‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Fixing the background technologies on which health apps depend

| April 03, 2014

Developers are flocking to health IT with the laudable goals of making a difference in people’s health (and earning some money in the process). The complex and balkanized field presents numerous barriers to entrepreneurs breaking into the space,   Here are a few of the dilemmas that health reformers face, and that bedevil efforts to provide useful apps and medical devices:

A lot of developers are offering apps or fitness devices. But without rigorous testing (double-blinded experiments) the FDA probably won’t let apps or devices be used for medical purposes, and insurers won’t cover them. Although people obsessed with good health are buying fitness devices and reporting that self-tracking is changing their lives, the people who need intervention the most (such as obese smokers with diabetes) aren’t widely using digital health products.

A full-press clinical research effort on every app or device would be absurd and would shut down innovation. But it’s not right for device manufacturers to bypass the FDA entirely, either. The FDA’s current position is reasonable, if vendors can understand it, but perhaps we can find a more modern approach to testing apps and devices. Crowdsourcing and data sharing may be the key to trusting apps and devices as well.

Rock Health entrepreneur breakdown: female founders

| March 25, 2014

I thought it would be a good time to look into (and publish) data on entrepreneur demographics at Rock Health. The data is interesting. I’ll spread this over a few posts, today’s post will focus on gender.

Looking at the active Rock Health startups, 30% of our portfolio companies have a female founder.

My initial thought was “we need to do better,” so I decided to also look at the application data to get an idea of the supply with which we’re working. In 2013, to my surprise, exactly 30% of the companies that applied to Rock Health had at least one female founder. 19% had a mix of male and female founders, 11% were all female founders, and 70% were all male founders.

All applicants are treated equally when applying to Rock Health. We look at the experience and capabilities of the founding team, along with the sustainability and scalability of the business. We’d love to see more diverse applicants, and have invested quite a bit into supporting women in particular (via our XX in Health initiative).

I think one of the best ways to encourage more women to join us at Rock Health is to show off the amazing female founders we currently support. So without further ado, here are the incredibly bright, inspiring, and hard-working women leading the digital health revolution:

SXSW 2014 digital health roundup

| March 19, 2014|Tags: ,

We’re finally settling down after SXSW, but still buzzing about the ever-growing presence of healthcare at Interactive.  During the bonanza, we scoured the town to reward innovators and disruptors, mingled with our digital health friends, represented Rock Health at three talks on everything from digital health funding to diversity,  and introduced nine of the best companies in wearables to SXSW at our packed SXSWearables showcase.

Didn’t make it to Austin this year? Don’t worry – here’s the roundup.

10 Women Rockstars In The History Of Healthcare

| March 08, 2014|Tags: ,


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…)

8 Wearable Tech Stats To Get You Pumped For SXSW

| March 07, 2014|Tags: ,

SXSW Interactive kicks off TODAY, which means T-2 days until our SXSWearables Sunday Brunch! The geekiest arm of the festival has paved the way for some crazy product launches (Twitter, Foursquare, Storify) and is now the place to get your hands on this year’s hottest gadgets. After CES 2014 unleashed a mainstream frenzy over wearable tech, people are expecting the strap on showcase at SXSW to be bigger and better than ever before. And we’re pretty confident it won’t disappoint.

Here are eight stats on health and fitness wearables we think you should know:

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.

Fuelling change in Australia’s healthcare through technology

| February 27, 2014|Tags: ,

Melia Rayner, Portable Studios

Social change through technology is all around us, in the way we shop, communicate, pay bills and arrange services. So why has the incredibly important area of health been so slow to move in line with the digital economy? Australia has led medical breakthroughs in the past; from the implementation of the first bionic ear in 1982 to the cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine in 2007, but the past few years have seen our healthcare landscape struggling to get further than the ‘middle of the pack’.

Elsewhere, the digital health movement is growing rapidly. In Washington, KitCheck helps hospital pharmacies process medication kits faster and without error, whilst in San Francisco, CellScope has built a smartphone-enabled diagnostic toolkit, including a digital otoscope. Even global magnates have put resources and teams into developing health innovation, such as GE’s Logiq; which is an ultrasound for the whole body, and Walgreens’ Pill Reminder app and Find Your Pharmacist web tool.

All the companies above have capitalised on the need for social change in healthcare through the vehicle of technology. Utilising innovations in technology to solve human problems is behind everything we do at Portable. The point at which culture and technology meet is where social change can really happen. It’s in this mission that our maxim ‘Intelligent thinking first, technology second’ hits home; in the utilisation of technology to support social change rather than commandeer it.

10 things in healthcare that are cheaper than WhatsApp

| February 24, 2014

The technology world was buzzing last week as news of the WhatsApp acquisition spread. Less than two years after acquiring Instagram, Facebook completed the largest venture-backed deal ever.

Safe to say, most people are in shock by the sheer amount that Facebook paid for the messaging app. $19 billion? It’s hard to comprehend exactly how much that is.

We’ve talked about the costs of healthcare before at length (see our digital health facts). Bottom line? Healthcare is expensive, especially in the United States. We spend more than than any other developed nation and that amount will double in the next decade.

We started thinking–what could we do with the money that Facebook spent on WhatsApp? $19 billion only seems small when you look at the U.S. healthcare market! With that money, we could pay for:

There’s a New ‘W’ in Town: Join us for SXSWearables at SXSW 2014

| February 23, 2014|Tags:

One of the biggest emerging trends in tech this year is the popularity of wearables. Wrist-worn activity trackers are the hottest products in the category at the moment, but as wearables’ technologies become more sophisticated and their designs push into new directions, expect to see some exciting new entrants in the space.

From sensors that measure your posture to ears that fulfill your desire to express yourself like a cat (finally), there will be no shortage this year of imaginative new wearables. How do you sort through them all? Rock Health is here to help.

Sunday, March 9th at this year’s SXSW festival, we will be hosting an all-wearables showcase at gastropub, Swift’s Attic from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM. We’re calling it: SXSWearables. It will be a morning of good food, plenty of mimosas and Misfit Shine giveaways, great company, and the most innovative new wearables of 2014.

Featured companies include: