Three startups in the digital healthcare field, all participating in Blueprint Health (New York)—a unique 12-week accelerator and coworking space that pairs startups with experienced healthcare entrepreneurs and VCs—presented recently at the April 2012 NJ Tech Meetup.
The startups pitched to about 160 enthusiastic entrepreneurs, developers and VCs who came to network with one another on the Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken) campus, and most NJTechWeekly.com spoke with agreed that this group of startups was quite impressive.
The only presenter with N.J. roots was with InquisitHealth, originally a Secaucus-based company whose founder was born and raised in N.J. The firm is creating a patient information exchange that links people with similar life-threatening disorders with others undergoing the same experience.
“Our company makes this valuable one-on-one communication happen” through actual phone conversations. Making the call through an intermediary like InquisitHealth keeps everyone’s privacy protected, Ashwin Patel, a company founder, said. He got the idea for the startup after his father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and wanted to speak with others who had been through the same ordeal.
Setting up one-on-one conversations for those who have gone on similar journeys is good for hospitals, too, Patel said. Hospitals are not seeing a return on their marketing dollars and have been reluctant to invest in social networking.
He pointed out, however, “We are not building another social network. Instead, we are bringing online and interconnecting the patient support communities that already exist in the offline world. We have developed a web platform that organizes, aggregates, matches, schedules and automatically connects two patients securely and privately.” The company is working with New York-Presbyterian Hospital as its first pilot.
The winner of audience choice kudos was Jeff Novich of Patient Communicator (New York), whose startup portal lets patients access doctors’ offices online “how they want and when they want.” Patients can log in and schedule appointments, select an appointment type and pick a time that works for them, he said. They can also renew prescriptions with one click. “If you have basic questions you want to ask the practice, we have a structured, secure messaging component,” he explained.Novich had watched his father, a physician, try to deal with telephone tag and inefficiency in a small practice, and came up with the idea to help him. The Patient Communicator interface saves time and frustration for office staff and allows doctors to do unique things, like search for high-cholesterol patients who haven’t been seen in a while and send them messages about relevant studies, for example. Reminders are “baked in” so patients return for their checkups.
These conversions translate to money for physicians, and efficiencies allow them to redeploy office staff. Novich said the software can be up and running in 15 minutes and fits seamlessly into the doctor and staff workflow. The company is reaching additional physicians by selling to electronic medical records companies who will use Patient Communicator as their front-end portal. The company is looking for $350,000 in funds to enhance its team.
Tim Soo, cofounder of New York-based Meddik, also pitched. Meddik “organizes content and comments from people who have been through the same health problem as you,” he said.
Soo’s idea also came from a family member’s experience. His mother, a savvy tech professional, pored through online forums for years to find something to help with her dry mouth problem, which had become debilitating to the point that she couldn’t talk. She finally found someone who said a 5-cent breath mint had really helped. She tried the mint and it actually did help her.
“It sucks that this information isn’t being surfaced right now. The web isn’t getting the right information to the right people,” Soo said. Health sites are usually organized by condition, he said, but “your health story is more than just your condition.” Sometimes you are bothered by a symptom, sometimes by a medication or a treatment.
Meddik works by taking comments and people’s descriptions of their problems and assigning them a medical code. The site can then connect users to the research others in their network have already performed. Soo said the company has strategic partnerships with existing trusted medical websites. The firm recently raised $750,000 and is hiring and bringing the platform to mobile.
The main speaker for the evening was Tad Martin, founder and CEO of Collective[i] (New York), a cloud-based marketing analytics platform that automates the work associated with analyzing data and socializes knowledge throughout an organization.