A new Dreamit Health class includes NASA remote monitoring tech, VR for chronic pain

Frank
August 11, 2018
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Dreamit Health’s ninth cohort is underway with seven startups taking on heady challenges from using big data analytics in clinical decision support to address opioid addiction and virtual reality to ease chronic pain. There’s also a new managing director for the program, Adam Dakin. A serial entrepreneur and investor, he has cofounded five health technology companies, including PhotoSonix Medical, which is developing a consumer device for acne.

Another business, Excite Medical, was acquired by Datascope.

Dakin observed that the biggest difference between the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur and what his class members contend with is that the sales cycle for healthcare has become longer and more complex.

“On the front end, what has changed from when I started is that you have to walk through the door with a clear value proposition that links directly to a quantifiable ROI. It is not enough to have the buy-in from a clinician…The clinicians can no longer just pound their fists and get what they want.”

Still, every startup needs a champion from the institution they seek to collaborate with so clinicians still have an important role to play, particularly since they oftentimes will be using the startup’s product.

“I jokingly tell some of our companies that selling starts when the customer says ‘yes’ because now you have a champion that wants to deploy your technology, but they [still] have a long pathway to get signoffs and approvals,” said Dakin.

Entrepreneurs from the cohort sat down for a chat at their shared workspace at 3401 Market Street in Philadelphia.

Ejenta’s team developed remote monitoring technology for NASA to track the health of astronauts on the International Space Station. The company got its start with a grant from DARPA.  Led by Rachna Dhamija, the business developed a predictive analytics tool to detect abnormalities relative to a patient’s medical history, with an eye to chronic conditions. Its technology can also correlate different types of data from wearables such as sleep, weight, activity and blood sugar. It currently has a clinical study with Kaiser Permanente for heart failure and high-risk pregnancies.

Epharmix, another remote monitoring business, uses a series of alerts and interactive messages tailored to each of 24 disease states with the goal of reducing avoidable readmissions. Blake Marggraff, the CEO, said the 2-year-old business started with end-stage renal disease. Its initial goal was to reduce readmissions by 5 percent with better care plan adherence and it claims its product surpassed expectations by reducing readmissions by more than 50 percent. Its work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature. But now that it has built a product and proven it works, Marggraff said his team hopes to get as much mentoring as it can to grow the business.

Macro-Eyes occupies the realm of practice management. It developed a way to solve the problem of frequent cancellations and no shows with machine learning and predictive analytics through a product called Sibyl. “Healthcare is increasingly data-driven but the front door is not,” CEO Benjamin Fels observed.

PAST confronts the pain point of helping doctors identify patients at risk for opioid addiction and substance abuse with the massive challenge presented by disparate data sets that can undermine the ability of doctors to make the best treatment decisions for their patients. The company developed a Software as a Service tool that accesses and cross-references government and private databases to retrieve this information and analyze it to help physicians make better prescription assessments. The business is led by Richard Bunker, who noted an example of patterns its software identifies is when a patient with two different prescriptions for the same medication with refills from different pharmacies. Bunker emphasized that it avoids taking a one-size-fits-all approach with its customers and configures its software based on a physician’s specialty. A setting for a pain clinic, for example, would likely differ from other types of practices. Giving an all clear is as important as raising red flags, Bunker said.

SafKan developed a medical device to automate the process of earwax removal. It resembles a set of earphones but it uses pulsed irrigation and suction in a one-minute procedure and uses disposable pods that capture the wax. “We want this device to do for ears what the Sonic [toothbrush] has done for teeth,” said CEO Sahil Diwan.

Mahmee’s cofounders include a mother and daughter. Melissa Hanna, the CEO said she founded the business with her mother Linda Hanna, a registered nurse certified in obstetrics, to confront America’s alarmingly high maternal risk by improving prenatal and postpartum care management. The goal of the Software as a Service business is to improve health literacy, reduce readmissions and boost breastfeeding rates by transmitting timely, relevant information to users’ smartphones and providing insight from nutritionists, therapists, social workers and lactation experts. One of its partners is AltaMed, Hanna noted. In addition to sending alerts and texts, its platform is also set up for providers to contact members directly.

Karuna’s goal is to reduce chronic pain while avoiding opioids and surgical interventions. Instead, it integrates virtual reality headset into its treatment approach, using visual stimulation and exercise. The company refers to this approach as virtual embodiment training. We are different than other chronic pain management solutions because we rewire the brain from what would be painful movement to be non-threatening,” said CEO and cofounder Lincoln Nguyen. 

As a vendor and consumer of software, Vestorly developed a methodology and a rubric to evaluate any technology we purchase.

A conversation with Sarah Hogan of McDermott, Will & Emery

Frank’s source: https://medcitynews.com/2017/10/dreamit-healthcare-startups/

 

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