Author Archive

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.
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How to make wearables work? Digital health coaching.

| September 12, 2014

View More: http://deathtothestockphoto.pass.us/brick-and-mortar

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.”
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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.
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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:

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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.
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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.
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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.
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The lonely universe of autoimmune diseases

| April 10, 2014|Tags:

lonely_blog

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.
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10 Women Rockstars In The History Of Healthcare

| March 08, 2014|Tags: ,

virginia-apgar

Virginia Apgar

Ana Manzur-Allan 

In honor of International Women’s Day,  XX in Health is featuring 10 inspiring ladies in the history of healthcare and medicine. From a Nobel-prize winning chemist who discovered the structure of penicillin to the founder of Planned Parenthood, these healthcare rockstars helped set the stage for disruption then, and now.

Grace Hopper

was not only a Navy rear admiral but also one of the first computer programmers. She drove the transition from crude programming techniques to the use of novel compilers.

Gertrude Elion

a top-notch chemist, was responsible for discovery of over 45 treatments to aid the immune system in fighting cancer, organ transplant, and other diseases. She advanced the development of the drug Perinethol, which became the
first effective treatment for leukemia. (more…)

An entrepreneur’s retrospective on HealthCare.gov

| February 28, 2014|Tags: ,

Rustam Lalkaka, Co-founder of Anapsis

Gallons of ink (pixels?) have been spilled on what went wrong with the rollout of healthcare.gov. As a software engineer who has spent time working on both sprawling, mission-critical projects at Microsoft and building healthcare-focused SaaS at Rock Health-funded Anapsis, here are my two cents.

To draw a bastardized analogy between software development and civil engineering:

1) The White House and Congress have decided we’re going to build a new interstate highway system.
2) It’s going to be ready on October 1st, 2013.
3) All cars are required to use the new roads on that date.
4) An agency that has never before managed a large scale physical infrastructure project is handling the general contracting.
5) Construction is bid out to a firm that is talented in the art of government contracting, but just so-so with the process of building roads.
6) No one really understands how the legacy on/off ramps the new system is supposed to interface with work or how they were built. The engineers decide to wing the integration.
7) Because the road construction is (inevitably) late, there’s no time to try all the different route and merging combinations before October 1st hits.
8) The bureaucrats tasked with oversight don’t know how to drive, so none of this sounds all that concerning.
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