The Longevity

New Walgreens Site to Report on Health and Wellbeing Research

Walgreens has launched a new site to report on the results of their studies on access to care and patient experience, adherence and clinical outcomes, and other health topics:

The site will feature summaries of each study or report, and links and original documents that are related to them. The studies include reports, journal articles, and posters from scientific and industry conferences. There are currently more than 50 studies that have been completed over the past six years.

Walgreens collaborated on the research with several academic partners, including Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; the Scripps Translational Science Institute; the University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy; and the University of Chicago Medicine. The institutions provide guidance, expertise, and insights that contribute to the chain’s outcomes research agenda, according to a company statement.

The site will be useful for healthcare providers and other professionals looking for peer-reviewed evidence. Digital health companies can learn about results and efficacy of digital tools and programs implemented by Walgreens.

Entrepreneur of the Week: Brenda Schmidt, Solera Health

Solera Health is attempting to carve out a new market to bring fully coordinated care to chronic disease prevention services. Their model integrates not only the multiple clinical providers but also payors and non-clinical community and online programs.

We spoke with Brenda Schmidt, founder and CEO of Solera Health, about the opportunity she sees in the 50+ market.  

Longevity Network: What does Solera Health, the company, do?

Brenda Schmidt: Solera Health is a provider of integrated chronic disease prevention services connecting patients, payers, and physicians with community organizations and digital therapeutics providers, simply and securely. The company helps consolidate highly fragmented programs and services including the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) into one integrated network, allowing health plans and medical providers to increase consumer participation while lowering associated costs. When an eligible patient is identified as being at high risk for developing chronic disease, Solera can proactively match them to the “best fit” program providers based on the individual’s unique needs and preferences. The approach of giving consumers choice when selecting a program has proven to have a significant impact on improved patient engagement and outcomes at a fraction of the cost of traditional medical care.

LN: Can you tell us about your product and how it works?

BS: Solera’s scalable, easy-to-implement technology provides an operational infrastructure to align at risk-patients with the local programs and tools they need to make potentially lifesaving lifestyle modifications. Patients are connected to Solera by a referral from their provider or health plan, based on blood values, BMI, and other diabetes risk factors. Individuals can also engage directly with the company through by participating in a one-minute assessment to identify their risk level for developing type 2 diabetes. If the assessment determines a high risk for prediabetes, individuals are then promoted to proceed through the platform on their mobile device, tablet, or computer to determine the most appropriate DPP for them. To do so, we use a health-based algorithm to connect qualifying patients with the programs that align with their individual needs and preferences, which has proven to have a significant impact on improved outcomes at a fraction of the cost of traditional medical care.

In addition, Solera’s technology serves as the “hub” for program delivery (distribution) and billing/reimbursement and reporting.  By connecting a nationwide network of community organizations and digital DPPs with our capabilities to manage service referrals, reimbursement and payment, aggregate data and reporting, we’re simplifying enrollment and supporting increased consumer engagement and choice. The technology allows non-credentialed providers to integrate with healthcare as a higher-access, lower cost network, creating a sustainable revenue model for our network partners.

LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?

BS: I’ve worked in the healthcare IT space for some time and I recognized the numerous barriers that were preventing evidence-based chronic disease prevention programs from scaling and making an impact. There was a considerable gap between patients at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and the prevention and management services and resources being made available to them. That’s when I decided that it was time to build a bridge or marketplace to integrate patients, program delivery providers, and healthcare providers who understood the benefits of non-clinical lifestyle programs that were proven to prevent and better manage chronic diseases. Solera Health was launched less than two years ago around the goal of connecting the nearly 86 million people at risk for developing preventable chronic diseases with the thousands of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized National DPP providers being offered both virtually and at the community level.  Solera’s platform technology connects health plans, physicians and patients with a network or community resources and digital platforms that impact chronic disease and improve quality at a lower cost.

