The growth of healthcare technology has spurred a new market for healthcare startups. Between 2012 and 2014, Fortune reports that venture funding grew 200 percent for healthcare startups ranging from wearables to apps to bionic prosthetics. With healthcare records moving online, and more people — including doctors — expecting mobile solutions, it seems only natural that startups are emerging to help users visit the doctor remotely, track their medicine regime or get a diagnosis from a doctor thousands of miles away.
Trailblazing into the healthcare marketplace, these 10 tech startups are bridging the gap between healthcare and technology to build a better, safer and more inclusive healthcare experience.
3D printing might seem like a novelty that hasn’t yet found a practical application in the real world. But in the healthcare industry, 3D printing is rapidly changing the lives of amputees by providing affordable bionic prosthetics. Open source projects like The Open Hand Project are dedicated to making 3D printed robotic prosthetics more affordable at around $1,000 per person. That’s a fraction of the cost of a typical prosthetic, which can cost upwards of $100,000.
Startup company Project io wants to go the next step and take the guesswork out of fitting prosthetics. By scanning the patient’s residual limb and complementary limb with an app named Anaken, amputees can ensure a better fitting prosthetic on the first try. Part of Project io’s goal is to help trauma victims have easy and affordable access to well-fitting prosthetics with equipment they most likely already own, such as a smartphone or tablet.
Navigating your health insurance can be complicated and frustrating. One startup, Oscar Health, wants to simplify the process and make health insurance easier to understand for everyone. On its website, Oscar Health compares its service to Spotify, Airbnb and Uber, but for health insurance. It’s aimed at delivering a more intuitive experience than traditional healthcare, including an app where users can search for physicians, check their symptoms, and virtually meet with doctors.
Oscar health subscribers also receive a free wearable fitness tracker from Misfit Wearables, and for every day they reach a targeted number of steps, they earn $1. The payouts are sent monthly via an Amazon gift card and users can earn up to $240 per year.
It isn’t without its flaws, however, and even the CEO Mario Scholosser admits in a Forbes article that there have been bumps in the road as the startup navigates the complex world of health insurance. Either way, it’s one startup company aimed at simplifying a convoluted industry for the masses.
Healthy habits are the key to a healthy lifestyle, and that is especially true when it comes to medication adherence. And the brothers who founded the startup MediSafe know first-hand how important it is to properly manage your medication; their own diabetic father wound up in the hospital after accidentally taking two doses of his insulin.
Medication non-adherence is a common reason that people wind up hospitalized, but MediSafe offers an app that lets you, or a loved one, track the medications you take. It will alert you when it’s time to take a medication and can track progress over time. If you fail to check in with the app, it can alert another user who can then check in to make sure medications are taken correctly.
Doctors making house calls is a thing of the past, but Medwand wants to change that with “the 21st century digital house call.” Aimed at working parents, travelers, those in rural areas and patients with mobility issues, Medwand wants to bring telemedicine to people who can’t easily access the doctor’s office.
The portable Medwand device can take basic vitals and also includes Bluetooth to connect with other peripheral devices that can deliver glucose readings, weight, exercise habits and more. Medwand hopes to not only keep patients with less serious illnesses out of the waiting room, it also wants to bring quick and simple doctor visits to everyone with one small device.
Following a strict medicine regimen can be difficult for most people, but failing to take the right dosage of medications at the right time of day can be detrimental. AdhereTech has created a smart wireless pill bottle that can analyze the patient’s usage to see if they miss dosages and then send alerts to the user via their smartphone.
What makes this startup’s smart wireless pill bottle unique is its potential to help improve clinical trials and research to get medications on to the market faster. It’s already been tested to improve medication adherence for those diagnosed with HIV by helping patients manage the large number of medications they need to take each day. It can take some of the confusion and human error out of the process when it comes to treating diseases that require prescription cocktails.
Pager is an app that brings urgent care to your house within two hours, and it’s currently available in New York City. It works almost like Uber, but instead of getting a car to come pick you up, a doctor will show up at your doorstep. One of the goals of telemedicine is to keep people out of waiting rooms, thus reducing wait times and patient load.
If you have a common illness, a minor injury or a dermatological issue, Pager might be easier than trying to get into the doctor’s office or urgent care. The app also offers physicals, which comes in handy for kids heading to school or if you need to get checked out for employment reasons. It’s currently only available for those in New York City and doctors are on call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
When you are struck with a common ailment, there are unlimited resources at your fingertips to learn more about the disease and get treatment. But even in this day and age, some doctors are left scratching their head as patients go from specialist to specialist without answers.
That’s where CrowdMed wants to fill in the gaps by crowdsourcing your diagnosis. According to founders, the average patient on CrowdMed is someone who has unsuccessfully sought treatment for an average of eight years, without official diagnosis. Users who aren’t searching for a diagnosis can sign up as a “medical detective” to get started browsing through active cases. Medical detectives can earn a better reputation and gain influence the more they help discuss symptoms and medical history with other users.
The site claims its medical detectives include the likes of medical students, retired physicians, nurses, scientists, naturopaths and regular joes who just enjoy a good medical mystery. The founders cite thousands of patients that have already received a correct diagnosis.
Melanoma is the deadliest and fastest growing type of skin cancer, but it’s often treatable if caught early. But tracking abnormal growth in moles or getting into the doctor’s office regularly for preventative visits isn’t always easy.
With SkinVision, you can take a photo of a mole on your skin, archive the photo and compare images over time to see if there are any changes. Its unique algorithm can read the photo of a mole to determine the potential for melanoma or other skin disorders, helping patients get treatment as soon as possible. Users pay a one-time fee of $4.99 to download the app and have full access to every feature, including a database of local dermatologists to schedule an appointment.
Another startup aimed at helping individuals take their medications properly, PillPack goes as far as to send patient’s prescriptions already organized in individual dose packs. For elderly patients or those taking a large number of medications daily, trying to sort them out and organize them all can be frustrating. Also, the more medications a patient is prescribed, the harder it can be to juggle the correct dosage and time for each pill.
To help solve this issue, PillPack sends patients their prescription drugs pre-sorted in easy-to-open dose packs, rather than individual pill bottles. Forbes quotes a 2006 study that found sending pills to patients in dose packs improved medication adherence from 61 percent to 97 percent. Each dose pack lists the date and time it should be taken, so that patients can take their medication and get on with their day.
Another telemedicine startup, Sherpaa, has a slew of handpicked doctors and medical professionals who work full-time for the company and are on call via a smartphone app. You can message a doctor to see if you need to go to the ER, or if you have a less serious ailment, you can receive a quick diagnosis and prescriptions. It also includes mental health professionals as well as information about alternative treatments that are covered — or aren’t covered — by your insurance.
When you receive a bill, you can snap a photo and let the professionals at Sherpaa do the legwork to ensure that you pay only the amount you owe through your insurance. For users, it can help cut out-of-pocket expenses, deliver faster treatment, and limit the number of doctor visits. For companies that implement Sherpaa, it can help manage premiums, keep employees in the office, and lessen the burden on HR to explain and clarify insurance questions from workers.