Both demo days put the spotlight on key issues in health care like reducing costs, providing more personalized care and engaging patients. But the back-to-back demo days also emphasized an interesting difference between the two programs. While Rock Health’s latest class included four consumer-facing (or consumer-oriented) startups, Blueprint’s newest class didn’t include a single consumer startup.
Past Blueprint demo days that I’ve covered have included at least one consumer-facing company and I’m sure future classes will include them, too. But the particularly stark contrast this week seems to highlight the difference in context between the two accelerators: Blueprint was co-founded by a doctor (Brad Weinberg) and is based in an area with several top hospitals, research institutions, drug companies and insurance providers. Rock Health’s CEO (Halle Tecco) has a stronger consumer tech background (although her co-founder is a doctor) and the program has especially close ties to the consumer-tech-heavy Silicon Valley.
Consumer-oriented health startups may have wider appeal (and be more interesting for general audiences to read about). But considering that the health system is so full of inefficiency and in need of innovation, it’s not a bad thing to see enterprise and non-consumer applications getting the lion’s share of entrepreneurial attention.
Blueprint’s fourth class boasts several startups that seem to be gaining traction, including five that were already revenue-generating when they started the program (you can see a full list here). But here are four that I found most interesting.
Here’s a sobering (but, sadly, not too surprising) stat: according to startup Healthify, for every 5,000 Medicaid patients, only one social worker is assigned to follow up and make sure patients get the care they need. That means clinics that work with low-income populations just don’t have the manpower necessary to provide effective support to overcome social factors like food insecurity and mental health challenges. And, the startup added, those kinds of unmet social needs increase the odds of hospitalization by thirty percent (which drives up healthcare costs).
To help local clinics and community centers overcome social factors, Healthify automates screening processes that initially identify patients’ social needs and it enables automatic follow-up via text message. The founders, who worked in community clinics in Baltimore for several years, said their service can reduce screening time from one hour to five minutes and identify six times as many at-risk patients as a case worker.
Personalized medicine that matches medical care to a person’s genetic makeup is gaining steam, but startup Genterpret believes that for it to really take off, more data needs to be free-flowing and effectively used by pharmaceutical companies. Now, the startup says, pharmaceutical companies want to be able to offer patients the treatments that match their genetic predisposition. But it’s tricky for them to get the necessary data directly because of regulatory hurdles and the lack of consumer trust.
Genterpret recruits people online who are willing to share their genetic data (through saliva collection) and then delivers that data to pharmaceutical companies (and the patients themselves). The company, which was developed out of the Harvard Innovation Lab, said 54 percent of people they’ve contacted are willing to share their data.
Physician credentialing may sound like a ho-hum kind of industry to tackle but it’s responsible for a ton of wasted time and money. Verifying the credentials of a single provider for administrative or insurance reasons can take up to two to three months and, CredSimple says, in total, $1 billion to $5 billion is spent on the process every year.
The startup said its software checks with 214 databases to automate the process and can reduce the cost by half and cut down processing time from 60 days to 4 days.
Another startup taking on the beasts of waste and inefficiency, StaffInsight helps hospitals track and optimize their workforce. According to the company, a third of community hospitals are losing money and labor is their biggest expense. StaffInsight helps hospital administrators track and gauge the productivity of their staff and then model and schedule more efficient approaches. For example, it can tell hospitals whether departments are over- or under-staffed and how they compare to similar hospitals when it comes to completing certain medical procedures.