At Solera we believe that through addressing social determinants of health and by meeting people where they live/work/play/pray, people will engage in improving and maintaining their health in a meaningful way. Solera purpose-built our business model around the primary goal of making chronic disease prevention affordable, accessible and efficient. When we first evaluated effective models for chronic disease prevention, we recognized that non-profit, hyper-local community organizations using non-clinical resources were highly effective at both engaging their communities and consumers and they were delivering great outcomes. They were typically grant funded and had no real sustainable revenue model. We also recognized that these organizations were not equipped to meet the compliance and data privacy and security requirements to contract with a health plan or health system and be paid through medical claims. As a startup, we saw a highly fragmented and congested chronic disease marketplace that could benefit from an integrator.

LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?

BS: Solera contracts with health plans to administer prevention programs as a covered medical benefit for their members.  Solera’s role is to effectively engage and improve the lives of consumers at risk for developing chronic diseases.  Since its launch, Solera has contracted with health plans to offer programs to over 40 million covered lives under contract and that number is rapidly expanding. In 2018, eligible Medicare beneficiaries will have access to in-person DPPs as a covered preventive benefit. One of the best things about Solera is that we can meet the needs of a very diverse group of people  who can benefit from programs like the DPP by matching them to one of the hundreds of program delivery partners in our network.  We believe that there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to chronic disease prevention, and that a single solution can’t possibly meet the needs of everyone. Understanding that people have a wide variety of health behaviors and unique needs and preferences, we built a robust national network of community organizations and digital DPPs including Weight Watchers, Lark and Retrofit that offer a diverse range of lifestyle modification programs.

Solera works daily with the aging population to connect them to the “best fit” lifestyle modification program to help keep chronic disease at bay. The epidemic of prediabetes affects 86 million Americans and according to the CDC, and in 2011, people ages 65 to 74 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 13 times as often as people age 45 or younger. Diabetes also increases the risk of serious health problems such as high blood pressure, vision loss, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke. Therefore, getting seniors connected to the right DPP for prevention is critical to our mission.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

BS: It was important to hire people that shared a common vision. Together, we are building a new market category and want to nurture a positive culture fit, comfort with ambiguity, and look for those with the ability to wear many hats successfully. These qualities were important to our early company successes. Once our core team was in place and had purpose-built a great corporate culture, existing employees became a great referral source.  We have also had a lot of in-bound inquiries from people who believe in our mission and wanted to join the company.

LN: How has Solera Health the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

BS: Initially the company was focused solely on the Diabetes Prevention Program. Our business model now answers a much bigger pain point for health plans and physicians as our business model solved for both scale and personalization by integrating non-clinical community and digital resources. The health plans and providers had no infrastructure to integrate and organize the thousands of digital apps and community organizations, engage and match patients, submit claims, and benchmark satisfaction and performance. Solera has the opportunity to address a wide range of chronic diseases, social determinants of health, and emotional well-being through a network model. I am surprised by how quickly we had the opportunity to expand beyond diabetes prevention.

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?

BS: How difficult it would be to build and manage a network of non-clinical program providers. The regulatory and compliance requirements for healthcare are onerous, and creating a network of non-clinical providers that must comply with these same standards is a huge effort.

LN: What most excites you about the aging and / or health technology market?

BS: We understand the importance of giving patients options and making the healthy choice the easy choice. At Solera, our key differentiator is using sophisticated technology to make the consumer experience easy.  By offering choice, access and engagement with a wide variety of DPP program delivery modalities (telephonic, mobile, video-chat, in-person, group, individual, etc.) we foster consumer trust and drive engagement.  By matching people to the program that meets their needs, they are much more likely to enroll and have great outcomes, as one size does not fit all.  There is a tremendous opportunity to use technology to manage sophisticated data sets and complex systems that support a consumer platform that can effectively engage seniors.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

BS: Don’t make assumptions as this market is very diverse and changing. Seniors want social connectedness which can be realized through both in-person and on-line communities. Seniors may take longer to be comfortable using technology, but when they become regular users they have great engagement and good outcomes.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

BS: Solera is using the technology platform we have developed to expand to other prevention, emotional well-being and social services programs that leverage our business model. We believe they by using non-medical resources to keep people in compliance with the physician’s care plan between doctor visits, we can improve the cost and quality of healthcare.  We are focused on integrating highly fragmented hyper-local community organizations and digital solutions into Solera’s centralized network. These programs benefit from an engagement model dependent on consumer choice and a standardized set of quality, satisfaction and performance metrics.

