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Five Transformative Healthcare Technologies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

2017 was a record-breaking year by every measure for investment in new healthcare technology, soaring to more than $25 billion according to a report on AngelMD. The breakout year is a continuation of an upward trend, as spending on healthcare innovation steadily climbs year by year. According to Startup Health Insights, funding for digital health startups has grown from nearly $3 billion in 2013 to well over $8 billion in 2016. As efforts to innovate healthcare grow every year, one thing is becoming clear: entrepreneurs, health systems, payors, and investors are all growing increasingly eager to completely transform healthcare.

Although the intensifying focus on healthcare innovation in 2017 by a growing number of organizations is an encouraging sign, the amount of money thrown at a problem isn’t a measure of success. Healthcare consumers and providers alike have yet to experience the transformative impact promised by new technology, while healthcare costs stubbornly continue to rise by about 5 percent every year despite the promise that innovation can curb those costs.

The problem is not a shortage of inventive solutions. 2017 saw a number of headline-grabbing breakthroughs, from reversing paralysis with brain implants to major advances in artificial intelligence. More and more companies are working to innovate care. On AngelList alone there are more than 17,000 healthcare startup companies, with new ideas for healthcare solutions popping up on nearly a daily basis. And last year tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple increased their stakes in the game through major healthcare startup investments and acquisitions.

One reason inventive ideas in healthcare have a hard time trickling down to affect the healthcare consumer is that they face unique hurdles to gaining adoption by doctors and insurers. A revolutionary app or cutting edge medical device could have all the promise in the world, but if it doesn’t get buy-in from providers, administrators, insurance companies, and patients, it will never effect meaningful change. According to a recent research paper by UK innovation foundation Nesta, investment in new healthcare technologies outpaces investment in initiatives to adopt and spread those technologies. The result is an “innovation pile-up,” which compounds difficulties for innovators in finding buyers, and vice-versa—a situation known as “search friction.”

We designed the Smart Health Innovation Lab to help market-ready innovations overcome those hurdles and gain meaningful adoption. There is no shortage of innovation labs that help companies ideate and build new products, but when it comes to crossing the finish line and gaining adoption, entrepreneurs are too often left on their own.

As we prepare to open the doors of our new lab in 2018, we’re planning to help more innovations gain a foothold in the healthcare marketplace. In the process we’ve extensively surveyed the field of healthcare innovation, and here is a short list of five transformative technologies we believe could make an impact in 2018:


1. Sansoro Health

Funding amount: $6.4 million

Last Funding Round: Series A

Impact: Operations, Patient and Provider Experience, Data Management

The Company: This Healthcare startup based in Minneapolis is working to bring Electronic Medical Records’ (EMRs) interoperability to health systems nationwide.

The Tech: Sansoro software allows digital health applications and EMRs to exchange real-time data seamlessly. Their team claims that their software can reduce integration time from months to days and that it streamlines workflows, decreases maintenance costs, and minimizes risk.

Why We Like it: EMR interoperability is a major issue that needs to be resolved in order to create a better, more streamlined patient and provider experience.  In response, Sansoro Health claims to provide secure, open APIs that shorten integration time, reduce maintenance and development costs, and deliver scalable results.


2. Propeller

Funding amount: $44.25 million

Last Funding Round: Series C

Impact: Respiratory Health Management, Outcomes, Patient Experience

The Company: This late-stage venture backed by high-profile investors is making asthma and COPD management easier.

The Tech: The Propeller sensor attaches to most inhalers and syncs with the Propeller app to deliver actionable insights that help patients better manage their respiratory conditions.

Why We Like it: Propeller Health says that its simple solution can turn an existing medical delivery device into a smart device in a cost-effective way and can drive meaningful results, with 79% fewer asthma attacks, 50% more doses taken on schedule, and 50% more symptom-free days.


3. Sentrian

Funding amount: $13.25 million

Last Funding Round: Series A2

Impact: Patient and Provider Experience, Preventative Care, Chronic Disease Management

The Company: This physician-founded startup uses a big data analytics platform and biosensors to provide remote health intelligence for patients when they’re away from the doctor.

