The Longevity

StartUp Health Takes an Inside Look at Velóce’s New Smartphone-Activated Pill

Veloce’s SmartTabs are not on the market yet. In fact, the company is still “in the process” of raising a $2 million seed round to finish developing the prototype and begin animal trials. But where they are looking to take medication management could revolutionize not just adherence but also absorption rates and effectiveness data, bringing us ever closer to personalized medicine. 

A digital health entrepreneur and pharmaceutical industry veteran, [Robert Niichel, CEO of Velóce Digital], believes that many of [our medication] efficacy and adherence problems can be attributed to how drugs are delivered. Most medications are contained within capsules or tablets, which are ingested by a patient, and enter their bloodstream after being dissolved in their digestive system. According to Niichel, it’s an inefficient method of drug delivery that’s difficultif not impossiblefor clinicians to monitor.

 In early 2016, Niichel launched Velóce Digital, a smart-pill startup based in Denver, Colorado, to make drug delivery systems more efficient.... Consisting of a smart polymer shell, the SmartTab capsule contains a sensor that constantly monitors its location and environment. The capsule sends this data to the SmartTab platform, which can be accessed from a smartphone or computer.

“SmartTab is a wireless drug delivery system,” Niichel said. “When consumers ingest one of our tablets, its contents remain protected until it’s remotely triggered to release them by a smartphone, smartwatch, or even a computer in a clinical setting.”

Although the team at Velóce imagines the pills gaining traction first in clinical settings, the goal is for the SmartTabs to be part of home medications regimens as well.

“As we move some of these drug delivery systems away from a medical setting and into the home,” [said Niichel,] “millions of dollars will be saved each year because we’ll be reducing visits to the doctor’s office.”

 The company received its first patent in February of this year and has more on the way.

Currently in its product’s prototype stage, Velóce Digital is working to reduce the size of the SmartTab capsule, increase the sensitivity of its sensors, and enhance the capabilities of its platform...When SmartTab is ready to go to market, Niichel plans to license the platform to large pharmaceutical companies like Merck as well as major technology companies like IBM. 

“Someday soon, most ingestible capsules will have some type of electronic system to collect data and release their active ingredients,” said Niichel. “This will lead to more timely decision-making and the optimization of drug delivery.”

 Though still an early stage startup, Velóce Digital has attracted several major partners. The company was admitted into StartUp Health last year, and joined Catalyst HTI, a Denver-based industry integrator, earlier this year.

Medication management remains one of the hottest areas in health tech for the 50+ marketplace, and for many areas of population health. This is undoubtedly due to the enormous cost savings potential.

In 2012, a team of researchers performed a comprehensive review of studies on medication non-adherence, a problem that occurs when patients do not take medication as prescribed. They found that medication non-adherence occurred in 20–30% of all cases, costing the U.S. healthcare system hundreds of billions of dollars and causing 125,000 deaths [and costing $300 billion] each year. 

 

3 Ways the Tech Revolution is Gaining Traction with Seniors and Caregivers

"Aging-in-place technology is helping to improve the aging experience for seniors and family caregivers," say Sally Abrahms, in a new piece written for Kiplinger's Retirement Report.

Whether already in use or still being tested, aging-in-place technology is improving the aging experience for seniors and family caregivers. Part of the reason: the development of artificial intelligence, or AI, and "big data." With AI, devices can react like humans after assessing a situation and learning someone's habits. Wearable gadgets—think Fitbit on steroids—can collect and analyze health data, while medical mini-machines monitor chronic conditions and customize treatment.

"Technology is a game-changer, improving older adults' independence, engagement and health and reducing their social isolation," says David Lindeman, director of the Center for Technology and Aging at the University of California, Berkeley. "Technologies we haven't even thought of today will be on the market in the next few years."

Adoption rates among caregivers are still relatively low, but there are several signs indicating we are nearing a tipping point when all that will change.

In a 2015 AARP survey, fewer than 10% of family caregivers said they use, or have used, technology for caregiving, but 71% said they were interested.

In the coming years, aging tech is likely to follow the pattern of smartphones, which gained traction in people's lives relatively quickly. Stand-alone devices are getting smaller, and apps are increasingly available for smartphones and tablets. Plus, aging technology is getting faster, cheaper and easier to use.

Abrahms breaks down the tech advances for seniors and caregivers into three main trends.

Virtual Reality

Although it began as a teen gaming phenomenon, virtual reality, or VR, is maturing into a technology for older adults. While still in its infancy, VR for seniors is gaining fans among physicians, long-term-care staff, researchers, physical therapists and family members.

