Author Archive

What entrepreneurs need to know about health insurance tax penalties

| February 05, 2015

Noah Lang, Co-founder and CEO, Stride Health

your subsidy and your taxes.002

A significant portion of the American population will be influenced this spring new tax penalty regulations. It’s predicted that up to six million households will have to pay a penalty not buying health insurance last year. Others will be surprised with a penalty for under-estimating their income when applying for a government subsidy.

How Rock Health helps startups grow

| January 14, 2015|Tags: ,

Kit Check co-founders Tim Kress-Spatz and Kevin MacDonald in their office in Washington D.C. last year

Kevin MacDonald, co-founder and CEO, Kit Check

Earlier this week, Kit Check announced our Series B funding of $12 million led by Kaiser Permanente Ventures. We successfully raised our Series A of $10.4 million in July 2013 after joining Rock Health’s portfolio. In the eighteen months between funding rounds we grew from seven to 144 hospital customers with over 5,000 users on our cloud-based system and 3.6 million medications tracked.

Kit Check represents the only successful Internet of Things success story for hospital consumables to date. We believe it is also the best example of successful cloud software adoption in hospital operations. We are helping hospitals reduce cost and increase patient safety related to medication dispensing and use, which is an important industry contribution. It’s a great story and far from over. One constant throughout has been strong support from Rock Health.

The best way to build a digital health company

| October 20, 2014|Tags:

Alejandro Foung, Co-founder and CEO, Lantern

Last week our team launched Lantern, an online and mobile tool that evaluates your mental health in minutes. Personally, this moment was one of great pride for what our team has been working on for over a year—but also one of anxiety and worry.  (Luckily, we now have an app for that). Will people actually buy our product?  Will anyone even notice?  If people buy it, will they continue to use it?

Founders in any industry ask themselves these questions every day, so these aren’t novel feelings.  But running a startup in healthcare adds an additional layer that’s even more important than the fundamentals of your business and market opportunity: will user health actually improve? And will it be significant enough to publish results (i.e. through a randomized controlled trial)? I believe most digital health companies fail to get off the ground trying to answer this. It’s much easier to get someone to buy something than it is to get them to buy something AND also prove to the scientific community that your product is effective.

How to make wearables work? Digital health coaching.

| September 12, 2014

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Steph Habif and Glennis Coursey

Over the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion of companies working to scale digital health coaching. Rock Health specifically has seen a number of exciting announcements in 2014.

In February, MyFitnessPal announced the acquisition of Sessions. Omada Health completed a Series B funding round of $23 million in April. In May, Weight Watchers acquired Wello, and Kurbo Health announced that it raised $5.8 million to “use digital health coaches to help fight childhood obesity.”

Apple watch and activity trackers’ day of reckoning

| September 11, 2014

Jonathan Palley, Co-founder and CEO, Spire

Activity trackers died and were reborn on Tuesday. With the Apple Watch as well as Jawbone’s announcement that its apps will work with anyone’s hardware (which follows a similar announcement from Misfit), wearable activity tracking is no longer a product—its a feature.

What’s a wearable activity tracking company to do?

Jawbone and Misfit’s answer has been: platform! Wearable-donned people can use their app anywhere while the companies bring all of the user data onto their server. History is not on their side. All the great platforms in technology—from Windows, to iOS to Facebook and even to Google’s ad network—started out with a core technology/business that no one else could replicate. Then came the platform. While we can argue over which activity tracking app is best, the difference and the technology is minimal.

4 critical debates for doctors from Health Innovation Summit 2014

| August 27, 2014|Tags:

HISUM panel

Emily Peters, Vice President, Marketing Communications, Doximity

Two days of dynamic conversations at Rock Health’s 2014 Health Innovation Summit covered nearly every topic in medicine; from robotics to HIPAA reform. The packed audience included the big names you’d expect from Silicon Valley VC investor groups, payers, tech companies and health systems. On the physician side, this was the first year that someone from the AMA attended and there were a handful of physicians in the audience.

Of course, not every busy clinician could to make it out to the #HISUM conference, but thankfully, it’s not too late to join the conversation. Here’s four debates from HISUM that every physician should join:


Healthcare needs lean management

| June 20, 2014

Kevin MacDonald, Co-founder & CEO, Kit Check

Is healthcare in the United States inefficient? The answer is a pretty obvious ‘yes’ if you’re up to speed with the state of healthcare economics. At Kit Check, we started a company on the premise that hospital pharmacy operations are inefficient. Digital health startups often struggle not because their innovation falls short, but because they can’t overcome institutional resistance to change.

We recently surveyed pharmacy directors from over 600 hospitals across the US to determine how they thought about improving operational efficiency. The data was encouraging. Traditional resistance is shifting to institutional support.

No one expects lean management in healthcare
In hospital pharmacy, discussions tend to focus on new drug therapies, complex pharmaceutical interactions and identifying substitutes for drugs on shortage. You can imagine how surprised we were that 78% of the 600 hospital pharmacies surveyed were using Lean Management in select areas and 37% consider it part of their core philosophy.

HIPAA for dummies

| June 13, 2014|Tags: , , ,

We sat down with attorney-turned-entrepreneur Chas Ballew to get his take on what HIPAA compliance means for digital health companies. Catch Chas at CES’ Summer Summit Health Innovator’s Bootcamp dropping knowledge on HIPAA and everything startups need to know about working with patient data.

What do healthcare startups need to know about HIPAA?
HIPAA is the federal regulatory scheme that protects the privacy and security of patient health data. Not every digital health startup is subject to it, but most are. And nearly all of the really interesting, high-impact data is regulated.

The most important thing for a startup is to make something people want, which likely means working with that high-impact data. Startups need to experiment and iterate to find out what works and what doesn’t, so access to data is key.

A digital health entrepreneur’s thoughts on HealthKit

| June 03, 2014|Tags:

This morning, Apple made its much-anticipated move into healthcare with HealthKit (aka, the formerly rumored HealthBook.) With a typically dissonant and ever-growing ecosystem of health apps, devices and data, digital health needs a major player to enter to integrate these products and tools. We’re excited about what the largest company in the world is capable of doing for digital health. Here’s some perspective on what a seasoned digital health entrepreneur had to say about today.

Aaron Rowe
HealthKit is really exciting. Putting all of this information in one place, in a gorgeous app that will reach a ton of people, could do wonders for public health. But it won’t do much good if the on-screen content is designed without input from people who deeply understand health metrics. It looks like Apple or one of its partners made some technical mistakes on a slide that was shown during the big reveal of their new health app.

The lonely universe of autoimmune diseases

| April 10, 2014|Tags:


Dr. Bonnie Feldman

How would you feel if, after years of searching for a diagnosis you finally found out you have an autoimmune disease, and then you realize that your doctors will have to experiment on you to find the right treatment?

That’s the state of the art today in autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, lupus, and MS.

At least 50 million Americans (twice the number of cancer patients) suffer from autoimmune diseases. Each of the 90 or more named diseases is represented by a variety of stakeholders, (patients, specialists, researchers), with little sharing of data across groups, and even less across diseases.