LN: Where do you see Solera Health five years from now?

BS: I hope we have engaged millions of people in prevention, coping and support services that have had a positive impact on their health and quality of life.  I believe that 5 years from now we will have proven that Solera’s model delivers better outcomes and lowers costs with a high access network, consumer choice and performance-based payments.

LN: Anything else you'd like to share?

BS: Solera’s thesis is that if you meet people where they are and make the right choice the easy choice, they will engage in improving and maintaining their health in a meaningful way. By understanding the individual health and wellness needs of at-risk patients and directing them to resources from the comfort of their own home, we truly believe that they will be able to quickly adopt healthy lifestyle changes in a practical way, and feel more in control and empowered.

About the Author

Brenda Schmidt is Founder and CEO of Solera Health. Brenda is on the board of directors for the Population Health Alliance and is widely recognized as an authority on technology-enabled chronic condition prevention and management programs that deliver documented health and financial outcomes. She is a thought leader in the chronic disease prevention field and has spoken at leading healthcare events such as Clinton Health Matters, Diabetes Prevention Program Payer-Provider Summit, and many more.  Brenda holds a MBA from Arizona State University, a MS in immunology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in microbiology from Indiana University-Bloomington.

To learn more about Solera Health, visit their website and follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Electronic Skin? A New Generation of Wearable Sensors Arrives

When researchers from South Korea's Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology and Northwestern University's Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics set out to design a new generation of wearable sensor, they wanted to overcome some of the many issues plaguing the accuracy and consistency of their predecessors. Chief among their goals were flexibility, smaller size and versatility on where the sensors can attach to the body.

[The] new, electronic skin microsystem tracks heart rate, respiration, muscle movement and other health data, and wirelessly transmits it to a smartphone. The electronic skin [is made of] very soft silicone about four centimeters (1.5 inches) in diameter—[and can be attached] just about anywhere on the body.

What is revolutionary, according to designers robotics professor Kyung-In Jang and John A. Rogers, director of Northwestern University's Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, is a “microsystem” of hundreds of tiny wire coils laid into silicone.

The electronic skin contains about 50 components connected by a network of 250 tiny wire coils embedded in protective silicone. The soft material enables it to conform to the body, unlike other hard monitors. It wirelessly transmits data on movement and respiration, as well as electrical activity in the heart, muscles, eyes and brain to a smartphone application.

Unlike flat sensors, the tiny wires coils in this device are three-dimensional, which maximizes flexibility. The coils can stretch and contract like a spring without breaking. The coils and sensor components are also configured in an unusual spider web pattern that ensures "uniform and extreme levels of stretchability and bendability in any direction." It also enables tighter packing of components, minimizing size. The researchers liken the design to a winding, curling vine, connecting sensors, circuits and radios like individual leaves on the vine.

The key to creating this novel microsystem is stretching the elastic silicone base while the tiny wire arcs, made of gold, chromium and phosphate, are laid flat onto it. The arcs are firmly connected to the base only at one end of each arc. When the base is allowed to contract, the arcs pop up, forming three-dimensional coils.

Potential applications are extensive, according to the designers, “including continuous health monitoring and disease treatment”.

Professor Jang states "Combining big data and artificial intelligence technologies, the wireless biosensors can be developed into an entire medical system which allows portable access to collection, storage, and analysis of health signals and information." He added "We will continue further studies to develop electronic skins which can support interactive telemedicine and treatment systems for patients in blind areas for medical services such as rural houses in mountain village." The microsystem could also be used in other areas of emerging interest, such as soft robotics or autonomous navigation, which the team is now investigating.