For older adults with mobility issues or cabin fever, VR breaks up day-to-day monotony and loneliness, letting seniors "travel"—sky diving or swimming with whales, anyone?—without leaving home.

But VR offers more than just a good time. It's being studied as a way to reduce physical pain, opioid use, anxiety, stress and social isolation, and to improve mood.

Companies that get a special shout out from Abrahms for targeting this VR market for seniors include: RendeverAloha VRSamsung Electronics America

Social Robots

Although Amazon Echo's virtual assistant Alexa clearly leads the smart home pack, Google, Apple are Android have also come out with their own versions and are angling for market share. And those are just the big names. Startups are making their play as well.

These devices are multiplying. A 2016 report from market research company Tractica predicts that 100 million consumer robots will ship between 2015 and 2020—including bots that vacuum and mow the lawn.

Robots are not limited to stationary personal assistants, however. They can be like a pet, or provide a vital medical purpose like an exoskelton.

Some startups that Abrahms notes are paying attention to the specific need of the senior market include:

Virtual Assistants: Jibo and ELLI Q

Robotic pets: Front Porch and Hasbro's Joy for All Companion Pets

Rehabilitative / mobility robots: ReWalk Robotics

Digital Health Tech

Digital health technology is on the verge of exploding and the senior market is no exception to this, despite the conventional wisdom that this demographic is tech-resistant. This category is, as our regular readers know, a regular focus of ours at The Longevity Network. It also encompasses a staggering array of products and services.

"Connected" health technology is a godsend for people who want to grow old in their homes and retain their independence. According to an industry report by MarketResearch.com, the market for connected smart sensors is expected to reach $117 billion by 2020. Health tech lets users get help in an emergency with mobile medic alert–like personal emergency response systems [PERS]; track health and habits via wearable devices that gather biometric cardiac, respiratory, sleep and activity data; and monitor chronic conditions. It also lets patients speak with doctors remotely in real time (known as telemedicine), partake in virtual rehab, anticipate falls and manage medication.

Through GPS, sensors, chips, cameras, voice activation, cellular connectivity and smartphone monitoring apps, technology provides a way to share information and offers peace of mind to family caregivers and loved ones.

Some notable startups in a few of these different digital health for senior sub-categories include:

Health monitoring tech: AliveCor

Mental health and wellbeing:Posit's Brain HQ, Rosetta Stone's Fit BrainsGrandCare and Independa

Medication Management: Medminder, Reminder Rosie, e-PillPillPack and Proteus Digital Health

Smart contact lenses: NovartisMedella Health

FDA Commissioner Announces Pilot for Expediting Approval of Digital Health Products

Just a few weeks into his role as the US Food and Drug (FDA) Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb has announced that providing clear guidance on digital health regulation--and expediting approval for low-risk digital health products and services--is a priority for the agency. (Read his original letter on FDA's blog).

[Late last week], Gottlieb...announced an upcoming pilot program that would create a third-party certification program under which lower-risk digital health products could be marketed without FDA premarket review and higher-risk products could be marketed with a streamlined FDA review.

The pilot, part of a new approach to regulating digital health tools, would help to certify, according to Gottlieb, whether a company "consistently and reliably engages in high quality software design and testing (validation) and ongoing maintenance of its software products. Employing a unique pre-certification program for software as a medical device (SaMD) could reduce the time and cost of market entry for digital health technologies."

This effort to provide clearer guidelines and expedited processes for digital health products is all part of FDA's implementation of the 21st Century CURES Act that was passed in December at the tail end of the Obama Administration. The Cures Act, passed with an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, aims to "boost funding for medical research, ease the development and approval of experimental treatments and reform federal policy on mental health care," according to a Washington Post article at the time.

"...FDA will provide new guidance on other technologies that, although not addressed in the 21st Century Cures Act, present low enough risks that FDA does not intend to subject them to certain pre-market regulatory requirements," Gottlieb wrote in FDA’s Voice Blog.

FDA also will provide guidance clarifying its stance on products that contain multiple software functions and which currently fall outside FDA regulations.

The push into digital health comes as Bakul Patel, ‎associate center director for digital health at FDA, recently told conference attendees that guidance related to software as a medical device, and a new dedicated unit to digital health are coming to FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). 

(See our coverage of FDA's new digital health unit here).

Gottleib also touted the role of a universal method for collecting post-market data on digital health products and using that data in turn to expedite new or evolving product functions.

"For example, product developers could leverage real-world data gathered through the National Evaluation System for health Technology (NEST) to expedite market entry and subsequent expansion of indications more efficiently ... The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership, is serving as an independent coordinating center that operates NEST. In the coming weeks, MDIC will announce the establishment of a Governing Committee for the NEST Coordinating Center comprised of stakeholder representatives of the ecosystem, such as patients, health care professionals, health care organizations, payers, industry, and government," Gottlieb wrote.

NEST’s fully operational system is expected to come by the end of 2019.

There’s a New Health Care Incubator in Silicon Valley, Funded with a $20M Donation to Sutter Health

Human-centered care will be the focus of the new incubator—named Innovation Hatchery—and through its affiliation with Sutter Health’s not-for-profit healthcare network, the hope is for solutions

A Silicon Valley couple has donated to $20 million to Sutter Health to establish an innovation center focused on human-centered care. The Michael and Judith Gaulke Innovation Hatchery Endowment Fund at Sutter Health will serve as an incubator identifying innovative solutions to healthcare challenges, validating their effectiveness in real-world provider settings and integrating them into patient care as quickly and safely as possible.

Sutter’s Innovation Hatchery will validate innovative ideas during 90-day sprints focused in five key areas:

- Primary care

- Mothers and babies

- Mental health

- Compassionate hospitalization

- End-of-life care

The fast iterative approach will result in quicker implementation of practices that can benefit patients in real-time and shape their experiences for the better.

The Gaulkes have a longstanding relationship with Sutter Health and expressed enthusiasm and optimism about the prospects for valuable innovations emerging from Hatchery.

The Gaulkes are cancer survivors and longtime Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) patients and advocates...Michael serves on the PAMF Community Board of Trustees and is currently the Chair of the Sutter Health Board of Trustees              

 “Judy and I made this gift to Sutter Health because we wholeheartedly believe in what the Hatchery is doing to marry promising innovations with what patients need most,” Gaulke said in a statement. “It’s going to take the kind of innovative breakthroughs that come to life every day in Northern California to make a difference in healthcare, and we believe in Sutter’s approach to ‘hatching’ new ideas to improve care quality and access for the better. Judy and I are incredibly optimistic. We believe that investing today will increase our chances of seeing significant change in healthcare tomorrow, so that there is real progress in our lifetime.”

Forbes Looks at How the Internet of Medical Things Will Alter Future of Caregiving, Part II

Yesterday, we covered the first half of Forbes’ article on advances in the Internet of Medical Things, and today, we turn to the second half.

But first, a review of the context:

In 2013, AARP coined the term “caregiving cliff”—that impending moment when the number of older adults needing some level of caregiving will vastly outnumber those human beings able to provide care. In 2010, there were 7 able adults for every 1 needing care. By 2030, the ratio will be just 4 to 1, and by 2050, it will fall to 3 to 1.

But the issue is not just a shortage of caregivers; it’s also the cost of care. In a recent article for Forbes, writer Reenita Das elaborates:

For example the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that while the U.S. elderly population in 2010 was about 13%, it accounted for 34% of the total healthcare expenditure. As life expectancy rises in the future, the share of expenditure, too, is expected to rise. It is also estimated that elderly health expenditure may more than double between the ages of 70 and 90, depending on the region. With rising pressure on governments, payers and manufacturers to reduce healthcare costs, senior care needs solutions in order to be prepared for this impending rise in expenditure.

As AARP argues, however, the convergence of the caregiving cliff and the skyrocketing cost of providing care to so many aging baby boomers should be seen as an enormous economic opportunity. (They also identified six specific “caregiving frontiers” ripe for innovation—frontiers that, along with nine “health frontiers”, define the themes covered by The Longevity Network).

Entrepreneurs and investors have listened to that call for caregiving innovation.

Forbes recently provided their own short list of the ten ways the medical internet of things (MIoT) is going to revolutionize senior care. Here we take a look at the first five, paired with some of The Longevity Network’s very own Entrepreneur of the Week profiles.

Again, yesterday, we covered the first five ways, and here, we take a look at 6-10.

  1. Disability Assistance Tools

Varied smart products are available for some disabilities that seniors suffer from hearing difficulty to sensory or cognitive impairment.

The Longevity Network’s “Entrepreneur of the Week” Examples:

GTX Corp: pioneer and innovator in Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS, cellular and BLE tracking and recovery location based services. 

Timeless: simple and easy to use mobile app for Alzheimer’s patients to remember events, stay connected and engaged with friends and family, and to recognize people through automatic Artificial Intelligence based facial recognition technology.

GoGoGrandparent: a service to connect older adults to on-demand services for rides, meals and groceries via any phone without needing to use a smartphone app

SafeWander: a wearable sensor made by SensaRx that sends an alert to a caregiver’s mobile device when a loved one or patient gets up from a bed or chair, even if the caregiver is far away

NeuroCern: a dementia population health analytics and care management software solution that helps improve health and financial outcomes for patients, family caregivers, and healthcare enterprise stakeholders

RespondWell: Telerehab solution that gives care teams the transparency needed to monitor patient condition and advance patient recovery through a gamified approach to rehabilitation with on-screen digital instructors and incentives

Constant Therapy: a platform for providing customized therapy tools to those with brain injury, stroke, aphasia, and other brain conditions

MedRhythms: a neuro-rehab company, providing interventions to achieve optimum outcomes in sensorimotor, speech & language, and cognitive goals in patients

Audicus: high quality, customized hearing aids affordable and accessible by offering them online without the markups found at a clinic

Liftware: Liftware currently offers two products that stabilize and level handles and attachments for people with hand tremor or limited hand and arm mobility

  1. Smart Implants

Pacemakers that communicate data to smartphone apps for sharing with physicians (Medtronic MyCareLink), sensors that are embedded in orthopedic implants to communicate performance post-surgery (OrthoSensor) or glucose sensors that communicate diabetics’ glucose levels to smartphones or dedicated readers (such as products in development by GlySens, Senseonics, Echo Therapeutics or Google’s smart lens) are all examples of smart implants. These can help seniors take care of their health and manage their conditions better, ensuring medical intervention is sought immediately when required.

  1. Smart Senior Homes

Care staff can monitor seniors with the use of wrist-worn wearables that track their location as well as activities performed (such as bathing, walking, sleeping, etc…But the true power of the technology lies in machine learning and predictive analytics to derive insights from seniors’ daily routines as well as any deviations. Insights could include emerging physical or mental health conditions, which can help alert care providers to the need for immediate medical intervention. 

The Longevity Network’s “Entrepreneur of the Week” Examples:

Marvee (2017 LivePitch finalist):  voice-enabled assistant to connect users with limited vision, mobility, or other challenges with their caregivers

 Home for Life Design: a home assessment service followed by recommendations for products and services to help seniors and baby boomers age in place safely and comfortably.

  1. Family Caregiver Remote Monitoring Tools

There are a plethora of devices which ensure that seniors are constantly but non-intrusively monitored and receive immediate attention and medical assistance when it may be needed the most…Any deviation in routine will be detected, and family members can contact seniors to ensure that seniors are, indeed, all right. 

The Longevity Network’s “Entrepreneur of the Week” Examples:

Care3: a patient and family engagement platform for coordinating post-acute care to improve outcomes and reduce costly hospital readmissions for underserved populations including seniors, people of color, and the disabled

OnKöl: a caregiving hub that enables third-party connected home sensors to work in conjunction with health sensors such as Blood Pressure Cuffs, Blood Glucose Meters, Scales, and mainstream activity trackers to connect seniors with their family and caregivers.

Caremerge: a HIPAA-compliant communication and care coordination network that keeps the entire care team informed and cohesive through an intuitive interface

  1. Other Approaches

Several innovative devices are being developed to address medical challenges. Consider the Opnwatr.IO approach of developing a wearable device that could provide MRI-level details in the bodies or brains of wearers. For seniors, this means not having to frequently undergo expensive procedures, and receiving more knowledge about their conditions without the discomfort of being surrounded by large scanning machines, and at a much lower cost. Another device is the Gyenno "Smart Cup" for Parkinson’s patients, allowing them to use cups independently despite tremors they may be experiencing. Sensors detect and help counteract the action of tremors to keep the cup steady. Similar spoon and fork products, although not necessarily true IoMT devices, are also available from Gyenno as well as LiftLabs. These products can help seniors become independent, and help reduce, at least partly, the costs of constant care support.

Forbes Looks at How the Internet of Medical Things Will Alter Future of Caregiving, Part I

In 2013, AARP coined the term “caregiving cliff”—that impending moment when the number of older adults needing some level of caregiving will vastly outnumber those (human beings) able to provide care. In 2010, there were 7 able adults for every 1 needing care. By 2030, the ratio will be just 4 to 1, and by 2050, it will fall to 3 to 1.

But the issue is not just a shortage of caregivers; it’s also the cost of care. In a recent article for Forbes, writer Reenita Das elaborates:

For example the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that while the U.S. elderly population in 2010 was about 13%, it accounted for 34% of the total healthcare expenditure. As life expectancy rises in the future, the share of expenditure, too, is expected to rise. It is also estimated that elderly health expenditure may more than double between the ages of 70 and 90, depending on the region. With rising pressure on governments, payers and manufacturers to reduce healthcare costs, senior care needs solutions in order to be prepared for this impending rise in expenditure.

As AARP argues, however, the convergence of the caregiving cliff and the skyrocketing cost of providing care to so many aging baby boomers should be seen as an enormous economic opportunity. (They also identified six specific “caregiving frontiers” ripe for innovation—frontiers that, along with nine “health frontiers”, define the themes covered by The Longevity Network).

Entrepreneurs and investors have listened to that call for caregiving innovation.

Forbes recently provided their own short list of the ten ways the medical internet of things (MIoT) is going to revolutionize senior care. Here we take a look at the first five, paired with some of The Longevity Network’s very own Entrepreneur of the Week profiles. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the remaining five.

  1. Vitals-Tracking Wearables

A majority of seniors suffer from non-communicable diseases, including cardiac ailments, diabetes and hypertension. For cardiac patients, heart monitors that can monitor ailments such as arrhythmia and can alert doctors to adverse events in real time and help prevent further complications…"Smart" glucometers…can communicate measured blood glucose readings to an app on a smartphone for storage, tracking and managing diabetes can help elderly patients better manage their diabetes. Regular activity monitoring and heart rate monitoring can be achieved by one of several available consumer wearable devices and smartwatches. 

The Longevity Network’s Examples:

Siren Care (Winner of Audience Choice Award at AARP’s 2017 Innovation@50+ LivePitch event)

iBeat (2017 LivePitch finalist)

Proteus Digital Health

Sensoria

  1. Medication Adherence Tools

Seniors have several medications they need to take, and with age, remembering everything becomes a challenge. Missed doses can result in exacerbation of medical conditions, and in some severe cases can even lead to serious consequences requiring hospitalization. Several IoMT products address this challenge by helping users remember when to take their medication.

The Longevity Network’s Entrepreneur of the Week Examples:

PillDrill (2017 LivePitch finalist)

Medisafe

Trillio

AdhereTech

Veridrop

  1. Virtual Home Assistants

Virtual [robotic] assistants like Catalia Health’s Mabu robot or Intuition Robotics ElliQ robot…interact with seniors via voice and touchscreens, [and] they can also help them stay connected with their family and friends digitally–via social media platforms and video chat. Additionally, they can help patients remember to take their medications, take notes and remind patients about their care providers’ medical advice. 

Apart from robots, another category of virtual assistants is voice-interactive digital assistants like Amazon Echo or the healthcare-specific version provided by Lenovo Health in partnership with Orbita Health. For seniors, such devices can be used for medication adherence and care coordination, as well as patient engagement, all areas in which (considerable) healthcare cost savings can be made.

The Longevity Network’s Entrepreneur of the Week Examples:

Marvee (2017 LivePitch finalist)

  1. Portable Diagnostics Devices

Instead of frequently visiting a pathology laboratory for getting urine or blood tests done, smart and portable diagnostics devices can help seniors perform such tests in the comfort of their homes, and get results in formats that allow them to be instantly shared with their care providers…[As more tests become available remotely, the] added convenience means seniors can perform diagnostic tests more frequently, helping to diagnose diseases and thus to begin treatment sooner, ensuring complications are prevented to save avoidable healthcare costs.

  1. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)

Several products are already well established and serve many needs of seniors, inside and outside of their residences, such as fall detection, emergency assistance and navigation guidance back to residence (for dementia patients, for example) or even boundary perimeter breach alerts (for Alzheimer’s patients, for example). Some products even include additional features such as medication reminders…In addition, a unique concept that goes beyond simple fall detection is that of ActiveProtective’s smart belt, which detects falls and deploys air bags to prevent fall-related injuries and uses Bluetooth technology to trigger an alert to designated emergency contacts. Technologies such as these can help save avoidable fall-related healthcare costs.

The Longevity Network’s Entrepreneur of the Week Examples:

iBeat (2017 LivePitch finalist)

Walkjoy

Space Entrepreneur Turns Attention to AI-Powered Personalized Nutrition Startup

Is AI ready to tackle the complex project of figuring out what each individual ought to eat—or not eat—in order to maximize health and wellness or even prevent chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s? Naveen Jain intends to find out.

Naveen Jain is co-founder of Moon Express, a company that hopes to mine the moon for resources. That company hasn't yet reached the moon (though it's scheduled to happen this year) and already Jain is starting his next audacious venture: Viome, a health care company that aims to use artificial intelligence to try to improve customers' health. The Bellevue, Washington-based company is launching its services on Wednesday.