The Tech: The Sentrian Remote Patient Intelligence system uses biosensors and clinician-directed machine learning to remotely detect patient deterioration and reduce preventable hospitalizations.

Why We Like it: This team brings a lot of medical expertise to solving one of healthcare’s costliest problems: chronic disease management and preventable hospitalization. They claim that, by using machine learning to reduce false alarms, their solution helps to reduce the burden on scarce care managers, while keeping patients healthier.


4. Lark

Funding amount: $18.17 million

Last Funding Round: Series B

Impact: Chronic Disease Management, Payer cost curve

The Company: This esteemed AI company is providing personal AI health coaches to help patients manage chronic conditions.

The Tech: Lark’s award-winning AI platform delivers personalized coaching on your mobile phone for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension as well as lifestyle coaching for personal wellness.

Why We Like it: A recent JMIR study revealed that Lark’s AI coaches are as effective as in-person healthcare professionals. The Lark team is partnering with insurers to bring down healthcare costs by improving behavioral health and advancing preventative wellness.


5. Iris – Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems

Funding Amount: $13.29 million

Last Funding Round: Series B

Impact: Diagnostics, Outcomes, Operations, Diabetes

The Company: This Florida-based startup is working to improve diagnostics for diabetic retinopathy and end preventable blindness.

The Tech: They offer an end-to-end diabetic retinopathy solution that optimizes diagnostic workflows, enhances diagnostic images with proprietary software, and provides actionable analytics for decision support.

Why We Like it: This end-to-end solution has shown promising results. Iris asserts that its image enhancement software reduced the percentage of ungradable images from 20% to 4% and that, by making diagnostics easy enough for primary care centers to handle, it increased exam rates from 32% to 72% while improving the experience for the patient.


These and other bold, market-ready healthcare technologies could help to transform our healthcare system into one that’s more affordable, convenient, and effective. What they lack is help gaining adoption by providers and reimbursement by payors–preventing them from realizing their potential to effect widespread change. We’re here to help fill that void. If you’re a healthcare innovator with a market-ready product, and you’re struggling to gain adoption, learn about our Smart Health Certification Program here!

Disclaimer: Our content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment based on your own personal circumstances. You should take independent financial advice from a professional in connection with, or independently research and verify, any information that you find on our Website and wish to rely upon, whether for the purpose of making an investment decision or otherwise.

Why Breaking Down Silos is the Key to Innovating Healthcare

Why Breaking Down Silos is the Key to Innovating Healthcare

When it comes to innovation, healthcare often lags behind other major industries. It’s not because of technological barriers; we have more technological solutions available to us than we’ve ever had. Big data, artificial intelligence, sophisticated sensors, and mobile technology are viewed as solutions that will improve health outcomes, lower costs, and revolutionize the healthcare experience for both patients and doctors. And yet, these advanced technologies haven’t been able to make a large-scale impact on healthcare in a truly meaningful way.

To understand the problem, it’s important to understand the complexity of the healthcare marketplace. Healthcare innovators must navigate a fractured ecosystem of diverse stakeholders who have differing objectives and perspectives. And those stakeholders too often work in silos with a narrow focus on their own organization’s goals, instead of sharing resources, data, or a broader vision with other companies.

The long-standing operational silos in healthcare make it extremely difficult to create lasting change, according to a recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review. Silos encourage episodic care and prevent providers from moving to a more holistic model that offers continuous and comprehensive services. They also impede important information sharing that could improve the life of the patient.

Data silos among hospitals, clinics, digital health devices, insurance companies, and EHR vendors create a disjointed healthcare experience and keep new healthcare solutions from evolving, according to surgeon and UCLA professor Patrick Soon-Shiong in a Healthcare IT News article.

To innovate the healthcare experience and advance new technologies that can improve outcomes and lower costs, it’s going to take a team effort. Silos will have to come down.

The Smart Health Innovation Lab was founded on that premise. Collaboration is the key to helping new technologies make a real impact in the complex healthcare market place. Through collaborative innovation, we can build a better healthcare system that connects all of the dots.

