#MedMo16: finalists, winners, and what they tell us about the state of health tech

click to enlargeHaving attended two conferences in the past two weeks, and squinting to read the tea leaves in the cup, there are some trends that this Editor is picking up. They are quite different from what has been seen over the past year or two. They’ll be expanded on in articles to follow. From the top:

  • Successful companies fit into a bigger picture. Startups into early-stage companies, which were the focus at #MedMo16, are now playing the niches like genetics, patient-focused discovery, condition management and cost-effective specialized clinical innovations.
  • Anything that simplifies a process and saves money is attractive. Complex ‘big data’, analytics and ‘population health/integration’ solutions aren’t in the lead anymore because there are a lot of them and they all look alike.
  • Nothing is revolutionary. The idea that an app, device or software will ‘revolutionize healthcare as we know it’ is now recognized as absurd. (The cocktail/drinks party is ovah!) Cases must be proved first, usually on your self-funded or FFF (families, friends and fools) dime, if you want to partner with the Big Dogs.
  • Value-based care, this year’s darling, is already being seen as a vague ‘catch-all’ in a way that Triple Aim and ‘outcomes/evidence-based care’ were eventually found to be. As a meme, it’s turning out to have the life of a fruit fly.
  • It has to be easy to access, preferably on something the average patient or clinician already has or can acquire easily, like a laptop, tablet or smartphone. The idea of having to place a special purpose-built device in, let’s say, a home, is looking more and more ‘analogue’ indeed, a trend we are seeing in the traditional hub-based telehealth market and even slowly in telecare and traditional PERS.
  • Funding models are changing, with more bootstrapping, self-funding, expand you go and less emphasis on big investment and selling out fast. As funders on a NYeC DHC panel pointed out last Wednesday, don’t raise more – or less – than you need.

At #MedMo16, Crowd Challenge participants were judged by a combination of the interested MedStartr/Health 2.0 NYC community through the MedStartr funding platform, and then by a panel of judges who have leading clinical, technological, patient advocate and funding experience. In short, a group that has seen a lot over the past decade plus, has been up and down the Hype Cycle, and is down to Brass Tacks.

The innovations that bubbled up through the finalists were all engaging (see the edited YouTube video for their presentations). According to MedStartr founder and head Alex Fair, “We find that companies that engage patients, providers, partners, institutions, and investors create a wave of momentum that helps them succeed over 40 times more often than those that don’t.”

An example was Crowd Choice winner Mymee. Three years ago, this Editor would consider it unfundable in the prevailing market. It didn’t target a broad ‘wellness’ market and do sexy things like fitness. It wasn’t a wearable. Mitigation of a relatively rare but severe and debilitating chronic disease like lupus doesn’t make for great chatter over drinks. Yet “Using the MedStartr platform, the team raised interest from over 107 people who offered to try, pilot, partner, mentor, and invest in the idea. This allowed them to raise over $115,000 in mere days.” according to Mr Fair.

Let’s give a round to the four runners-up and then to the category winners.

Runner Up: RxBandz – wearable emergency auto-injector bracelets for those with life-threatening allergies, diabetes or if they are at risk for opioid overdose. Two-thirds of those at risk do not keep their auto-injector with them. Delay can equal death.

Runner Up: MediVis – augmented reality for diagnosis, medical education, surgery, and patient education. Medical imaging data in 3D real-world space.

Runner Up: Simple23 – Genetic Data Exchange and test ordering made simple. Physicians can order, track, and manage advanced lab tests from anywhere at any time.

Runner Up: Lazy – a quality measure reporting API to help EHR companies who sell to hospitals and healthcare practices offer faster quality measure reporting and submission.

Category winners:

Medical Device/Wearable Health Tech: Ceeable – a cloud based eye exam that replaces traditional high cost alternatives. A visual field test on a tablet that can detect, classify and monitor degenerative eye disease.

Population Health, Payers 2.0 and Pharma Tech: EllieGrid – medication management optimized for patient convenience and affordability. A really smart pillbox that makes refilling, reminders and dosing easy.

Clinical Innovations: Haystack – Proteome molecular profiling for earlier diagnosis of cancer. It screens for many kinds of cancer from blood with one test rapidly and economically through panels of biomarkers.

Patients Choice Award: Aloha Health – Enabling patients as partners in their healthcare through analytics, connection, experience, & engagement. (See our guest columnist article for more on Aloha.)

Crowd Choice Award: Mymee – Simple tracking and health coaching for complex problems, to gain understanding of non-clinical lifestyle triggers by both clinicians and patients. Their current focus is auto-immune diseases like lupus, complex, chronic and incurable–which are usually treated by medication first. Their initial observational study on 23 lupus patients found that with Mymee tracking/coaching, 100 percent experienced an increase in their quality of life, 50 percent reduced their pill burden and they’ve had success in 72 percent of cases.

The Crowd Challenge winners will be further evaluated for a MedStartr Ventures potential investment, in exchange for equity in the company, a change from the previous grant model. And this presages also an alternate means of distribution. There were 180 attendees, which is good for a NYC-centric event, but far more viewing on 12 hours of livestream and YouTube, where there is over 12 hours of video content (see youtube.com/medstartr or facebook.com/medstartr). Twitter: 559 people tweeted 3,584 times making over 22 million impressions online.

Thanks to Mr Fair and the MedStartr team. A special hat tip to @tiffanyandlupus in conversation at #DHC16 and my former colleague ‘Red’ for enlightenment on living with lupus.

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