My review of NYC PILOT health day 2013 – 10 interesting companies

On June 26th, I had the privilege of going to PILOT Health day 2013. For those of you not familiar with the program here is a link that will give you more information:

Basically, it was an initiative by NYEDC, Blueprint Health, Startup Health and Health 2.0 to help early stage digital health companies connect with leading NY healthcare organizations and carry out pilot projects, with the goals being cost reduction, patient engagement and improving quality of care. 10 companies each won $100,000 and the ability to pilot their tech at partner health organizations.

One of the things that JL of Health 2.0 mentioned at the start of the day was that one thing that companies were looking for was market access. Having floated around the digital health world for the past year, I agree. I think that this program was great because it gives innovators the opportunity to talk to health care professionals about their products and health organizations the opportunity to talk about their needs. True collaboration is key in building great products as both parties benefit from new ideas, tools and the ability to understand each others nuances. Overall, I am a fan of pilot projects in general because they are real world applications of the products. You learn a lot about what works, what doesn’t, what people like, what they hate and how long it takes to actually get something done. It’s also a way of ironing out the kinks before a massive rollout which is always helpful and prudent.

I went as a digital health enthusiast and as a physician looking for tools that I will bring back with me when I go back into practice.
So without further ado the 10 companies:

1. Sense Health and University Behavioral Associates (Montefiore)

Technology that will help case managers deliver support to high utilization substance abuse patients via mobile technology (text messages in between visits).

I see this as a tool that supports what happens in between visits and may become really popular with not only case managers but with health coaches. I liked that it will be used in mental health and substance abuse because that is an area that comparatively doesn’t seem to get as many tools as others.

2. Vital Care Services and Pace University

Telehealth solution for monitoring patient vitals. Pace technician would take a patient’s vitals and the data would be sent to a remote Pace RN.

I see this as a tool that would help keep people relatively independent and out in the community rather than in a costly center. I liked that the data would be reviewed by an RN that is designated to receive and review the data. (One of the questions I often have about generating health data is who will be reviewing it especially if there is a lot of it. Also the reviewer needs to understand individual baselines vs abnormal vs machine artifact).

3. Starling Health and VillageCare

Nurse call and bedside communication tool using tablets piloted in a rehabilitation SNF (subacute nursing facility, pronounced “sniff”).

I really liked this one and mentioned a need for something like this in a previous post. It fills a need in terms of receiving, accepting and tracking requests. As a person who loves design, I really liked the flow and the icons. Simple and easy to understand. This would be interesting to have not only at a SNF but maybe even in an inpatient setting or well even have as an application in a hotel. Can you imagine hitting a button and boom, you get extra towels?

4. Adheretech and Weil Cornell

Wireless smart pill bottle that will help with med adherence for people living with HIV/AIDS.

It’s a pill bottle that knows how many pills (or even liquid) is in the bottle. It lights up when you are supposed to take your pills and if you missed a dose and connects to the cloud and you get a call if u do miss it. I think that this is a great partnership because adherence is such a big issue in general but specifically for this population, missing doses can affect viral load and can lead to drug resistance. What I also like is that like the Square of glucometers, the technology is so cool that instead of being “sick” you are the person with the cool technology.

A word on the team. I met all 3 co-founders last year while visiting Blueprint and they are great and it’s not just educational background and experience, which BTW is top notch. They were friendly, they listened, they let me ask questions (ummm I ask A LOT of questions), and we had a whole discussion about the product, its uses, who could be helped, what could be improved. (They also showed me their Makerbot printer). I really respect health tech entrepreneurs who listen and who are looking to improve their product to better fit the needs of the people they want to help.

5. Biodigital and Memorial Sloan Kettering

3D interactive map of the body that will be used to facilitate patient understanding of complex health topics.

I actually saw a demo of this a couple of months ago when I was at a NY Academy of Sciences trends in healthcare conference (will blog about that at a later date) in relation to teaching medical students anatomy. This is like Netter’s Atlas of the Human Body come to life. What I like about it is that you can peel away different layers and show people normal anatomy as well as pathology. This will help patients understand their own normal anatomy, where a cancer is located, and what abnormal looks like. I was excited to hear that they will work on individual personalization soon too. Also, it beats the drawings that I draw to help explain things to patients (Patient: Doc, is that a lung or a heart? Doc: Errr…let me start over, j/k). I would like a timeline function so that I can show patients ok here is normal, here is where you are, here is what happens if we do X, here is what it looks like if you continue to do Y). Or maybe in the future, there will be a 3D hologram version a la Star Trek (a girl can dream).

6. Ecaring and Pace University

Web-care based management and monitoring system for chronically ill patients at a multicultural retirement community. RN’s will track health resource usage as well as disease management.

I actually have seen Ecaring before at the first Startupalooza event (he won) last year. What I like is that I have seen the evolution of the product a year later. What I also like is that the founder really took the time to make the system easy to use. You can use the system even if English is not your first language and if you are not very computer literate. I like that it is sophisticated enough to look at chronic disease management.

7. RipRoad and VNSNY

Text messaging platform for patient engagement for Medicaid population and will look at patient communication and have data analysis on appointments and med adherence.
I think that text messaging and smartphone capabilities, basically mobile, are the way it’s going to be and tools that leverage that will be helpful because there is less barrier for use in terms of cost, it’s accepted as part of daily life, and the proliferation of the technology as well as the ubiquity of devices.

I also just wanted to add that I have had really great experiences with people from VNS while I worked in the hospital. They were professional, really thorough and on point with their work and pleasant to talk to. (Thanks đŸ™‚

8. Biosignal Group and NY Methodist
Micro-EEG (basically electrodes that we hook up to see electrical brain activity, it is painless) connected to a network of teleneurologist to help patients who come into the ED with altered mental status (person who is confused, unconscious, not themselves, speech is altered etc).

I also really liked this. AMS can be a lot things (toxins, electrolyte abnormalities, brain tumor, brain bleed etc) but you often wonder if it is due to stroke vs seizure. A brain scan is usually done in the first 20 minutes as part of stroke protocol but an EEG would be helpful to determine something called status epilepticus which is like a prolonged electrical storm in your brain and that requires you to be moved to say an ICU or area where you are monitored round the clock. It also would be helpful in the ICU because of the design elements (less cords) and cuz seizures can happen even if that is not the original reason someone came in. I like the micro aspect of it as well because there is a trend for smaller, portable, wireless tools and that’s cuz they make life easier. (Think: carrying a 1990’s desktop computer with modem wires vs your sleek Ipad).

9. Opticology and the NY Eye and Ear Infirmary
Pen-shaped device that tests your sugar (glucose) by using a pen-shaped devide and touching it to tears that run in the lower part of your eyelid (the touch part is disposable). Pilot study will correlate glucose in tears vs glucose in blood.

I think that this is an interesting way to test glucose levels. Diabetes affects many people and testing their sugar levels is the way we diagnose, manage and treat. If your sugar is not well-controlled we need to check those levels out more often and frankly yes, it is a painful drag to have be stuck repeatedly for blood and you have to pay for alcohol swabs, lancets, and test strips. I also think that a quick painless way of testing blood sugar would be helpful in the ER setting as well because depending on your symptoms, getting a quick sugar level would be helpful.

10. Flatiron Health and Continuum Health Partners
Software that helps collect, aggregate and sort clinical cancer data. It will be used to obtain metrics related to outcome, quality, operational and even financial data.
Clinical data is collected and stored by researchers and HCP’s but this taps into data that patients collect which is 9x more plentiful and sometimes clinically richer. I think that the idea of crowdsourcing data is interesting because it helps use the wisdom of the crowd to help individuals. Sourcing a lot of people amplifies the result or brings forth results that would not have been seen or mentioned if not as many people were involved. Basically, if we are talking statistics this helps increase your n.

I think that actionable analytics are great because it’s not just about having data to have it, it’s about being able to improve outcomes and quality of life.

I think that the organizers and judges did a really good job. The event started on time and all 10 companies did very well presenting their products with lightning speed. I also think that the companies chosen were a good representation of trends like cloud, mobile and Big Data but more importantly they fill real needs. I think that what will be most interesting to me is to see the results of the PILOT project a year from now in terms of published studies, but most of all seeing the evolution of the products and services and the people who make them. Health care is unlike any other field because you can literally change and save lives and that is both an awesome responsibility and an inspiration.

Good luck.


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