Three Burrill Digital Health Quick Demos
The annual Burrill Digital Health Meeting took place earlier this week, and both days featured startup showcases. This gave young, as well as very young, companies the chance to present quick demos on stage. On Tuesday, the day I attended, startups dealt with a range of health care and medical issues from genomics to mental health to wellness. While talk of each isn’t new at these types of meetings, the showcase demonstrated that wheels are working, and many are thinking up original approaches to established issues. Here are just a few of the companies that presented that day.
Neumitra, a member of Rock Health Boston‘s first class, focuses on mental health and develops applications for patients and professionals. Founder Robert Goldberg said the company’s aim is to address brain and mental health for the general population. But given the high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, Neumitra is first zeroing in on PTSD. Goldberg showed how a clinician can use the app on an iPad during a session with a PTSD patient.
Throughout the meeting, the patient wears Neumitra’s bandu, a device that measures the autonomic nervous system. Bandu is a watch that monitors skin conductance, movement, and temperature to look for signs of stress. These readings are automatically recorded throughout a session. Then therapists can go back and look at which questions or discussions were triggers for the patient.
The patient-facing app looks at location as a trigger on an ongoing basis. Patients download Neumitra to their smartphones, which gathers GPS information and stress levels from bandu. These data show the locations where patients registered their highest readings. Goldberg said that after using the app, one veteran learned that Whole Foods supermarket commonly set off his symptoms.
The interesting thing about Neumitra is the way it allows for a departure from the typical way that mental illness is treated. For a medical field, mental illness involves very little data, and Neumitra wants to begin to introduce some software and analytics into the process.
This company is creating apps that encourage improved medication adherence. Jason Oberfest, CEO of Mango Health, said that four in five Americans take prescription medications, over the counter drugs and/or nutritional supplements each week. It’s easy to believe that the majority of people aren’t staying on track with their regimens. While there are other reasons for missing medications, many skip either because they forget or because they miss a refill.
Patients use Mango’s app to create a record of their drugs and supplements. One of the app views shows them what they’ll need to take based on the schedule they’ve set up, and it will give them reminder alerts. Users earn points based on how well they’re adhering, and they can take a look at how they’re scoring in comparison to others taking the same medication.
Mango emphasizes its use of gaming and social aspects, but the social component isn’t what makes it interesting. The company’s business model is. It plans to partner with brands like Starbucks and others to offer rewards for users. That way companies that want to be associated with health and wellness get to advertise, and at the same time patients can work toward something tangible.
While Ringadoc has been around for about two years it just came out with a recent feature. The company is known for providing 24/7 access to physicians via telephone, but on stage CEO Jordan Michaels demoed Ringadoc Exchange, a call management system for physicians.
Physicians set up the service so that their patients can call them at the same number they’ve always used. Patients can indicate the urgency of their issue and then leave a voicemail for the doctor while he’s busy. Later on a doctor can go through the missed calls and decide how to handle them. If there’s an urgent issue, he can call the patient right back. In response to something minor, the doctor can send a voicemail. For example, in the demo Michaels called the doctor to say he thought he had a sinus infection. The doctor responded with a quick voicemail back, telling Michaels to go ahead and call the front desk for an appointment. This is interesting because the idea of having your phone calls screened by almost anyone else is a little off-putting. But in this case, it makes total sense.