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New Ways to Tackle Healthcare's Headaches

New Ways to Tackle Healthcare's Headaches
The latest round of startups has emerged from Blueprint Health's accelerator with ways to make healthcare more effective and efficient. Here are a few highlights.

The latest round of startups has emerged from Blueprint Health's accelerator with ways to make healthcare more effective and efficient. Here are a few highlights.

"It's hard not to think we are living in interesting times," said Jean-Luc Neptune, executive director at NYC-based startup accelerator Blueprint Health. Those interesting times "apply to healthcare as well . . . we are everyday asking fundamental questions about things we haven't talked about in a long time," he continued, addressing an audience of healthcare investors and industry professionals at the accelerator's April 27 Demo Day.

Neptune's comments were an appropriate introduction to the 10 startups from Blueprint Health's ninth accelerator class. Several of the young companies focus on the big topics in medicine today: reducing costs, reducing readmissions, and optimizing business models for the changing payer landscape. "We're only just beginning to see the shock waves of the asteroid that is going to kill many dinosaurs," Neptune added.

Below, we highlight four digital health-related startups from the Winter 2016 Demo Day:

Sparkite is focused on support for addiction patients after their discharge from a treatment facility. Founder and CEO Lauren Stahl, who described herself as a "grateful, recovering addict and alcoholic" who has been sober for three-and-a-half years, started Sparkite to give recovering addicts a "mobile support network in their pocket." She cited startling statistics on addiction, which affects 24 million Americans and is behind 50,000 U.S. deaths per year. Of those patients who seek treatment, 60% relapse within a year, Stahl noted, and 80% of those who relapse will go on to another treatment facility. The company charges treatment facilities $2000 per month, enabling the centers to provide their patients with the Sparkite app at discharge. This is intended to give addiction patients support, a tailored treatment plan and goals, weekly quality-of-life surveys, and in case of a relapse, should help facilities retain that patient. According to Stahl, with 15,000 U.S. treatment facilities, the company's business model represents a $360M market opportunities. The company already has four customers on board.

Get inspired to innovate in medtech at the MD&M East Conference, June 14-16, in New York City.

Blue Mesa Health is taking on industry darling Omada Health, offering a digital diabetes prevention program. The program, called Transform, capitalizes on the interest in diabetes prevention, including CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program and CMS's recent pledge to broaden diabetes prevention program access for Medicare patients. Blue Mesa's Transform is intended to help employers reduce employee claims costs, which are typically three times higher for patients with diabetes. Cofounder and CEO Curtis Duggan said the program will be rolled out with the Mt. Sinai Health System in New York City and is being distributed through the Anthem Colorado plan. Employers are charged $475 per participant and those participants receive Fitbits and wireless scales as part of a care package. Patients can use convenient tracking tools within the app and receive digital health coaching as part of a 12-person cohort. According to Duggan, Transform users lost a cumulative body weight percentage of 8.1% at 16 weeks, a higher weight loss percentage than data he cited from competing programs.

Adrian Cunanan, cofounder of ThriveStreams, pitches the audience at the April 27 Demo Day.

ThriveStreams offers employers a way to support employees who are struggling with a mental health condition. Cofounder Adrian Cunanan pointed out that each employee with undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions can cost an employer $8000. The company offers the first commercial digital assistance program that uses "artificial intelligence to identify and intervene early when an employee is facing a mental health challenge," Cunanan said. Employers pay ThriveStreams $30 per employee each year, which adds up to a $1.2 billion market opportunity, he noted. Employees take evidence-based surveys that generate digital mental wellness reports. Employees can received mental health coaching and the company also offers anonymized analytics. Cunanan announced that the company has signed its first customer, QBIS Group, and its technology is being applied in an NIH research study.   

TweeQ offers a digital platform for physical therapy exercises. Cofound Brandon Paroly told attendees that only 40% of patients comply with their home exercise assignments, which are normally given to them on a piece of paper. This is an important stat, since compliant patients are twice as likely to recover, he noted. With TweeQ's platform, the physical therapist presscribes the home exercises and patients can download the app to get 3-D avatars demonstrating proper form for each exercise in real time. Patient "can focus on exercising," Paroly said, while "physical therapists get patients who do their homework." The platform costs $40 for the patient for the entire rehabilitation treatment, which Paroly pointed out might be less than the usual co-pay for a single therapy session. TweeQ is launching the platform with NYC-based VillageCare.

To learn more about these and other health-related startups, check out Blueprint Health's portfolio.


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