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Techstars++ Joins Forces with Mayo Clinic

For those not familiar with Techstars, they are one of the best startup accelerators out there today. You can literally look at the statistics for the startups they’ve invested in on the TechStars stats page. For those not familiar with the startup accelerator model, companies get a small sum of money (usually enough to live for 3 months) and spend 3 months in a city with other startup companies building out your startup company. It’s turned out to be a great model with Ycombinator and Techstars leading the pack and plenty of healthcare startup accelerators following after.

Many of the Techstars companies have been healthcare startups (especially the Techstars Boston classes) and Techstars has just created a new partnership with the Mayo Clinic to help these startup companies even more. It’s called Techstars++ and is launching with the Mayo Clinic. Here’s a description from the announcement:

Techstars++ offers companies from across the Techstars network the opportunity to extend their Techstars experience by spending time on site and engaging deeply with a relevant corporate partner. For example, after completing Techstars, healthcare-oriented companies can spend two weeks at the Mayo Clinic exploring business development opportunities and other synergies. A full time Techstars Program Director will reside on-site and work closely with the startups and the corporation to help maximize the opportunity. There is no charge to Techstars companies to participate in Techstars++.

In the past, I’ve wondered if general tech accelerators like Techstars were the right approach for healthcare startup companies. There’s so much that’s different in healthcare that you need to make sure you have someone who understand the healthcare culture. I still think this is a major challenge for a healthcare startup in Techstars, but this 2 week residency at Mayo Clinic is a good step towards opening customer doors for healthcare startups in these programs. They should then expand the program to include a medium and small size hospital as well. Having those three categories of hospitals on board is incredibly important when launching a health IT company to the hospital world.

December 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Apple Health and HealthKit – I’m Extremely Skeptical

Everyone is buzzing over the latest announcement from Apple at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) that an Apple Health app and HealthKit (for healthcare developers) will be included in the latest iOS release (iOS8). The announcement was a little weak for me because it had already been leaked that the announcement was coming and also because the details of what it will do are really glossed over.

Whenever I hear an announcement without many details I start to wonder if it’s just vaporware right now. I think it is in this case. Instead of Apple offering a healthcare product that they know people need and will use, it feels like they’ve seen the growth of the health tracker and wearables market and they’re just throwing something out there to see if it works.

This HuffPo article compared the Apple HealthKit to what Apple did in iTunes. That’s so out of touch with the reality of healthcare apps. Music is a simple thing (not the rights part, but the usage part) that everyone understands. If you give them the music, then the consumer can go to town with it. Health data is much more complex.

The reality of health data is that it often has little value without some sort of outside expert analysis. This becomes even more important when you start mixing multiple sources of data into one interface like Apple will be doing with HealthKit. Sure, if Apple was focused on making all of the data they collected from all these third parties into smart, actionable data, then I’d be really excited. However, they’re not doing this at all. They’re just going to be a dumb platform that anyone can connect to and the smartest thing it will do is send you a notification. However, the outside application will have to prompt it to even do that.

I don’t think that Apple HealthKit is all bad. Maybe it will make it easier for developers to code their application once and then be able to connect their application to any blood pressure cuff out there. If they can do that, it would provide a lot of value to entrepreneurs in the space. However, it won’t transform health as we know it the way some people are describing it.

I also love people propping up the names of the Mayo Clinic and Epic. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault had some similar names as well. How are they doing? A name doesn’t mean you’ll get a result.

The Epic name is interesting. However, I’m not very confident that bringing one closed garden together with another closed garden is really going to produce a lot of results. I’ll get back to you when I actually see them announce what they’re really doing together. Until then, this just feels like Epic and Apple had dinner together and said that it would be great if they could work together. If they had more, they sure didn’t talk about it on stage. So, I’m skeptical of what will really come out of the partnership.

June 4, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Sodium 101 Helps Combat Excessive Sodium Intake

Whenever we go to the store, my husband meticulously analyzes the nutrition label on the food we buy, specifically looking at the amount of sodium in the product. While it makes shopping take a little longer, I’m glad he does it. Especially after reading this article about how studies are showing that too much salt may trigger certain autoimmune diseases.

But, it’s not always so easy to look at the labels. Yet keeping track of a person’s sodium intake is so important. The Mayo Clinic reports that Americans should have less than 2,300 mg a day (and under 1,500 mg if you are 51 or older,) and the average American gets around 3,400 mg each day. It definitely sounds like a problem to me.

So that’s where Sodium 101 comes in. This is an app created to combat the problem of too much sodium, and help people make healthier choices. It makes it easier to make low-sodium choices, especially when having take out. The app includes tons of features, such as:

  • Tracking sodium intake, specific for your age group
  • Track sodium in packaged food
  • View sodium content of takeout food
  • Listing of over 2,000 food items in popular takeout chains
  • A converter that helps calculate the amount of sodium in any product
  • Track progress
  • Share totals on social networks

Keep in mind, this is an app created in Canada, so not all the information will probably be fit for someone in the United States. However, I think that anyone could make some use of it.  I’m not sure why anyone would want to share their daily sodium totals on Facebook or Twitter, but to each his own I guess.

My sodium intake is actually something I’ve been trying to pay a lot closer attention to when I make meals for my family and me. This app could be really helpful for that, and helping me make better choices. The app has some great visuals though, and it looks nice.