Founded by Aspire Ventures, Capital BlueCross, Clio Health, and Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine, the Smart Health Innovation Lab brings together payors, providers, and technology companies in a collective effort to help new market-ready healthcare technologies overcome the barriers to gaining meaningful adoption.

Although each founder has unique organizational objectives and faces unique challenges to achieving those goals, we recognize that a siloed mentality will only stymie our ability to overcome those challenges. And despite our unique objectives, we are united by a common goal: to improve health outcomes, lower costs, and enhance the patient and provider experience.

Bringing down silos and working in collaboration comes with a number of benefits. Diverse perspectives can help to identify areas where innovation is most needed; a network of collaborators can help innovation achieve wide-spread adoption; and sharing of ideas can influence organizations to overcome institutional conservatism.

Beyond those benefits, our founders each have unique perspectives on how collaboration benefits their respective organizations. Here are the benefits they recognize from working together:

Aspire Ventures:

As a Venture Lab that deals regularly with healthcare startups, we see again and again how healthcare silos create an extremely slow and uncertain path to market adoption for new technologies, even when the product is tested and market ready. That reality was the impetus for starting the SHI-Lab in the first place. Innovators get stuck in a catch 22 between different siloed stakeholders, with payors putting off reimbursement discussions because the tech isn’t used by doctors, and doctors not using the tech because it’s not reimbursed by payors. And even if a company gets a sale, integrating into the provider’s EMR/EHR systems can be extremely difficult because none of those systems are interoperable.

By bringing everyone together at the same table, we expedite the integration process by leaps and bounds. Not only will that help existing technologies gain faster market adoption and payor reimbursement, it will also lower risk for entrepreneurs who are just getting started. By bringing everyone together, we can point the way to a new path forward for innovating healthcare.

– Essam Abadir, CEO, Aspire Ventures

Clio Health:

Our mission to redesign the patient experience from end-to-end with a seamless blend of digital technology and person-to-person care can only be accomplished through collaboration and integration. Although Clio is not hindered by a dated legacy infrastructure, the siloes in healthcare today create a technology ecosystem that is fragmented and frustrating for both patients and practitioners. The key to Clio’s success will be through systems and technology that incorporate the unique perspectives of each stakeholder in healthcare. By working closely with payors, we can begin to transition from a fee-for-service model to a value-based model; by working closely with new technologies we can ensure that the tech easily integrates into our care continuum, and by working with other health systems we can gain valuable insight into the patient and provider experience that will guide our own design as we open our first facility in 2018.

– Todd Lord, CEO, Clio Health Lancaster

Capital BlueCross:

As the member-focused insurer dedicated to improving the health of our community, we recognize it will take stakeholders from across the care continuum working together to improve the health of our members and lower costs. For too long, data silos have impeded insurers from gaining a comprehensive, real-time view necessary to effectively create proactive programs to drive down costs and improve health status. As we shift from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement, additional avenues of collaboration across payor, provider, and vendor lines are critical to ensure success.

The Smart Health Innovation Lab will open up new lines of communication and ways of thinking, which in turn, will open doors to new technology. This team approach and focus on innovation will help Capital BlueCross improve the health of our members, our community, and our health care system as a whole.

– Aji Abraham, Senior Vice President, Business and Network Development; Capital BlueCross

Lancaster General Health:

The healthcare industry too often focuses on symptoms, such as an overcrowded waiting room, instead of the root cause, which may be inefficient processes at multiple points. When it comes to caring for and improving the health of our patients and our communities, it’s important to appreciate just how much everything is connected. Cost impacts patient experience, experience impacts patient engagement, engagement impacts outcomes, outcomes impact costs, and so on. Yet the healthcare industry as a whole isn’t looking at the big picture, as silos among its differing stakeholders threaten efforts to achieve coordinated care that addresses all of the pressure points and truly benefits the whole patient.

A collaborative approach lets us view the problem—or seek a solution—from multiple viewpoints and capabilities. By working together and breaking down silos, we can power a new wave of innovation in healthcare for a healthier, better quality of life for everyone.

– Jan Bergen, CEO, Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine