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  • Calling All Startups! Pilot Health Tech NYC is Looking to Fund Your Digital Health Pilot

    Submit Your Joint Application by 12/18!

    Pilot Health Tech NYC is a marketplace for digital health solutions. Administered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with Health 2.0 and Blueprint Health, the program connects technology companies and prospective clients through matchmaking, technical assistance, and competitive commercialization awards that can defray the costs of pilot projects.

    First launched in 2013, Pilot Health Tech NYC is now a one-stop shop that allows hundreds of entrepreneurs, healthcare leaders and others to buy and sell digital health technologies that will improve clinical care, lower costs, boost consumer wellness and more. Through the program, NYCEDC and Health 2.0 will have facilitated over 500 introductions between tech companies and potential clients, creating over 110 jobs and collectively raising approximately $170 million.

    You have the opportunity right now to apply for a commercialization award! Applications are due one month from today (12/18) and funds will be awarded to pairs of Hosts (hospitals, physician clinics, payers, pharma companies, etc.) and Innovators (health technology companies). $1,000,000 in commercialization awards will be available to winners over the next three years.Winners will also receive expert assistance, recognition, and the opportunity to be featured on the main stage of Health 2.0′s conference in front of a multitude of digital health leaders. If you are an innovator or a host company, make sure tosubmit the joint application form to apply to the Pilot Health Tech NYC Funding Program by December 18, 2015!

    Pilot Health Tech NYC will be hosting a Q&A webinar on 12/1/15 at 12PM ET to answer your questions on the funding program and the joint application process. Make sure to register for the webinar.

    With healthcare on the national agenda and New York City’s technology sector growing strong, there is tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies to use technologies to tackle healthcare issues and defray the costs of pilot projects. Pilot Health Tech NYC encourages innovators and host companies to submit joint applications by 12/18/15 and get ready to improve the healthcare system! Remember to register for the Q&A webinar for your chance to ask questions about the funding program and get details about the application process. You can also direct your questions to

    The Kind of Selfie That Saves Lives

    I am not a fan of selfies. I view them as the epitome of our age’s selfish abomination. That is unless I’m taking one of myself or my friends on a personal occasion of course; Then it is extremely cool and I know that because a large statistically irrelevant number of people will Like it on my Facebook or Twitter profile.

    Last week a gentleman by the name of Steven Keating convinced me that the problem is not with the concept itself, but perhaps the way we approach our new abilities to document data about ourselves. The Selfie concept, as it turned out, literally saved Steven’s life and made him a phenomenon in the world of healthcare innovation.

    Steven Keating

     Steven’s talk at Exponential Medicine 2015

    It was the end of a very full mind-bending day at Exponential Medicine, when I was sitting in the Press room wrapping up work and I was told that I could interview Steven Keating who had a slot free up. I Googled him and it seemed like he was my age, with double the number of titles. He is a PhD student at MIT doing a lot of amazing projects involving additive fabrication (including manufacturing using a blend of biology and 3D printing techniques).

    I was immediately intrigued and grabbed the interview spot.

    A few minutes later, Steven walks in with a large suitcase full of 3D printed models of the human skull, tiny brain cut sections and a bunch of other toys. After a warm smiling welcome, Steven put all his objects on the desk and asked me:

    “So what would you like to talk about?”

    “Bio-fabrication” I quickly said, eyeing all the printed toys he had on the table.

    “Finally! Someone wants to talk about what I do!” Steven sounded puzzled and excited “Everyone else just wants to hear my story”

    “Wait, what is your story?”

    I was glad I asked because in the next 15 minutes, Steven recounted the almost miraculous history behind his fight against a frontal brain cancer. A story that gave me the most profound insight about what the future of healthcare could be, from a guy who has no healthcare experience at all.

    In 2007, curiosity led Steven to volunteer for an fMRI study. In addition to the $50 incentive, Steven also got his data back which showed a faint greyish area on his left lobe that remained constant when it was checked again 3 years later.

    In the summer of 2014, Steven noticed a faint vinegar smell. After realizing that it may be his smell center in his brain, he gets a scan a month later and a whopping large Astrocytoma tumor aggressively occupied about 10% of his brain!

    To make sense of this, he printed models of his skull, plastic replicas of his tumor, and got himself very engaged in understanding his condition and explaining it to other people. Driven by this idea, Steven sought to gather as much data as he could from clinical data, participating in research studies, and generating his own data. Data ranging from: Having his brain surgery recorded, doing a microbiome (gut bacteria) analysis before, during and after chemo, and even 2HG spectroscopy studies to see if the tumor is still active.

    Steven posted all of that on his website, and used this data to make his own decisions as a patient, and communicate it to others to advance care and research. He quickly became a patient advocate speaking to others going through similar cancer conditions.

    Watch the following quick 30 second clip of Steven’s full blown medical “Selfie” from the outside of his brain, into his skull, to the histopathology of the tumor and down to a graphical representation of the point mutation which caused the cancer.

    This is quite phenomenal. Take a moment to consider this: What might your version of a Selfie look like?

    “The process of getting this data was extremely hard, even though any of my doctors can have a nice representation of all my data through the click of a button. On the other hand, I needed to ask, wait and then I get it in the form of CDs and PDFs in the mail.” Steven told me sounding frustrated, “I mean, I don’t even have a CD player!”.

    That video really got me thinking, because it was a run through of anatomy, physiology, surgery, histopathology and genetics all through a personalized lens, which brought the case to life. What if I were taught in medical school that way? I thought. What if patients are educated with such granularity about their conditions? Would it not be a richer more engaging experience?

    This is what motivates Steven to go and talk to these patients, to help them gather and make sense of their own data. He is also combining it with his passion for fabrication, by working with his research colleagues at the MIT Media Lab, the Wyss Institute, and with his hospital on the idea of printing these 3D models with variable gradient material properties to be able to bring a real feel of the body part being discussed.

    Steven is very optimistic and has commented on the specific part of the new Meaningful Use (MU) guidelines requiring all Electronic Medical Records to have an API by 2018, which means that theoretically there will be a standard for medical data upon which we can build apps and share as we wish.

    In Steven I found a role-model for two futuristic personas: A curious patient that drives healthcare decisions by data, and a young maker that can inspire healthcare design and engagement.

    Even though the average patient does not have Steven’s tools or knowledge, getting all this data should not be challenging to begin with. The best way we can push healthcare to provide us with more of our own data, is by simply being as curious about our medical “Selfies” as we are about the number of likes our social media selfies are getting. One of them can save us, while the other enslaves us.

    I then interviewed Steven about the future of Bio-fabrication but that is a different upcoming article. Stay tuned to Health 2.0 News!

    Watch Steven’s full TED talk below.

    Announcing the Winners of the Innovating for the Underserved Challenge

    Today, we know that where an individual lives, their food choices and even their ability to communicate with providers and caregivers can play a significant role in their health outcomes. The health technology sector is growing at a remarkable rate but there is often a disconnect in getting these new technologies to the appropriate parties, like large health organizations. It is crucial to the continued advancement in health technology that partnerships are formed between key healthcare stakeholders and the startups looking to transform the system. These partnerships allow for the investment of time, money and effort needed for new innovations to be developed to their full potential. The Aetna Foundation believes that these issues can be addressed with innovations in health technology, and launched the Innovating for the Underserved Business Plan Challenge to help spur innovations for underserved communities and to further foster their growth and development.

    This past summer, Aetna Foundation, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT Collaborative) came together in partnership to crowdsource and leverage IT innovations with potential to reduce disparities in health among underserved and minority communities.

    The two-phase challenge sought creative business proposals of new or redesigned technologies that provide access to services and healthcare information to underserved communities. Teams were asked to submit solutions that addressed one of three concentrations:

    • Access to Services
    • Childhood Obesity
    • Connecting Data between Systems

    During Phase 1 of the challenge, 108 individuals entered and 35 teams submitted a proposal for consideration. . Four teams were given the finalist award of $5,000 and advanced to the next phase. The teams detailed their business plans and pitched their concepts video to compete for $60,000 in prizes.

    After careful consideration, Grupo Parada and FoodCare were selected as the winners, and Let’s Epicure as the runner-up. Their solutions address crucial challenges to underserved populations like cultural communication and language barriers in health; promotion of food literacy to mitigate child obesity and manage chronic diseases; and helping consumers and patients make smart and affordable decisions about their diets.

    Grupo Parada:

    Grupo Parada creates an effective cultural communication channel where the focus is not information about disease and death, but rather positive messages that help shape behaviors and modify attitudes toward food, lifestyle and exercise. Grupo Parada wants to turn prevention into the best possible medicine for the underserved Hispanic community. Patients build relationships with health providers in the same ways they do with other people: through ongoing interactions, establishing trust and mutual benefit and value. As digital channels continue to evolve, so do the audience’s options for engagement.



    FoodCare is a leading provider of advanced clinical nutrition guidance solutions. FoodCare’s Nutrition Insights technology translates the nutrition data of any food item to the personal needs of an individual based on their anthropometric profile, weight management goals, food preferences and chronic diseases and disease stages. The FoodCare system was developed for over two years in close partnership with leading health associations and institutes. Clinical nutrition guidance is fully automated for a variety of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, liver diseases, bone diseases and many additional conditions.


    Let’s Epicure:

    Changing eating habits is hard. Existing products aren’t much help. They require you to count calories, log food journals, and buy specialty foods. Epicure makes it easy to change your eating habits. The technology automatically analyzes your online receipts and recommends healthier options. All you need to do is log in, and the system automatically handles the rest. The Epicure team is comprised of Cornell graduates from business, engineering and connective media fields who are inspired and driven to make a lasting impact in health and wellness.


    The technologies and business plans that emerged from this competitive challenge showed innovation, understanding and sensitivity to each target population.



    The NHIT Collaborative brings together private, public and community partners to bring health IT solutions to underserved communities in an effort to reduce disparities and give every individual the opportunity to attain optimal health.  For additional information on the 2014 roundtable that developed this challenge, please click here.

    ABOUT Department of Health and Human Services

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the U.S. government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.  Their work reaches Americans in nearly all areas of health and wellness, in rural and urban areas, and across all stages of life.

    HHS is responsible for almost a quarter of all federal outlays and administers more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined.

    About the Aetna Foundation

    The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET).  Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $445 million in grants and sponsorships. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered 3.4 million hours since 2003. For more information, visit


    3 Insights from Health 2.0 Fall Conference 2015

    Being a digital health enthusiast, the Fall Health 2.0 Conference is like a sacred pilgrimage I take every year into the minds of the heroes of healthcare, who are trying to rid the healthcare system of its sicknesses.

    The sheer number of sessions can be overwhelming, but here are a few insights from the 9th version of Health 2.0 in 2015, which came with a fresh flavor of vendor maturity.

    1-  Digital Health is moving towards becoming its own industry

    Indu Subaiya’s savvy, real-time text-based poll of the audience showed that more people feel that the digital health “revolution” is becoming its own digital health industry. (It also indirectly proves that SMS is by far, the most engaging tool).

    Matthew Holt’s keynote built on that idea by highlighting how Health 2.0 is going into the mainstream. As he noted in his keynote, “It is time to create a model that ensures that all of our great work can thrive and survive.”

    This was strongly reflected in the sessions and exhibition hall, where companies moved from cool toys to functional platforms and audience questions went from “What is this?”  to “How will it fit?

    Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.45.15 PM


    2-  Regulation, ROI and Culture are why customers buy technologies

     This mainstream movement is contingent on technologies going from experimentation to adoption, and for that, Matthew invited to his keynote one of the most knowledgeable people on the topic: Michael Millenson.

    Michael and Matthew outlined that what generally makes technologies useful in healthcare is a move towards transparency, more “meaningful use and a better healthcare experience. But in health care, there is often a disconnect” between what is good for the patient and what providers will buy.

    So what will make providers buy your app or solution? Well…according to Matthew and Michael three things:

    a.   Regulation: They have to buy it

    The recent history of adoption of EMRs following the 2009 HITECH law did not only bend the market in EMR vendors’ favor, but the government itself paid for providers to buy the products. However, those who got that money needed to show “meaningful use” (MU) of the EMRs. Those regulations paved the way for companies to sell services to the same providers that met the MU criteria.

    Is healthcare any more efficient because of all that? Well,  most providers are frustrated with the technology and few patients own their own data, so maybe that is not the best way to stimulate efficiency.

    b.   ROI: Making your customer richer

    Using the example of Disease Management services in the late 90s, Matthew outlined how ROI can be more theoretical than practical, as the Medicare Health Support Study deemed most of those services were worth very little after everyone had bought them.

    This makes it imperative for us to be able to “make sure that the ROI studies are done with proper math and validation” said Matthew, alluding to the Validation Institute, which certifies companies for just that.

    c.   The product promotes the mission or culture of the organization.

    “Information technology medicine is becoming  [all of] medicine,” said Michael, talking about the new, modern and perhaps greatest development in the Health 2.0 movement where providers are looking for ways to do what is best for the patient as opposed to looking for hard ROI to rationalize patient safety and well-being.

    Check out my one-on-one interview with Michael Millenson here, for more in depth insights on what makes technologies get adopted successfully.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.46.59 PM

    Michael Millenson (Left) and Matthew Holt (Right) giving a thought provoking Keynote

    3- Data continues to tie it all together

    On the last day, 9 different entrepreneurs were interviewed by Indu about how they leverage data in many different fields. A common thread was that great things happen when we merge different data sets together which do not represent medicine, but actually represent life.

    A great example was given by Dr. Jay Bhatt from the Illinois Hospital Association which gathered data about those Chicago addresses where children tested for lead showed the most lead in their blood. They added a layer about environmental and birth data then integrated that successfully into the EMR.

    Now, Chicago clinicians can anticipate lead poisoning in a proactive way for the first time using data that has already existed for years! Can we apply this method to all aspects of healthcare? Andy Krakhov, Associate Director of the California Health Care Foundation certainly thinks so. “Finding, analyzing and aggregating this data has certainly become easier and faster than any other time,” he told the crowd on Wednesday morning. “Tying emotion with data to tell a story and make it useable is the current challenge.”

    As Health 2.0 moves towards its 10th Anniversary, many ideas are recurring every year with greater power. Customers are learning about how to validate technologies using proper science, data crunching tools have become much faster while consumer engagement and leveraging data in a story still remain, depending on your viewpoint, either major challenges or colossal opportunities.

     Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.37.09 PM

       Interactive data visuals make public health datasets usable for providers

    Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.42.34 PM


    Chicago’s lead poisoning problem – owned!

    What Makes Healthcare Providers Buy? A Conversation with Michael Millenson

    Michael Millenson started off his Health 2.0 Keynote by explaining how Harvard-trained surgeon Dr. Ernest Amory Codman had the bold idea of giving individual hospital outcomes information to consumers back in 1913. Unfortunately, he was quickly ostracized from the community, but Codman’s tenacious advocacy laid the groundwork for the outcomes-based approaches we are developing today.

    Millenson Informal Photo

    The Health 2.0 Fall Conference is a place where you can bump into the superstars of healthcare innovation and discover how approachable most of them are. I was so fortunate to chat with  Michael, a guy whose unique efforts caused National Public Radio to call him “in the vanguard of the movement” to measure and improve American medicine.

    Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age,” and is an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also President of Health Quality Advisors.

    Despite his accomplishments, Michael surprised me with his willingness to share his knowledge and ideas about healthcare technology. Instead of going to a session as he had intended, Michael graciously shared his time and thoughts while we had coffee and fresh fruits on the outside terrace on a crisp, sunny morning in Santa Clara.

    Omar Shaker: What are some of the important criteria an entrepreneur should think of when developing or deploying technology for a provider?

    Michael Millenson: I’ve worked with many providers before, and I think the number one thing they say is, “Don’t mess my workflow, don’t make my life worse!”

    This wasn’t the case with adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs), because the whole health care system was changing and there were millions of dollars being paid by the government but generally speaking, interfering with workflow is a deal killer.

    The app that a vendor brings in to me today is different. It’s probably giving me the capability to do something I don’t absolutely have to do, and so first thing is doing no harm to my workflow or my organization’s workflow that could negatively impact morale and revenue.

    If you build on that, on “first do no harm,” then how does your product integrate into my EMR? Who has to use it? How do I use your dashboard and what do I do with that information?

    OS: So how can an organization assess if it does, in fact, need that information?

    MM: Illinois Hospital Association chief health officer Dr. Jay Bhatt’s example we heard in this morning’s session was perfect, talking about using data to track down cases of lead poisoning in Chicago. He he didn’t just tell you as a provider where the lead poisoning cases were and how he found them, but that there was a law in Chicago where kids had to be tested for lead poisoning. So that tells me if I am a provider, having the ability to generate this data fills a specific need for me.

    The lesson here is to examine whether your product fulfills a regulatory need or can make use of data that comes from regulation. Then one level further is, “Does this product have an ROI (return on investment)? And what level of priority does it have for my potential customers?

    If you were to sell a solution that would help hospitals reduce their readmissions a decade ago, no one would have bought it! Now that there are regulations and a direct ROI, every institution has made reducing readmissions a high priority.

    OS: How do providers choose between all the different, ever-expanding list of digital health vendors?

    MM : There are 2 things to think about here: Does the digital health product really perform the way that’s promised? And then, does the solution scale? Will it work for different patient populations, doctors and complicated cases?

    At the end of the day, patients are different and are complex. There are all sorts of social, adherence and financial issues that get in the way. And so the 40-year-old married secretary who works for a Fortune 500 company in Chicago may not react the same way as the single mother in Reno, Nevada.

    OS: If you’re a provider choosing a solution, how can you know if it will work well for you?

    MM: Proof of concept data, pilot projects and white papers are all important, but I think the most critical way to assess a technology is to simply talk to the people who have used it before. Digital health solutions aren’t new drugs, and you don’t need a randomized control trial.

    I’m very big on site visits and talking to people. I think nothing can replace that, but, at the same time, something may work in one environment and not work in another. “Know theyself.”

    OS: You are one of the veterans on this nascent industry, how do you think it has changed and where do you think it is going?

    MM: I would say 80% of the apps we’ve seen this year at Health 2.0 sound and look really great. The interface and ease of use really count. However, some solutions that look great don’t work as well when you kick the tires.

    Unfortunately, some solutions have not gone beyond the “great screenshot” concepts of the early 90’s. Having said that, the industry has matured and become more sophisticated and realistic. I am very encouraged by what I see.

    Today’s digital health vendors are trying to solve critical problems, and are involving those who understand those problems, including patients, patients’ families and physicians. They are more sensitive to workflow issues.

    The industry is maturing, and I think as the technology evolves, our expectations for reliability, scalability and effectiveness will evolve, as well.





    Empathy-based technology, the Cleveland Clinic way

    “Is this seat taken?” I asked as I fumbled to find a seat with my ‘signature healthy lunch’ in hand and with the breakout session just about to start. “No, I saved it for you” said a particularly fit and healthy woman, who shifted her gaze away from her laptop and gave me a warm smile you could only expect from a decade long friendship.

    Turns out that woman is Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, a neurologist and a huge supporter and pioneer of harnessing the power of empathy in healthcare. No wonder talking to her was such a breeze! I got a chance to ask her a few questions about how technologies are being chosen in the Cleveland Clinic.

    Unlike most people I interview, she started off by asking me about what I do, why I left medicine, and what excites me about technology. Adrienne radiated empathy, and after my first question, it was apparent that it was one of her professional success factors too.

    “Patient relationships are therapeutic, and when all else fails in health care it will be the only thing that survives” Adrienne says to the crowd at the famous Unmentionables session at Health 2.0 2015

    Omar Shaker: What is the process you go through when adopting a technology at Cleveland Clinic?

    Adrienne Boissy: I think the paternalistic idea of thinking that we, the doctors, know what is best for the patients, is outdated. If we are saying that we want to improve the experience for the patient, then the patient should be a huge part of the process that decides what will work versus what doesn’t.

    OS: You let the patients decide?!

    AB:Yes! Why not? It’s going to impact the people we serve the most after all. We have patient surveys and patient advisory councils, but more importantly, we add patients to our working groups and have them co-create with us.

    This has been especially helpful with chronic disease care path development. How can we provide diabetes care? COPD management? Asthma care?

    Patients these days also don’t just want their care through the traditional appointment. They’ve told us they want access anywhere, anytime. In response, we’re using technologies that allow for appointments via a smartphone app, online second opinions, and through specialized health kiosks at convenient locations.

    The patient’s perspective about this is very different than that of doctors and they both need to be on the same table.

    “A patient who comes in because of multiple sclerosis isn’t a customer, he’d be the most reluctant customer ever” Dr. Adrienne explained

    OS:What are some of the other key elements that you take into consideration before investing in technology?

    AB:Clinical transformation has evolved as a new area of focus and within it there is quality, patient experience and value. Those have been in silos and are coming together including their data and outcomes and how we can transform future technologies.

    We then look at how pragmatic it is and whether it solves several pain points. There are few technologies that do all of that.

    OS:Can you tell us about some of the companies whose technology you have adopted at the Clinic?

    AB:We have adopted a patient education platform that engages patients and allows them to take a more active role in their care, as well as a platform which connects patients to doctors with timely information. The question now is: Can they relate to outcomes and value?

    It has become an absolute requirement for our solutions to improve all three areas of focus which I have mentioned. We don’t just pilot them, but there is ongoing discussion to say how can we improve the pilot to show us how our metrics are impacted.

    OS:What are some of the challenges you face?

    AB:Now more than ever, there is an assault of priorities. We need to decrease the number of initiatives, and focus on a specific vision. Throwing some technologies at the wall and seeing what sticks doesn’t work. Does it move the needle on quality, value and patient experience?

    Another issue is that the number 1 frustration for doctors is the time away from the patient. The technology has to enhance the connectivity, ensure their success and make it easier. Some technologies add to the workflow and that gets in the way of physician adoption.

    Finally, this all has to be tied to patient experience. The Boston Globe just published research showing that it takes the patient an average of 2 hours to visit the doctor. If people can’t get to your facility, then it doesn’t matter how fancy your technology is!

    Adrienne gave a talk on the main stage the next day on the power of empathy, and explained how it is the missing link in health care. Their intent at the Clinic is to build initiatives around patient relationships rather than patient satisfaction surveys.

    Perhaps empathy, and patient engagement are still a few years away from being fully realized, but the fact that top executives like Adrienne in large organizations like Cleveland Clinic are already adopting it and making it happen makes me very optimistic of this radical change to realistic value-based medicine.

    Houston, We Have A (Digital Health) Problem

    Health 2.0 Blog Post (TMCx Digital Health)

    Think of your last visit to your doctor’s office. Maybe you were wrapping up a Bluetooth-facilitated conference call as you walked in the front door; perhaps your car’s GPS system cleanly delineated your entire route, dictated in Siri’s soothing tones; more than likely, you scrolled through emails or gave a last, cursory glance at Facebook before your name was called.

    While digital technology empowers us through most of our lives, stepping through the threshold of a 21st century health care system feels like an abrupt time-warp back to the stone age:

    As a patient juggling clipboards and endless reams of paper, scheduling issues, excessive wait times, and a lack of care coordination are the norm.
    For physicians, nurses, and health care providers, fragmented workflow processes and cumbersome EHR implementations monopolize the increasingly dwindling time spent with their patients.
    And for health care leadership looking to improve strategic outcomes, they’re turning towards tomorrow’s solutions—from population health management tools to analytics supporting clinical decision making—with one foot firmly rooted in the technological troubles of the past….

    Texas-Sized Opportunities

    Don’t panic just yet—these barriers to care actually represent a blank canvas of possibility for emerging digital health startups.

    “These pain points represent incredible opportunities to improve physician, nurse, and patient satisfaction,” noted Col. John Holcomb, M.D., vice chair, professor and chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. “The frustration of having these unrealized opportunities that we see all around us is made worse because we see them being actualized in the non-medical space.”

    Throughout the Texas Medical Center— home to 56 distinct medical institutions, from hospitals to universities—reaching a consensus isn’t always easy, but in the realm of digital technologies, a common thread is emerging: a pervasive need for innovative digital health solutions to everyday problems.

    “There’s a real need for platforms that allow patients to become more involved in their own care,” said Avery Cloud, chief information officer at CHI St. Luke’s Health. “They need to become co-coordinators of care; therefore, they need access to the information pertaining to their care plans, as well as easy access to their communications with their providers.”

    “An ideal digital health startup would not only be delivering information but collecting and storing that information,” he added. “If we can make more of that analytic capacity available to patients and their families, I think that they can help manage wellness while also being involved in the vision and oversight of the care process. That might take the form of data analytics, discovery or storage.”

    According to Cloud, companies who are striving to seamlessly blend together existing technologies will find themselves in increasingly high demand.

    “If you’re an entrepreneur who’s entering this industry—where people are conversing about both the process of providing treatment and the experience of receiving care—you need to be thinking about technologies that can help us with convergence,” he observed. “When you look at what makes for a powerful tool for providing care, it’s very much like what makes for a powerful phone on your hip: multiple technologies converging and integrating in a fashion that supports the needs of clinicians and patients.”

    One particularly pervasive need has become more than just a pain-point for physicians and providers—electronic health records (EHRs). While the adoption of EHRs have allowed health care systems to trade the confines of file cabinets for the open road of the digital superhighway, inputting and accessing the data they contain is a minefield.

    “I think that all clinicians recognize the value of electronic medical records, in theory,” said Holcomb. “I think that what hasn’t happened is the translation of that theory into everyday clinical practice that influences all of our individual patients. The process of writing a note on a piece of paper is really efficient versus typing it into a computer. Interfacing with these systems really decreases the time that you can spend with your patients.”

    While EHRs pose their own set of problems—acting as a roadblock to sharing information, delivering care end even stifling the potential for technology innovation—there are still enormous benefits to having a consistent platform and experience for providers.

    For Devin Soelberg, chief customer officer at Redox—a TMCx alumni aiming to make it easier for developers and health systems to integrate with EHRs—that demand for standardization needs to be balanced with the diverse needs of distinct providers.

    “I think integration is really about balancing that diversity of functionality with the experiences of physicians and providers,” he noted. “We see applications flooding into areas where the large EHR systems are underdeveloped for that demand: care coordination; medication adherence; telemedicine; palliative care. In response, agile entrepreneurs are developing tools around that, while still recognizing that the incentives to use those tools and the market needs are always going to be in flux.”

    At the end of the day, leveraging these obstacles into opportunities necessitates broad-minded, forward-thinking companies that can view a larger continuum of needs while still pinpointing specific solutions.

    “I liken it to an F-16 with a heads-up-display that projects critical information,” said Cloud. “It doesn’t project the entire cockpit dashboard onto the window, but there are certain key components that a pilot needs to be aware of. Through that approach, the caregiver—or pilot, in this case—is constantly aware of what’s important and doesn’t have to take his or her eyes off the horizon. We need to view medical technologies the same way, to ensure that, at a glance, caregivers are more aware of what they need to know.”

    From Opportunity to Implementation: TMCx

    At TMCx, we combine the resources of the world’s largest medical center with the gung-ho gumption of entrepreneurs. As we prepare to launch our upcoming digital health cohort, we’re thrilled at the prospect of facilitating the development of early-stage companies.

    The world of digital health is vast—an expansive umbrella stretching over diverse technologies with equally distinct goals. Over the past several months, the TMCx team has met with CEOs, CIOs, innovation directors, physicians, supply chain managers, information services representatives and other providers to understand what “digital health” means to them. Within the framework of the health care needs of Texas Medical Center institutions, the following verticals were identified as urgent needs for 2016.

    Technologies that improve the patient experience, including:

    • Scheduling, pre-appointment engagement, wayfinding within the hospital campus, wait times, communications during care, coordinated care and referrals.

    Solutions that improve hospital efficiency, including:

    • Asset tracking and ordering, physician workflow, EHR upgrades.

    Platforms that streamline strategic delivery of care, including:

    • Population management, telemedicine, cyber-security, workforce collaboration and clinical decision support.

    We hope that you’ll help us turn these pain-points into possibilities and bring digital health into the 21st century.

    “I think some people expect that an accelerator is going to deliver contracts on a silver platter, and that’s just not reality—that’s not how this business works,” said Soelberg. “The value of an accelerator comes from the internal instructions you receive on how to grow your business, but for us it was all about the exposure to the larger Texas Medical Center community. TMCx was a great broker for that.”

    Bring your digital health solution to the Texas Medical Center! Click here to apply for our cohort. Our application deadline is Sunday, November 15th.

    Flashback from Fall Conference: The Unmentionables

    Every year, Alex Drane takes us on an incredible journey through the health issues we don’t talk about. But should. Topics that were covered included:

    • Caregiving: With millions of baby boomers heading into their golden years, caring for caregivers has emerged as the next epidemic in need of digital solutions.
    • Financial Stress: In a world where nothing is certain but death and taxes, these experts shared how wealth is health.
    • Senior Fraud and Abuse: Keeping loved ones safe requires dealing with the most controversial of the unmentionables- elder abuse.
    • Empathy: Empathy is the biggest missed opportunity in health care as understood in how we live and die.

    Check out the full video of the panel discussion below!

    Higi study finds monitoring based on reward incentives can lower blood pressure and may create lasting behavioral changes

    Results released at American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2015 Scientific Sessions

    Higi, a leading retail-based health and wellness platform, today released the findings of a nearly three-year study that found a significant relationship between lowered blood pressure and an incentive-based program based on regular monitoring.

    The findings of the large-scale study were presented at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2015 Scientific Sessions on September 18 in Washington, D.C.

    “A blood pressure reading is a vital health measure that most people understand and know how to monitor easily when given the tools to do so. When this behavior is encouraged through rewards and challenges, individuals have a powerful opportunity to hardwire healthy habits in their everyday lives,” said Dr. Khan M. Siddiqui, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Medical Officer at higi.

    Higi reviewed de-identified historic data for users who opted in to join higi and analyzed the impacts of its system of rewards and challenges on 159,000 hypertensive users nationwide from September 2012 to April 2015. This included activity across higi’s network of retail-based ambulatory health stations, mobile app and web portal. Among the findings:

    Nearly half lowered their systolic blood pressure to below 140 mmHg, the cut-off for high blood pressure according to AHA. Both men and women across all age brackets saw lowered blood pressure over the course of the study.
    Patients logging in 5 or more times per month showed an average drop in Systolic BP of 17 mmHg and an average drop in Diastolic BP of 9 mmHg, with >80% seeing any reduction in their BP, and nearly half reaching BP range below hypertensive.

    Participants in the study were higi users who had an average age of 49 with their first blood pressure measurement in the hypertensive range. Fifty-eight percent of participants were men, 42 percent were women. Nearly half were obese.

    “Our study bears out the notion that access, awareness and incentives, if designed and executed effectively, can have a positive impact on individual health,” said Siddiqui. “We are pleased to present our findings with the American Heart Association and make a contribution to the increasing discussion among healthcare organizations and consumers concerning hypertension.”

    Higi’s health station network has grown to almost 10,000 units in pharmacies, groceries and other retail outlets nationwide, putting a higi station within 5 miles of 75 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, higi’s online health communities enable higi users to track their statistics, take challenges and engage with others to improve their health.

    Blood pressure is a key indicator of overall health, and can be life threatening if mistreated or undertreated. According to the American Heart Association, about 80 million Americans have high blood pressure, but nearly 20 percent are unaware of it and only about half have it under control.

    Dr. Khan Siddiqui and Ross Goglia, M.B.A., were co-authors of the study. The poster presented at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2015 can be found here.

    About higi:
    Higi’s mission is to get consumers to take small but meaningful steps to create lasting health habits. Its innovative health and wellness platform gives consumers the power to collect and share their health and activity data with trusted partners or communities. These trusted partners can leverage this data from higi (after consumers’ explicitly opt-in) and higi’s tools to better engage with their customers on health and wellness in a simple, fun and rewarding manner. For more information, visit us at and follow us on Twitter @higi. In addition, prospective partner developers can learn more about higi’s API by visiting

    For More Information:

    Chris Varones

    Flashback from 9th Fall Conference: Launch!

    Ten digital health companies showcased their innovative products at our Launch! competition during our 9th Annual Fall Conference in Santa Clara. This year’s winner was MedWand, which presented a revolutionary telemedicine device that allows providers to remotely perform physical examinations via the Internet. Check out what MedWand’s Founder and President, Dr. Samir Qamar has to say on how digital health technology will transform care delivery and more!

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