Digital Stethoscope Startup Has Finger on Pulse of Health Tech

What started as a spring break project for a UC Berkeley student has turned into a successful startup for the three young founders. Carol Pogash at the New York Times reported on digital stethoscope company Eko Devices:

[The company] raised nearly $5 million and sold 6,000 digital stethoscopes, used in 700 hospitals. The wireless stethoscopes can transfer a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs directly to Eko’s secure portal, where it can, among other things, be shared with other doctors for a second opinion.

Now they have built something with a potentially larger market: It is the Duo, a digital stethoscope for home use, which could change how heart patients are monitored, the entrepreneurs say. It is scheduled to become available by prescription in the fall.

The product, which fits in your hand, combines electrocardiogram, or E.K.G., readings and heart sounds into a device that allows patients to monitor their health at home and send data to their physicians.

None of the founders have a medical background, but they consult with doctors in the development of their products:

The Eko team relies on cardiologists at the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University’s School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

The Duo gives at-home heart patients “a cardiology-level exam” said Dr. Ami B. Bhatt, director of outpatient cardiology at MGH and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University.

Dr. Bhatt, who is a scientific adviser to Eko and will be compensated with a small stock option for her work, said that tracking patients, wherever they live, will allow cardiologists to intervene “before a crisis.”

Not all doctors are enthusiastic about emerging health technology:

Other doctors say that it is too soon to tell how helpful telemedicine devices — which include home monitoring devices for diabetesasthma and sleep disorders — will be, given the many obstacles. For one, patients can’t always be relied on to use them consistently or correctly.

“Medicine is experiencing a potentially tectonic shift,” said Dr. Jeffrey Olgin, professor and chief of cardiology at the U.C. San Francisco School of Medicine, who conducts research into mobile and digital health. “There is a huge amount of venture investment in these kinds of things. People are betting this is going to happen — but it hasn’t happened yet.”

The Duo and other telemedicine devices address a common medical problem. “There is a black space,” said Dr. Robert Pearl, a lecturer on health care policy at Stanford University’s medical and business schools and, until recently, the chief executive of Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, which represents 10,000 physicians.

Many small companies are developing devices for home monitoring, he said, “but doctors do not want continuous information.” They only want to know when there’s a problem, Dr. Pearl said.

Physicians tend to want more time talking to patients and less time scanning screens — and some of them are tech averse. “Some doctors are still faxing prescriptions,” [founder Jason] Bellet said. Telemedicine data must seamlessly reach patients’ records, which is something he and his partners are working on, he said. And insurance companies must agree to reimbursement, another work-in-progress.

Dr. Olgin, the U.C. San Francisco cardiologist, said he believed “very strongly that it’s not enough to do consumer-grade evaluations of telemedicine devices.”

“They should be held up to the same level as drugs, because there are always unintended consequences,” he said.

Some doctors may not be ready, but the market seems to be:

Telemedicine is a $9.2 billion business, said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, a health care market-research firm in New York. The field is growing at 8 percent annually, nearly three times as fast as other medical devices.

The Duo enters a competitive field. The more established Kardia Mobile, which is the size of a stick of gum and attaches to the back of a smartphone, takes an E.K.G. reading in 30 seconds. It sells on Amazon for $99. This spring, AliveCor, the maker of the device, received over $30 million in funding, including an undisclosed amount from the Mayo Clinic, which is collaborating with the company on development of its devices.

The market potential for products that address heart failure is great. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 610,000 people die of heart failure in the United States every year, making it the leading cause of death. Half of heart-failure patients who leave a hospital return within six months. They keep tabs on themselves by weighing themselves daily, looking for sudden weight gain that can mean water retention — a sign the heart is not functioning properly.

According to the founders, developing products for the digital health market is all about perspective:

“If you compare Eko to Uber, it looks like we’re moving at a snail’s pace,” Mr. Bellet said. “But if you look at health care as a whole, we’re actually making quite a splash.”

Buoy Completes Series A Funding, Raises $6.7 Million

Health startup Buoy has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding. Founded by Harvard-trained MD Andrew Le, the company uses an intelligent algorithm along with medical data to diagnose patients, like a smarter, more accurate version of WebMD. TechCrunch reports that the startup has been successful so far:

[Le’s] plan at the time was to onboard both consumers and hospital organizations to swiftly process patients before they see the doctor. Buoy claims it has experienced rapid growth since then and that over quarter of a million people have used the platform.

