In homes across the country, “chief medical officer” moms are often in charge of managing their families’ day-to-day health and making long-term decisions. In medical schools, women comprise just about half of graduates and in the industry in general they make up about three-quarters of medical and health services managers.
But, according to a report from digital health startup accelerator Rock Health, their numbers dwindle down to the low double-digits and single digits when you look at the positions at the top. Just 18 percent of hospital CEOs, 14 percent of partners at healthcare VCs and just 4 percent of healthcare CEOs are women, the accelerator says.
So, to raise to those numbers up to where they belong, this week Rock Health is celebrating “XX in Health” with stories and videos highlighting women CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs, researchers and more.
“It’s about trying to inspire this movement to move online and scale outside of the people that we know, to inspire women who maybe haven’t felt comfortable sharing their stories to take a stand and to get involved,” said Leslie Ziegler, co-founder and chief evangelist at San Francisco-based Rock Health. “There’s a lot of shared experience out there and the best way we can move forward and continue to grow our careers and what’s happening is to join together and do that as a group.” The initiative started a year ago as an organic local effort to help women in healthcare connect with each other for support and mentorship, she said, but has grown to include hundreds of women around the country.
One area in which the gender imbalance is particularly pronounced is startups. According to Rock Health’s funding database, of the roughly 78 VC-backed digital health startups to have raised more than $2 million this year, only three had female CEOs. Last year, none of them did.
But even though just a handful of startups with women founders or CEOs have raised big funding rounds recently, there are many more starting to bring innovation into the field. Here are seven women-led health tech startups to keep an eye on.
One of the three women-led startups to have raised more than $2 million this year, AliveCor creates mobile health tools for medical professionals and consumers, including a low-cost mobile ECG device that works with iPhones, iPads and iPods to let patients monitor their heart at any time, from anywhere. In June, the company named Judy Wade as its president and CEO and announced $10.5 million in new funding (it’s raised $13.5 million in total).
Launched last year as a “Mint for health insurance,” Cake Health is led by founder and CEO Rebecca Woodcock. The friendly-looking site, which gives people a way to manage and track healthcare expenses in an intuitive environment, has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding.
For women, by women, ChickRx is a health information Q and A platform designed to look like a light and splashy women’s magazine. It offers a few articles (written with help from female comedians) but mostly it lets people query 200 experts on topics ranging from breast cancer and sinus problems to weight loss and dating. It relaunched earlier this month (to emphasize the Q and A component over the content) and has raised $550,000 in seed funding.
Launched last October by co-founders Rebecca Palm and Katie Vahle, CoPatient analyzes patients’ medical bills free of charge. It appeals any charges that it believes are incorrect and negotiates reduced rates for charges that it finds are significantly above the norm for a user’s area. Patients pay when the company successfully appeals for a lower rate. It also offers a bill monitoring system that is $50 a month.
Led by co-founders Brian Dear and Jessica Dear, iCouch provides a platform that lets people receive mental health counseling from certified professionals via video chat. The company was part of New York health startup accelerator Blueprint Health’s first class of startups and is available as an iPhone app and online.
Inspired by her own experience with a lower back injury, co-founder and CEO Lisa Maki launched PokitDok and a community and marketplace for health and wellness. Through the site, people can communicate with physicians, personal trainers, massage therapists and other specialists, as well as purchase health products and treatments. The site launched in beta earlier this month and has raised $1.3 million.
Founded by husband and wife team Samer Hamadeh and Alison Harmelin, Zeel offers an online network for booking appointments for complementary and alternative medical treatments, including massage, acupuncture and physical therapy. Much like a ZocDoc for alternative care, the platform lets people search for available times, review pricing and book appointments 24/7. The startup, which was part of New York-based Startup Health’s startup academy, has raised $1.5 million.