Health Startup Accelerator Rock Health – 1/6/12


Before the holidays, I profiled the startups accepted into the new Healthbox accelerator in Chicago. Rock Health, the most established health-specific accelerator with one group of startups having completed the program, also announced its second class of startups a couple of weeks ago.

Rock Health is a five-month program based in San Francisco. Companies are given office space; access to design, health, and legal resources; and a grant of $20,000, I assume to cover Ramen noodles for the founders for five months. Companies don’t lose any equity in exchange.

I think the biggest sell — and I assume Rock agrees, as it lists this on the top of its list of what companies get — is access to big clinical names like Mayo, Harvard, UCSF, and Cincinnati Children’s. This is a clear difference from both Healthbox and Blueprint, the other two main health accelerators, which lack blue chip clinical names. Healthbox and Blueprint bring great value to startups, but in other ways. Healthbox is funded by BCBS and has Walgreens as a partner. while Blueprint has tons of investors and Joseph Kvedar as mentors, but these are not on par with the clinical names that Rock Health has as partners.

Below is a list of startups in the Rock’s second class. I’m curious to watch these new and also some of the more interesting startups from Rock’s first class, namely Cake Health, Omada Health, and Skimble.

Agile Diagnosis. The company wants to delivery tailored, actionable evidence-based algorithms to assist clinicians provide the best care to patients. It’s a good goal, as dissemination of evidence into practice takes way too long. It’s not easy to do, though, as you either have to integrate into systems clinicians already use (which is no small task) or get them to use a new tool which, even if it is almost instant, will interrupt the workflow and generate push-back.

Avva. I like this concept of helping to maximize the value of face-to-face time between patient and doctor. Focusing on breast cancer is a good move, as patients will be engaged. I think oncologists, as much as probably any specialty, will be very receptive to listening to a list of questions and concerns from patients. Marketing in the right online communities or partnering with pharma for funding and promotion will go a long way.

Cardiio. According to Cardiio, it “empowers ordinary people with simple yet powerful tools to experiment, gain insight and take charge of their health and wellbeing.” I’m betting this was just an idea pitched to Rock that got accepted because of an impressive team with a very good designer. Pet peeve: please don’t promote a Twitter feed as the only option on your website if you don’t tweet.

Care at Hand. Mobile medical records system for home health with a workflow optimization angle as well as tools for family members. This seems like a good idea for home care, especially if you can combine it with another Rock Health company, GetMyCare.

GetMyCare. A home health marketplace with different home care specialists. Building this network of independent providers might serve GetMyCare very well, especially if it can find a B2B partner that coordinates between-care care for hospitals, payers, and eventually ACOs.

ChickRx. An online health community specifically for young women. It sounds like a focused version of HealthTap, and HealthTap’s CEO is a Rock Health mentor. Targeting women makes sense, as they are the gatekeepers to consumer health.

Cognitive Health Innovations. An online community for people suffering from mental health disorders. The site plans to offer therapy and social interactions to assist members. Mental health is a huge untapped market. The best way to grow this is to get a big-name clinical partners on board and then target patients through providers.

Docphin. Maybe I don’t understand the name, but I don’t like it. It’s touted as “Bloomberg for Doctors,” delivering tailored medical news and research. If it can help sorting the crazy amount of stuff that is out there for providers, it has a good start. It also has some academic partnerships with Penn and Michigan, which is great because this service will likely grow and prosper in academic settings more than community settings.

Epi.MD. A social population management tool that is meant to assist providers with managing the health of their patients. Seems like a cool idea, and the founder won the Practice Fusion “Analyze This” competition last year. This might be easier to sell to healthcare orgs or payers as a tool that can be pushed to/on providers. It should try to get a partnership with Practice Fusion and then hope to get acquired by them.

Health Rally. A very cool and novel concept for a subset of the population, namely those with friends who will pledge cash for fitness goals. It has already received some funding, so the founders will be able to eat more than Ramen for five months. Friends and family pledge money to motivate people to achieve certain goals, like lose weight or run a marathon or whatever.

Helpful Systems. An analytics tool to identify patients at risk for hospital-acquired infections, a huge problem and burden to hospitals due to associated reimbursement penalties. Some of the variables used are based on hospital staff, so a partnership with one of the new hand hygiene tracking vendors would be a good and would reduce integration issues.

Nephosity. The product is MobileCT ($9.99), a medical image (DICOM) viewer on the iPad that enables providers to collaborate on images. It allows docs to annotate images. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an enterprise sale, like AirStrip, or something any doc can download and use. I image the value is in accessing PACS images, so it likely needs to be an enterprise sale. I hope the team has experience with that or can get an investor with experience.

Sano Intelligence. It is building a real-time mobile monitoring system with sensors that continuously monitor biometrics, starting with the metabolic panel. This seems to be based on the TED talk by Daniel Kraft, MD, about Stage Zero medicine, or curing patients before they are really sick. Since Daniel Kraft is a Rock advisor and seems like a very smart guy, Sano was probably hand picked.

Senstore. This is an online community that wants to crowd source the best and brightest to build a network of open source sensor technologies that developers can leverage. The long-term goal is to create a medical tricoder that anyone can use for diagnosis.

Sessions. Localized, social exercise. Users can find and join others in exercise. I prefer to exercise alone so this holds zero appeal to me, but I could see some people getting into this. I wonder when Fitocracy will add this feature?

Well, that’s it for Rock and Healthbox. I’ll try to keep up with news from both as well as Blueprint once it announces its class of startups.


Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with HIT startups.

  • Bill R

    “Mental health is a huge untapped market.” What did/do you base this on, and can you please elaborate? (I feel the same way, too, but do not have data to support it.)

↑ Back to top

Founding Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors