Texas Medical Center Introduces Second Class To Its Digital Health Accelerator Program

Texas Medical Center unveils the second class of its digital health accelerator, TMCx. The program was formally launched as a partnership between TMC and Village Capital, a Washington DC-based VC firm, in December 2014. At the time, 12 startups were granted admission into the program, where they received $50,000 in seed funding from Village Capital, and on-site mentorship from executives at Texas Medical Center for the duration of the four-month program. Now, TMCx is offering startups an opportunity to join the accelerator without giving up equity. Instead, startups will have an opportunity to work with advisors during the accelerator program to raise capital as part of the standard curriculum. As with most accelerator programs, curriculum involves a significant amount of time focused on practicing for VC meetings, and the program concludes with a Demo Day to an audience of potential investors.

Texas Medical Center Introduces Second Class To Its Digital Health Accelerator Program

This year, TMCx has accepted 13 startups to the program, with five from the local Houston area, and the remainder based throughout the US. The newly accepted members of the TMCx class are:

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More Bad News On The Way For Theranos

The past six months have not been good for Theranos, the Silicon Valley lab test startup once valued at an astounding $9 billion. A series of damaging investigative reports published in the Wall Street Journal by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Carreyrou took the company to task for marketing its new blood-testing process as a groundbreaking new innovation when, behind the scenes, it was actually processing a vast majority of the blood samples it collected with conventional analyzers acquired from its competitors. The initial story was followed by another reporting that the FDA had ordered the startup to stop using its “nanotainer” blood storage device, a key component of its testing process, because it was an “unregulated medical device.” Shortly after, questions arose as to the accuracy of the company’s lab analyzer, and accusations were cast suggesting that the company took steps to hide potentially dangerous variances in accuracy from auditors.

More Bad News On The Way For Theranos

Now, Theranos is on the cusp of what will likely be another major blow to its public image and long-term viability. Citing sources “familiar with the matter,” The Wall Street Journal reports that during a recent inspection of Theranos’ lab facilities, CMS auditors discovered serious issues that may put the company in jeopardy of being suspended from the Medicare program. Details are not yet available on what issues might have been discovered during the inspection, which lasted several months, but the inspection reports from the visit are expected to be released publically soon.

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NHS Teams Up With Google, IBM, and Phillips To Improve Quality Of Care

In October 2014, the NHS published a broad plan to begin incorporating various new technologies into its standard care guidelines by partnering with private vendors and collaboratively piloting technology-supplemented treatments across the country. Called the “Test Beds” project, the goal of the effort is to use small pilot projects to identify new solutions that have the potential to improve quality of care, and then ramp just those solutions up at a national level. NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens explains, “Our new NHS Test Beds program aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.”

NHS Teams Up With Google, IBM, and Phillips To Improve Quality Of Care

For the past year and a half, administrators within the NHS have been firming up plans and locking in partnerships in preparation for its first batch of “Test Bed” pilots. Last Friday during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stevens announced that the first seven pilot programs were ready and would be launching in the coming months.

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Singularity University Signs R&D Deal With Becton Dickinson

Singularity University announces this week that it has signed an R&D deal with medical technology firm Becton, Dickinson and Co. to collaborate on new digital health solutions. Under the new agreement, BD will work out of Singularity’s SU Labs on its campus in Silicon Valley, where BD associates will work with entrepreneurs and Singularity industry experts to help develop startups that it will then incubate within the BD organization. As an organization, BD operates three business units: BD Medical, BD Diagnostics, and BD Biosciences. BD Medical makes needles, catheters, and scalpels, which it sells directly to hospitals and clinics. BD Diagnostics manufactures a wide array of automated specimen collection and sample processing systems for reference laboratories and blood banks. BD Biosciences caters to research and clinical laboratories, as it manufactures equipment to analyze tissues down to the cellular level. In the announcement, Singularity notes that the first batch of BD associates to participate in the program will work on ideas that fall under the umbrella of digital health, before bringing the new technologies back to BD to be further developed within one of the companies’ existing verticals.

Singularity University Signs R&D Deal With Becton Dickinson

The arrangement is not a new one. Singularity has signed similar R&D deals with some other organizations that would seem to be an awkward fit in Silicon Valley. When the university launched its SU Labs, a think tank and innovation lab that plays matchmaker between startups and established corporations, the first three partnerships were with Coca Cola, Hershey, and Lowes. Hershey, for example, was primarily interested in using robotics and 3D printing to trim manufacturing costs. Also working out of SU labs is Bayer and Harman International Industries. Singularity CEO Rob Nail explains, “By combining a deep understanding of powerful tools like artificial intelligence, computing, genomics, robotics and design thinking, with deep innovation expertise and connections to corporations, governments, academia, nonprofits and investors, we provide partners such as BD an opportunity to do things differently, innovating like a startup outside of their own company’s walls to create transformative new business opportunities.” An eloquent way of describing what is likely the necessary revenue generating business side of Singularity University, which tends to focus a majority of its efforts on conferences that spin out philanthropic moonshot projects, but with limited revenue.

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Disappointing Evidence Mounts For Remote Patient Monitoring Technology

For years, entrepreneurs and investors have been developing new digital health tools and sensors under the untested assumption that once these solutions were put in the hands of patients and health systems, outcomes would improve and readmissions would drop. The premise is sound. Patients discharged from the hospital are generally not yet fully recovered, and with the help of technology, the remainder of a patient’s recovery can be remotely monitored while they are at home. Many extend this concept beyond the recovery period, suggesting that chronically ill patients would benefit from prolonged monitoring to support their disease management efforts. The metrics one would want to measure are known. For heart failure patients, a precise daily weight is a valuable metric because it helps clinicians spot fluid retention. For diabetics, blood sugar levels could help clinicians identify patients struggling to manage their condition. Patients with hypertension could benefit from remote monitoring of their blood pressure. Now, thanks to the work of digital health entrepreneurs, the sensors and apps exist to capture all of these metrics in the patient home and share them with local providers. The next step is to field test them and measure the improvement to outcomes, hospitalization rates, and readmission rates.

Disappointing Evidence Mounts For Remote Patient Monitoring Technology

In 2013, Spyglass Consulting conducted a small survey of health systems, home health agencies, hospices, and government agencies like the VA that were early adopters of remote patient monitoring technology. At the time, more than 50 percent of respondents questioned the clinical efficacy and potential for a return on investment from remote patient monitoring solutions. Fast forward two years, and researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA presented similar findings at the American Heart Association’s 2015 Scientific Summit. In this more recent study, researchers focused on heart failure patients, conducting a randomized control trial to measure changes to readmission rates and mortality rates when supplemental remote patient monitoring solutions were used. The study concluded that no meaningful improvements were made to either the 30-day readmission rates or six-month mortality rates of heart failure patients who were enrolled in the remote patient monitoring program.

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