving to get info we need to get our families and neighborhoods healthy. We want to individuals the information they need to stay healthy, and help society to track and stop the spread of illness,” he said. If we succeed, we will create a system where data saves lives.”

The Kinsa thermometer takes temperature and then prompts users with cute little icons to list their other symptoms, such as fatigue, cough, cold, or headache. The accompanying application tells you how to avoid getting ill, or how to get better faster if you are already sick. Data is trackable overtime on a simple dashboard and people can immediately connect to clinics, nurses, or urgent care facilities. Furthermore, Singh said that the app has an “illness forecasting feature” that tells you when you (or your kid) is likely to be contagious and get better.

Kinsa also connects this personal data with the outside world. Parents can check the illness at their children’s school and also see the “health weather” in their city. The price is comparable to high-quality thermometers, but Singh said the more that gets raised on Indiegogo, the lower the price point will be.

Digital health is a new and exciting frontier. In 2012, venture capital funding of this sector grew dramatically, with 46 percent more money and 56 percent more deal volume than in 2011. At the same time, mobile technology is literally taking over the world. When these two forces combine, the options are exciting and endless.
The ability of mobile technology to impact healthcare is one of the topics discussed at HealthBeat, VentureBeat’s upcoming health conference.

HealthBeat 2013

Photo Credit: The DEMO Conference


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