2017 was a record-breaking year by every measure for investment in new healthcare technology, soaring to more than $25 billion according to a report on AngelMD. The breakout year is a continuation of an upward trend, as spending on healthcare innovation steadily climbs year by year. According to Startup Health Insights, funding for digital health startups has grown from nearly $3 billion in 2013 to well over $8 billion in 2016. As efforts to innovate healthcare grow every year, one thing is becoming clear: entrepreneurs, health systems, payors, and investors are all growing increasingly eager to completely transform healthcare.
Although the intensifying focus on healthcare innovation in 2017 by a growing number of organizations is an encouraging sign, the amount of money thrown at a problem isn’t a measure of success. Healthcare consumers and providers alike have yet to experience the transformative impact promised by new technology, while healthcare costs stubbornly continue to rise by about 5 percent every year despite the promise that innovation can curb those costs.
The problem is not a shortage of inventive solutions. 2017 saw a number of headline-grabbing breakthroughs, from reversing paralysis with brain implants to major advances in artificial intelligence. More and more companies are working to innovate care. On AngelList alone there are more than 17,000 healthcare startup companies, with new ideas for healthcare solutions popping up on nearly a daily basis. And last year tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple increased their stakes in the game through major healthcare startup investments and acquisitions.
One reason inventive ideas in healthcare have a hard time trickling down to affect the healthcare consumer is that they face unique hurdles to gaining adoption by doctors and insurers. A revolutionary app or cutting edge medical device could have all the promise in the world, but if it doesn’t get buy-in from providers, administrators, insurance companies, and patients, it will never effect meaningful change. According to a recent research paper by UK innovation foundation Nesta, investment in new healthcare technologies outpaces investment in initiatives to adopt and spread those technologies. The result is an “innovation pile-up,” which compounds difficulties for innovators in finding buyers, and vice-versa—a situation known as “search friction.”
We designed the Smart Health Innovation Lab to help market-ready innovations overcome those hurdles and gain meaningful adoption. There is no shortage of innovation labs that help companies ideate and build new products, but when it comes to crossing the finish line and gaining adoption, entrepreneurs are too often left on their own.
As we prepare to open the doors of our new lab in 2018, we’re planning to help more innovations gain a foothold in the healthcare marketplace. In the process we’ve extensively surveyed the field of healthcare innovation, and here is a short list of five transformative technologies we believe could make an impact in 2018:
Funding amount: $6.4 million
Last Funding Round: Series A
Impact: Operations, Patient and Provider Experience, Data Management
The Company: This Healthcare startup based in Minneapolis is working to bring Electronic Medical Records’ (EMRs) interoperability to health systems nationwide.
The Tech: Sansoro software allows digital health applications and EMRs to exchange real-time data seamlessly. Their team claims that their software can reduce integration time from months to days and that it streamlines workflows, decreases maintenance costs, and minimizes risk.
Why We Like it: EMR interoperability is a major issue that needs to be resolved in order to create a better, more streamlined patient and provider experience. In response, Sansoro Health claims to provide secure, open APIs that shorten integration time, reduce maintenance and development costs, and deliver scalable results.
Funding amount: $44.25 million
Last Funding Round: Series C
Impact: Respiratory Health Management, Outcomes, Patient Experience
The Company: This late-stage venture backed by high-profile investors is making asthma and COPD management easier.
The Tech: The Propeller sensor attaches to most inhalers and syncs with the Propeller app to deliver actionable insights that help patients better manage their respiratory conditions.
Why We Like it: Propeller Health says that its simple solution can turn an existing medical delivery device into a smart device in a cost-effective way and can drive meaningful results, with 79% fewer asthma attacks, 50% more doses taken on schedule, and 50% more symptom-free days.
Funding amount: $13.25 million
Last Funding Round: Series A2
Impact: Patient and Provider Experience, Preventative Care, Chronic Disease Management
The Company: This physician-founded startup uses a big data analytics platform and biosensors to provide remote health intelligence for patients when they’re away from the doctor.
The Tech: The Sentrian Remote Patient Intelligence system uses biosensors and clinician-directed machine learning to remotely detect patient deterioration and reduce preventable hospitalizations.
Why We Like it: This team brings a lot of medical expertise to solving one of healthcare’s costliest problems: chronic disease management and preventable hospitalization. They claim that, by using machine learning to reduce false alarms, their solution helps to reduce the burden on scarce care managers, while keeping patients healthier.
Funding amount: $18.17 million
Last Funding Round: Series B
Impact: Chronic Disease Management, Payer cost curve
The Company: This esteemed AI company is providing personal AI health coaches to help patients manage chronic conditions.
The Tech: Lark’s award-winning AI platform delivers personalized coaching on your mobile phone for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension as well as lifestyle coaching for personal wellness.
Why We Like it: A recent JMIR study revealed that Lark’s AI coaches are as effective as in-person healthcare professionals. The Lark team is partnering with insurers to bring down healthcare costs by improving behavioral health and advancing preventative wellness.
Funding Amount: $13.29 million
Last Funding Round: Series B
Impact: Diagnostics, Outcomes, Operations, Diabetes
The Company: This Florida-based startup is working to improve diagnostics for diabetic retinopathy and end preventable blindness.
The Tech: They offer an end-to-end diabetic retinopathy solution that optimizes diagnostic workflows, enhances diagnostic images with proprietary software, and provides actionable analytics for decision support.
Why We Like it: This end-to-end solution has shown promising results. Iris asserts that its image enhancement software reduced the percentage of ungradable images from 20% to 4% and that, by making diagnostics easy enough for primary care centers to handle, it increased exam rates from 32% to 72% while improving the experience for the patient.
These and other bold, market-ready healthcare technologies could help to transform our healthcare system into one that’s more affordable, convenient, and effective. What they lack is help gaining adoption by providers and reimbursement by payors–preventing them from realizing their potential to effect widespread change. We’re here to help fill that void. If you’re a healthcare innovator with a market-ready product, and you’re struggling to gain adoption, learn about our Smart Health Certification Program here!
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