“The team at Buoy has taken an innovative approach to solving the problem of health symptom search,” said Carl Byers, Executive Partner at F-Prime. “By engaging patients intelligently at the moment they experience symptoms, Buoy can deliver triage at scale in a way that can be adopted seamlessly within the healthcare system as a new digital front door to the care journey.”

The company will use the funding from this round to add clinical researchers, engineers, and marketers to their team, and develop integrations with medical providers.

Lyft Partners with Tech Companies for Patient Transportation

Patients’ missed appointments cost the health system $150 billion a year. Now state governments are partnering with Lyft to provide patients with non-emergency transportation:

Dan Trigub of Lyft Healthcare Partnerships explained: “We work with large national caregiver agencies to small mom-and-pop operators. Each of our customers has different needs, but fundamentally they all see that transportation is such a key barrier to effective health care delivery and that a solution such as Lyft can drastically improve the lives of their caregivers, patients, employees and all those they serve.

 At the core of what we look to do is improve the lives of people with the world's best transportation and especially for our elder population. We look to increase the independence of our elders and reduce isolation, and the feedback we have received is that the service is doing just that.”

Here are the companies Lyft has partnered with:

1. CareMore

Located in California and part of Anthem Inc, CareMore provides an integrated care system with sophisticated care coordination throughout its services in the US. Its health system has been linked with Lyft since 2016, and enable vehicles to sent out to patients who need to attend non-emergency appointments through a mobile and web platform. It has reduced transportation wait times by up to 30%, with a wait time of nine minutes, according to a past press release.  

2. Hitch Health

To support patients in being able to attend medical appointments within Minneapolis, Upstream Health Innovations (part of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)), has partnered with Hitch Health, which is linked to Lyft’s enterprise application programming interface. Similarly, to many taxi companies, Lyft will send an automatic confirmation SMS message once a lift has been booked, reducing waiting times and producing real-time insights.

3. Stride Health

Working alongside Stride Health, Lyft and Uber have helped drivers find significant coverage, and deliver cost savings in monitoring the mileage the driver undertakes.

4. LogistiCare

Similarly to Hitch, LogistiCare “helps state governments and managed care organisations run transportation and integrated health care programs.” Utilising Lyft’s enterprise application programming interface, the company helps patients access vital healthcare services.

5. The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organisation (GBUACO)

By partnering with Lyft, the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUACO) developed a pilot programme for its most regular patients in order to drive down costs and provide increase coordinated care.

6. American Medical Response (AMR)

This year, Lyft has partnered with American Medical Response (AMR) who is currently the largest provider of medical transportation across the US, with services in 40 states and over 25,000 AMR paramedics and health professionals across the country. It has provided a significant opportunity for Lyft to deliver non-emergency medical transportation services for patients who need a ride from the hospital to their home or to outpatient procedures.

“Our health plan and health system partners rely upon AMR and our Access2Care subsidiaryto effectively manage the non-emergency transportation needs of their members. This partnership with Lyft provides an additional transport option for patients who require transportation, but do not need the services of an ambulance or other higher level of care,” said Sven Johnson, CEO of Managed Transportation and Integrated Solutions at AMR.

Through this partnership, AMR hospital and health plan clients can participate in “One Call” services which allow the hospital, clinic or health plan to request and pay for rides for patients who do not have access to other transportation – ultimately improving outcomes and lowering costs. The Lyft rideshare services are a fraction of the cost of traditional taxis, and Lyft’s platform allows hospitals and others complete visibility into transport spend, removing the risk of abuse associated with poorly tracked paper vouchers.

7. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Made up of 36 independent and locally operated companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield has also partnered with Lyft, to reduce transportation costs to enable patients who are unable to access traditional transportation services to attend medical appointments. With a database of over 100 million, the partnership will further cement Lyft’s services across the US and help improve the quality of life for patients.

In a press release, Dr Trent Haywood, BCBSA chief medical officer and president of the BCBS Institute has stated, “Many Americans live in areas where medical care is beyond the reach of walking, biking or public transportation. As a result, they struggle to access critical health care services, even when they have health insurance.” The partnership will therefore capture and provide support to these patients who are without access.

8. The National Medtrans Network

Situated in New York City, Lyft’s partnership with the National Medtrans Network, providing over 2,000 rides a week, reducing waiting times and missed appointments for patients across the city.

Startups Addressing Social Determinants of Health

According to the World Health Organization, social elements in our lives have an impact on our overall health:

"To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health, whereas the more commonly considered factors such as access and use of health care services often have less of an impact."

Business Insider reports that some startups are trying to close this gap in access to resources:

Now, a crop of companies is trying to addressing the "social determinants of health" — the external factors like your environment or socioeconomic status — that can impact your health, and they're getting some backing from venture capitalists. 

These companies are trying to do for the poor or the elderly what many of us take for granted — like making sure people make regular doctors appointments and have a way to get to them. And lately, they're ginning up interest from venture capital investors. 

But can providing these services be good for business, as well as for those they help? Lisa Suennen thinks so:

Making money here means providing social services, and tapping funds for Medicaid and Medicare. 

"Turning these traditional charity, social things into companies and figuring out how to get business models built around them is a very current, trendy thing," Lisa Suennen, senior managing director of healthcare at GE Ventures told Business Insider. That's a good thing, she said. 

Suennen gave two examples of startups that got funding just in July:

- Healthify announced on July 11 that they had raised $6.5 million. Healthify works with people on Medicaid and Medicare in 30 states. The company uses technology to identify the social determinants of health that might be hindering someone's ability to be healthy, and then connects patients to everything from housing and food to day care and transportation to improve their overall health.

- Circulation, a company that drives people to appointments, raised $10.5 million

Ultimately, the pitch is that this kind of help could make healthcare less expensive. If you can treat people earlier, when they have a better chance to recover, it'll keep people from putting off visits and ending up in the emergency room. 

"I'm optimistic about the profit opportunity here, she said. "Because if something like 60-70% of all health costs have a social component to them, either mental health or otherwise, and if you can tackle those there's a lot of money to be saved and that way you can take money out of savings and get them reimbursed from that."

The approaching “silver tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers will mean a growing number of people with the increasing medical needs that come with getting older. Providing solutions that save money in health care costs is a business opportunity that VCs may want to pay attention to.

Oncology Panelists Agree: Tech Can Empower Patients

From left: Ashley Reid, founder and CEO of Wellist; Dusty Donaldson, founder of LiveLung; Chuck Gershman, co-founder, president and COO of Kuveda; and moderator Howard Krein, CMO of StartUp Health


As the complex US healthcare system increasingly shifts to value-based care, technology seems primed to provide much-needed tools for coordinating care and integrating the plethora of personalized data points from wearables, home sensors and other innovations. But patient engagement remains crucial for improving health outcomes, yet here, too, which was the topic at a recent panel for MedCity’s annual CONVERGE conference.

…[A group of CONVERGE] panelists touched on the significance of patient engagement, particularly in oncology care. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all three panelists have personal ties to cancer. Kuveda COO Chuck Gershman’s father was diagnosed with cancer, Wellist CEO Ashley Reid’s mother had breast cancer and LiveLung founder Dusty Donaldson is a lung cancer survivor.

Due in part to their experiences, they each formed their own organizations.

Gershman co-founded Kuveda, a company that utilizes analytics and genomics to create cancer treatment options unique to each patient. Reid founded Wellist, which works to ensure healthcare organizations are giving patients access to their nonclinical needs. And Donaldson’s LiveLung seeks to spread awareness of and support patients with lung cancer.

While the startups go about it differently, they all share the same goal: to empower the patient.

Deployed properly, they say, technology can be the missing piece to empower patients to take part in their care plan.

Kuveda wants to do so through personalized medicine. This year, approximately 14 million people are going to be diagnosed with cancer globally, Gershman said. But only 200,000 to 300,000 of them are going to get access to precision medicine. The company wants to bridge that gap.

Wellist looks at patient engagement a little differently. It provides its clients (such UPMC Hillman Cancer Center) with analytics solutions and the tools to connect patients with supportive communities. “We exist to be a one stop shop so patients and nurses can get connected to organizations like Dusty’s,” Reid said.

LiveLung exists to advocate for patients and to end the stigma surrounding lung cancer. By working with cancer centers and nurse navigators, its primary mission is to serve the lung cancer population.

And for each of the companies, technology is one of the key drivers of ensuring patients are engaged with their diagnosis and treatment options.

Doctor-Funded Fruit Street Health Raises $3M

This week we ran an opinion piece on why physicians so rarely found startups even though it means the sector is missing a great deal of needed domain expertise. Almost as an answer, digital health and telemedicine company, Fruit Street Health, announced yesterday they have raised a new three-million-dollar round of funding entirely from physician investors.

Dr. Jeremy Tucker, a senior emergency medicine physician on the board of directors of Fruit Street, led the round, which brings the company's total funding to $8.4 million....

Raising money from physicians, rather than from venture capitalists, has been a strong intentional preference since the company's founding in 2013. CEO Laurence Girard expounded on the philosophy in a recent Huffington Post editorial.

"Most venture capitalists will never interact with a patient, much less hold a medical degree," Girard wrote. "VC investors do not use your product. Our investors commonly use our product with their patients and provide valuable feedback we can use to continuously improve our product."

Fruit Street Health is currently focused on its digital diabetes prevention program (DPP), which has been targeted by a number of digital health startups because it is the only chronic disease prevention program currently reimbursable through Medicare.

Based in New York, Fruit Street offers a telemedicine service to providers that allows them to monitor patients via wearables, mobile apps and virtual visits. The clinician can pull up the patient's aggregated data on a virtual whiteboard during the teleconference and discuss it with them. 

The platform incorporates a number of connected health devices including wireless scales, Fitbits, blood pressure cuffs, and glucometers, as well as a mobile app for taking pictures of food that the company describes as "Instagram-like".

The company is one of many diabetes prevention programs (some digital and some in-person) that works with DPP marketplace Solera Health. Diabetes Prevention Programs are backed by a good deal of efficacy data, going back to a landmark 2002 study of in-person DPPs. 

Is the Market Ready for Connected Health?

Connected health brings healthcare to the patient, which is a win-win. But does it pay off for vendors and investors?

Connected health has huge promise – the ability to provide on-demand patient care, in the home has lots of appeal, from both the patient point of view as well as the service provider. While billions of dollars are being invested in health tech, one of the biggest struggles for innovators in this sector is finding the right business model that is commercially viable, according to healthcare investor Dave Chase.

According to The Next Silicon Valley, this struggle isn’t stopping some of the biggest players in healthcare from exploring health innovation:

But despite this – and figures vary according to different market research companies – the connected healthcare market is expected to reach US$105.33 billion by 2022. Plus, with players like Amazon reportedly having a secret team called 1492 exploring opportunities in digital health, and Apple earlier this year hiring a head of digital health, Sumbul Desai, from Stanford Medicine’s center for digital health, it certainly looks like there’s huge momentum growing in this sector.

This is made even more significant when you see the pharmaceutical giants slowly weighing into the potential for tech – like diabetes m-health, in which app developers such as mySugr and Glooko have extended deals with Roche and Novo Nordisk.

 With adoption on the rise for the last two years, it’s clear that consumers are ready for this technology:

New research suggests that consumer adoption of connected heath products has reached a new high in 2017. Over 40 percent of U.S. broadband households now own a connected health product, up from 37 percent in 2016 and 33 percent in 2015.

“The steady increase in consumer adoption of connected health products bodes well for the ongoing healthcare practice transformation,” says Harry Wang, senior director of research at Parks Associates, which is running the [Connected Health Summit]. “At the Connected Health Summit, we will examine the latest trends and opportunities in the med-tech industry and how the evolving healthcare industry can transform patient experiences.”

The Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers runs August 29-31 in San Diego, CA.