It’s only available for iOS devices, but, it is free. Download it here.

March 14, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Do Financial Incentives Inspire Weight Loss?

It looks like GymPact had the right idea. The Science World Report recently reported on studies from the Mayo Clinic about the correlation between weight loss  and monetary compensation for doing so.

A previous study by the Mayo clinic found that financial incentives can help people lose weight, and that participants that had some kind of financial incentive at stake were more likely to follow a program strictly. An even newer study by the Mayo Clinic found that the participants who did have a financial incentive noticed body weight reduction AND follows weight loss programs more strictly.

So what was at stake? The participatns in the incentive groups were told that, if they achieved their goal of losing four pounds a month, they would receive $20 each month. And, on the flip side, if they didn’t meet the goal, they owed $20. That money went to a pool, and anyone in the incentive groups were entered to win the pool at the end of the study. Sounds pretty similar to the idea behind GymPact.

Steven Driver, M.D., the lead author of the study said:

The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives. The financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence.

I definitely think this study makes sense. I mean, who isn’t motivated by money, or maybe even more so, the potential to lose money? Sometimes I wish I had something like hanging over my head to work out, because I know I would definitely be motivated by financial incentives. It’s definitely interesting though.

I do wonder how many of the people in the incentive groups kept the working out up and the weight off after the study ended and they no longer were motivated by money. While one would help they would still be successful, I have my doubts. It seems like if you aren’t motivated for the right reasons, like having a healthier lifestyle, it could be easy to fall off the wagon if you weren’t worried about losing money.

Regardless, I’m interested to see if any companies will take this idea and try and incorporate it into an app or something, like GymPact has. If it gets people moving, I’m all for it.

March 12, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

RockHealth Selects 10 Start-Ups for Intensive Program Bringing a Surge of Talent to Healthcare Apps

Back in April I wrote about an exciting opportunity with RockHealth who was looking for innovative start-ups to help mentor into leaders of the evolution of mobile apps in the healthcare industry.  That article can be found here.  RockHealth has now selected their 10 start-ups who will begin an intensive five month program.  The full press release can be found below.  I will try and find out more about each of these start-ups in the next few weeks.

SAN FRANCISCO – Ten start-ups have been chosen as part of a development and mentoring program that aims at developing next-generation mobile applications for the healthcare industry.

Rock Health, a seed accelerator for Web and mobile health applications, chose the 10 start-ups as part of its inaugural accelerator program. The chosen start-ups reflect trends that are shaping the next generation of health-related applications in terms of both vertical and origin.

Ideas for transformative tools addressing personal health and patient care were crafted by developers of varying backgrounds, many of whom experienced personal health-related challenges or first-hand professional needs that served as inspiration for their projects.

The selected start-ups are:

  • BrainBot (technology to improve mental performance)
  • CellScope (at-home diagnosis of diseases)
  • Genomera (personal health collaboration)
  • Health In Reach (medical procedure marketplace)
  • Omada Health (clinical treatment social networking)
  • Pipette (patient monitoring and education)
  • Skimble (mobile fitness)
  • WeSprout (connecting health data and community)
  • Three additional startups in stealth mode

Over 350 submitted entries were evaluated by Rock Health’s partners—leading organizations in the technology and health ecosystems, including prestigious Silicon Valley VCs and top-tier hospitals.

The start-ups now enter an intense, five-month program providing funding in the form of a $20,000 grant, infrastructure, strategic medical, branding, communications and legal support, and mentoring from experts  (including the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and Cincinnati Children’s) in design, health policy, lean start-up methodology and finance. 

In addition, Rock Health selected a small group of member start-ups to receive resources and operational support.

Rock Health’s investors include Aberdare Ventures, Accel Partners, the California HealthCare Foundation, Microsoft’s BizSpark and Health Solutions Group, Mohr Davidow Ventures, NEA, Nike, and Qualcomm.

“The quality of applications submitted was outstanding, and the sheer number of ideas we reviewed is testimony to an industry that is only on the cusp of gaining traction,” said Halle Tecco, founder and managing director of Rock Health. “The dominating themes addressed needs in both consumer and professional spheres, showing that the entire health ecosystem has the potential to evolve. We look forward to accompanying these start-ups through to the next phase and, although we were unable to select all qualified applicants, encourage each developer to continue to explore creativity in this sector.”

“Until now, the healthcare and technology spheres have been totally separate. The brilliance of Rock Health is that, for the first time, a surge of talent is flowing into health apps – the same brainy, bold, blue-sky entrepreneurs who brought about Web 2.0,” said Patrick Chung, partner at NEA. “These entrepreneurs see an ailing sector that can be restored more cheaply, easily and inventively than ever before. This inaugural class brings together physicians, Web designers and more than a few yogis to work on cool, diverse concepts. Rock Health is an excitant in a field of infirmity.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Rock Health and engaging in the powerful ecosystem that is being developed,” added Michael Matley, leader in business development and new ventures for the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. “By coupling the passion and innovation of these entrepreneurs, the scaling and business expertise of great investors, and the clinical expertise of the Mayo Clinic, we hope to create solutions to healthcare’s most compelling problems.”

June 3, 2011 I Written By