Viome claims that with proper diet and nutrition, people can fight off the chronic diseases to which they're most susceptible. The company says that by analyzing a person's molecular makeup and microbiome--the collection of trillions of microbes within the gut--it can tailor a diet to fit his or her needs.

Jain is basing his latest moonshot startup on decades of research showing the importance of diet and nutrition in warding off chronic disease.

Jain notes that Parkinson's and Alzheimer's start 10 or 15 years before patients see the first symptoms. "What if you could help find the earliest possible biomarker and essentially find a way to prevent it from happening so you never see the symptoms?"

"We were really thinking about: How can we fundamentally create a world where sickness is optional?" Jain says. "What if we can prevent every chronic disease from happening?"

While no one disputes the consistent data on the importance of diet, experts say we are a long way from identifying all the factors for a given individual which would truly prevent an illness.

"In general, diet and exercise can help lower risk and potentially prevent many chronic diseases, but we are not at the point where illness is optional," says Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, whose research focuses on the roles of nutrition and genetics in human illnesses. "From the perspective of established science, that goal seems a ways off."

 "If, for example, you follow 1,000 people who have a healthy lifestyle and 1,000 who don't," he says, "without question there will be many more chronic diseases that develop in the 1,000 who don't have a healthy lifestyle. But we have limited ability to predict specifically who will or will not develop disease."

Adam Drewnowski, a professor of nutritional sciences in the University of Washington's epidemiology department, says that while the gut microbiome is an exciting and budding area of study, there is little hard science on how it might influence specific conditions. "It's very new and very controversial," he says. "There are some very interesting links that are currently being established. But to [suggest] that microbiome imbalance causes something like Alzheimer's at this point, I would think, is something of an overstatement."

Viome intends to utilize a direct-to-consumer model, similar to other startups seeking to provide personalized nutrition recommendations.

For $999 per year up front or $99 monthly, Viome customers will use a kit sent by the company each quarter to take blood, urine, stool, and saliva samples, and then send them back for testing. Using microbiome analysis technology first developed in Los Alamos Lab to combat disease warfare, the company takes the samples and creates RNA and metabolic profiles for each customer. Artificial intelligence then helps make dietary recommendations, like whether a person should eat more beets or broccoli or reduce their intake of fava beans, as well as suggestions for what vitamins and supplements to take.

Israeli startup DayTwo, set to launch this spring, will charge a $299 signup fee, plus a to-be-determined monthly subscription fee, to analyze stool samples and create a personalized nutrition app that will provide meal recommendations.

Other startups, like Arivale and Habit, are using similar screening methods to help customers optimize their diets. Arivale connects customers with a nutritional coach, while Habit adds the option of meal delivery.

Jain has already recruited some impressive talent to head his team and has some cash behind the venture.

Viome recently hired Guruduth Banavar, the former head of cognitive computing at IBM Research who spent years working on Watson, to lead its A.I. efforts. Down the line, Jain says, it will be seeking FDA approval so it can use its technology to diagnose diseases.

The startup's chief medical scientist is Helen Messier, a doctor who was most recently working for Human Longevity, a health startup. Momo Vuyisich, the company's chief scientist, led the team that developed the technology at Los Alamos Lab, which co-owns the technology along with the startup.

Viome is the first subsidiary of BlueDot, another company founded by Jain, which will focus on licensing technology from research labs. BlueDot has $10 million in funding from investors including CerraCap Ventures, Gold Ventures, and a variety of entrepreneurs.

Beta testing is underway, so it shouldn’t be long before the kits are available for consumer purchase.

As for the doubters—Jain thinks they'll be proven wrong.

"People said Moon Express was a crazy idea, and we're within months of going to the moon for under $10 million," he says. "Every single idea, the day before the breakthrough, seems like a crazy idea."

Brain Tracking Device Company Raises $1.5M, Bringing Total Funding to $4.5M

Recent AARP Innovation@50+ LivePitch Finalist, BrainCheck, has just secured an additional $1.5 million in a round led by True Wealth Ventures, “a start-up venture capital fund for women with ideas to change the world. Founded by Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp, the fund focuses on women-led companies in the consumer health and sustainability sectors”.

BrainCheck is a mobile brain health tracking solution, and this investment brings the total seed funding to $4.5 million since the company was founded in 2015.

This most recent round of funding will support BrainCheck as the company expands global sales and delivery across its multi-million dollar cognitive health pipeline.

The company established itself with athletic teams seeking to monitor traumatic brain injuries, and is seeking to adapt its proprietary technology to the needs of the aging population.

BrainCheck is the result of 20 years of research conducted at the Eagleman Laboratory for Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine and is one of the only clinically or at-home accessible cognitive health monitoring applications on the market...

“This additional funding enables us to accelerate our growth, expand our channels, and deliver on our promise of democratizing brain health,” says Dr. Yael Katz, Cofounder and CEO of BrainCheck. “Whether the concern is a head injury, memory loss, or cognitive impairment, we’re scaling our ability to deliver rapid and reliable cognitive health monitoring for families, caregivers, and clinicians to positively affect change and improve outcomes.”

BrainCheck is among a small group of women-led digital health companies finding success in raising venture capital.

Of the digital health companies funded in 2016, only 9% have a woman CEO. Accounting for all venture capital, only 2% of venture dollars go to women-led startups and 17% to those with a woman on the leadership team.

Alternatively, the lack of women investors in venture capital can also result in many women’s health products and technologies being overlooked as market opportunities. True Wealth Ventures believes there are clear advantages for companies with women on the management team in designing products for, selling to, and servicing women’s healthcare needs. With more women-led venture capital firms and women leaders targeting healthcare, previously unaddressed opportunities and patient needs have a greater opportunity to be solved.

BrainCheck has also championed the project of achieving more gender equity in the research done on brain injury and dementia.

Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, two-thirds of them are women. Additionally, two-thirds of dementia caregivers are women.

Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, has called on researchers to address the existing gaps in our understanding of increased dementia risk in women.

“The accumulation of women impacted by cognitive health conditions, either directly or as primary caretakers, lends a clear advantage to women healthcare leaders to better serve the needs of today’s female patients,” says Kerry Rupp, True Wealth Ventures’ General Partner. “In the United States, women make over 80% of healthcare decisions for their families. Using BrainCheck to monitor their cognitive health, women and their families are more prepared to understand and track what is happening in their brain and act on that information.”

The Longevity Network’s Guide To Pitching Digital Health & Caregiving Investors

Entrepreneurs are compelling—captivating even—because of their passion, their willingness to take risks, and their backstory of how they came to be so passionate and willing to take risks. So everything you’ve read about 1) making your pitch aspirational; 2) being creative in capturing “the problem” you’re trying to solve and 3) adding a personal story about why you care about this problem—those are all good tips. You want to convey the entrepreneurial persona when you have those few minutes of an investor’s time.

However, the aura is not usually enough, in particular, for investors experienced in the health tech and caregiving space for the 50+ market. This sector is uncommonly complex. To name just a few reasons: we have both public and private payers, enormous variety in providers, convoluted regulations dictating the behavior of payers and providers and a whole slew of shifting dynamics among aging but capable older adults and their paid and unpaid caregivers (the latter of which often bring geographical distance and complicated family dynamics into the picture).

So what else do you need to make sure you convey in a successful pitch? Here's a curated list pulled from real feedback investors gave entrepreneurs after hearing their pitches.

THE BASICS

Even if you’ve successfully conveyed the entrepreneurial aura, your potential investor can still be left wondering about the basics: who is the user and who is the buyer? These fundamentals of your business plan should not be left to clarify during the Q&A, so when practicing your pitch, make sure you clearly convey who benefits and who pays.

THE DETAILS

Time is of the essence when developing your pitch, so the details of the business plan cannot always be included, but make sure you are fully conversant in those details should any questions come up afterwards. For example, here are a few questions coaches asked during AARP’s recent Innovation@50+ LivePitch event in Mountain View, CA.

- What does it cost for consumers now and what will it look like when you add b2b? What problem are b2b customers most interested in solving for?

- How do you provide value back to the payers?

- How many units do you need to sell to be profitable

- What is the lifetime value of a customer?

- What if your user varies their behavior, e.g., doesn’t take their meds at home one day?

- Tell me more about the data integration with your app.

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION & SCALING UP

If you haven’t yet heard of CAC, now is the time to learn about it because every investor worth their salt will be asking. Cost of (Customer) Acquisition is important for every startup but particularly for startups whose product is software and / or if your target customer is a payer or provider because those sales cycles are notoriously long.

If you aren’t tracking CAC yet, start now and come to any future pitch armed with data.

Here are some versions of the way you may be asked this question:

- How does acquisition happen?

- How do people find you?

- What data do you have on the cost of acquisition—i.e., growth cost versus cost of maintenance?

- How do you integrate into these health systems specifically, i.e., who do you target and how do you locate the decision makers?

Closely related to acquisition cost questions are questions about the costs involved in scaling up? You will want to be conversant how hiring, training, and marketing play into your business.

You may hear, for example:

- Would you need to build a fairly sizable marketing engine to scale?

- Have you calculated how large a sales team you would need to hit target customer numbers?

- What percentage of your scaling up operation is human-driven and what percentage is based on marketing campaigns?

- Do you have any organic referrals happening yet or are you generating all your own leads?

TEAM

This is a brief lesson: investors know that execution of the business plan is one of the top 3 or 4 factors in the success of startup. Being the impassioned, visionary founder is compelling, but don’t forget to highlight the domain expertise, technical abilities or marketing savvy of your fellow team members. Any previous success with a startup venture is particularly good to highlight.

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

Having a plan in place for building strategic partnerships may be what separates the unicorns (or even reasonable success stories) from the zombies doomed by an unforgivingly high CAC. Every digital health or caregiving tech startup faces an uphill battle, and investors know it. The space is inefficient and the market is enormous—which is to say, ripe for disruption—but breaking in is still tough and many a startup with a great idea and a talented team has run out of cash before achieving that market traction crucial to securing Series A or even sufficient seed funding.

But don’t show up with a vague reference to how you will soon begin developing those strategic partnerships. Have a concrete list in mind of who they might be and, importantly, what it would mean to be “partners”.  Would they be:

- Distribution channels?

- A marketing platform?

- Willing to pay for kind of data you will be collecting or producing as a by-product?

PILOTS

Pilots for digital health and health IT products have become very popular in recent years. Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, one of the largest operators of senior care facilities in the country, has even developed an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program. (See our in-depth exclusive of the program here).

It’s a great idea to highlight any past or current pilots during a pitch, but because they have become so prevalent, make sure you are prepared to provide plenty of detail so it conveys your skillful execution.

Questions you may hear from investors:

- What have been your biggest learnings from consumer-facing pilot?

- What was the number 1 request you received from your customer during your pilot?

And crucially,

- Is there anything in place to roll this pilot into a paying contract automatically, if say, a certain benchmark is achieved?

Investors will love to hear that you have negotiated that conversion to paying customer ahead of time, because they have already seen too many startups die a slow cycle of “death by pilot”.

DIFFERENTIATION FROM COMPETITORS

This key indicator should arguably be at the top, included under “the basics”. Any smart investor will want to know as much as possible about the competitive landscape, and it may be up to you to educate them on it, depending on how niche your product or service is.

Again, this is not a topic to leave for the Q&A—it should be defined and then reinforced during your pitch.

This is particularly true if you are attempting to break into an already crowded field. As one judge from LivePitch told a contestant: “be stone cold on your differentiator and your creativity, because there are a LOT of these on the market”.

Here are a few ways to frame it:

- How do you differentiate from competitors?

- What competitor scares you the most?

- Do you have anything proprietary—patents or trademarks—that would secure your market differentiation?

Pitching has become its own art form, so the competition is stiff. The better prepared you can be shows not just that you value the time and expertise of the investor but also, that you understand your business model from top to bottom. And that—reinforces the entrepreneurial mystique.  

Report: Digital Disruption in Healthcare is $8.7 Trillion Global Juggernaut

This month, Business Insider released a teaser of some of the top findings from its new report on digital disruption in healthcare. Its first finding? This juggernaut is now impossible to stop.

Whether patients and their doctors are ready or not, though, digital disruption in health care will only accelerate in the years ahead.

The scope of the report is comprehensive.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we analyze digital disruption in health care, looking at clinical operations and the role of electronic medical records. We identify the expanded scope of medical care and how patients will use health devices in their everyday lives, as well as survey the possible impediments to the digitization of health care in regulation, workflow resistance, and privacy concerns.

Here are some highlights from BI Intelligence’s report:

  • Digital is already disrupting health care in a number of sectors; electronic health record use is climbing and will near saturation as third parties figure out new and better ways to link and comb through that data.
  • Companies are developing all sorts of tools and equipment that doctors and nurses will use to gain new and greater insight into their patients, from connected scales to smart beds, and even augmented reality (AR) glasses.
  • There are clear hurdles to disruptive digital technology in health care, including regulation, staff buy-in, and privacy concerns. However, these barriers are starting to fall as the benefits of connected devices grow more apparent. 

The full BI Intelligence report promises to:

  • Explain the role of digital technology in medicine, and how it is and will continue to disrupt health care.
  • Provide an overview of disruption in clinical care, the health records space, and care in everyday life.
  • Analyze how the growth of digital health technologies will save time and reduce costs for the health care sector.

The full report can be Purchased & Downloaded or you can learn more about subscribing for an all-access pass to BI Intelligence.