Most Innovative Connected Health Companies 2013 (Part 1)

I was motivated by the recent publication of the Most Innovative Companies 2013 by Fast Company. The list includes 100 companies, broken out by geography and industry The list is a good read with decent summaries of a interesting companies. Comparing and ranking these companies as Fast Company did is hard to do.

Below are some of the relevant companies I pulled from the Fast Company list. My next post will be my own list of most innovative companies in connected health.


Nike (#1). Nike was number one on the overall list of 100. It beat the big boys like Google, Apple, and Amazon. I’m not really surprised as it seems like Nike is doing a lot of things right in positioning itself. The FuelBand, at least according to the press, has been a huge success for Nike. I’ve now gone 65 days in a row hitting 5,000 Fuel points per day. I went 15 years without owning any Nike products and now my FuelBand and Nike+ iOS app are tools I use daily.  Nike also launched its own incubator to discover and help companies building products on top of its Nike+ API. Let’s hope some of those companies come up with some relevant tools that can be used by health systems and providers to encourage and track activity. Well done, Nike! I’m waiting for the pharma version of Nike, a drug maker that starts to excel in the technology arena of patient-facing HIT.

Sproxil (#7). Sproxil is awesome and deserves to be at the top of the list in healthcare. It’s a new company and hit 2 million users last year, mostly in Africa. The service allows patients to verify the authenticity of medications using SMS. Before Sproxil and PharmaSecure (the main competition), I had no idea that counterfeit meds were such a problem globally. It’s simple, but it just makes sense. Sproxil is expanding its med verification platform to be a more general product verification platform.

Safaricom (#9). Safaricom, a large mobile carrier in Africa, is doing innovative things around mobile access to healthcare, like a national short-code to access a doctor or nurse. Safaricom was one of the first carriers to do mobile money, and I believe it is still the case study example. The carriers internationally have a much easier time rolling out service in health and banking because they have bigger distribution networks than anybody and the health and banking systems, as well as laws and policies, generally aren’t as restrictive and protective as what we’re used to in the US.

Walgreens. I was really happy to see Walgreens on the list. I think of Walgreens and Nike similarly in that both are well established, but doing the right things to remain relevant and to grow with changing technology and markets. Walgreen, like Nike, has also starting opening up access to its API with prescription refill, and I expect we’ll see them opening up appointment scheduling. Walgreens has also led the way with mobile-enabled pharmacy services including its mobile app, scan-to-refill, and text services. Beyond mobile health, Walgreens is also doing great things, at least if you’re a retail pharmacy, by trying to personalize the relationship between patient and pharmacist.

Proteus. Proteus has probably the coolest product out there. It’s a sensor that is swallowed, then activated and powered by stomach acid. It transmits physiologic information from your GI tract to your smartphone. This is fascinating technology and definitely wins in the innovative health tech category. I do wonder about the price per pill for this and how widespread its use will become.

GE. GE made the list for having the most innovative, advanced, and user-centric medical record that all doctors have come to love. Not really. GE actually made the list for its Logiq mobile ultrasound machine, which according to Fast Company, is widely used in professional sports. Fast Company didn’t mention the smaller Vscan, which is an even smaller ultrasound by GE.

Teladoc. Teladoc represents a group of virtual care companies that are going to help ease access to care. I’m excited to see telemed services roll out at pharmacies and kiosks.


Azumio. Azumio is a mobile health and fitness apps company that was categorized under "Mobile" by Fast Company, not health, fitness, or sports. I’ve not been impressed with the company’s apps, but it claims 20 million downloads. It does get lots of good press and has strong investors to help it along.

Athenahealth. Athena made the list for making hosted medical records more usable and acceptable by docs. That’s why Fast Company put them on the list, anyway.

Have suggestions for the most innovative connected health companies? Send me an e-mail or leave a comment below.

On an unrelated note, I’m trying a bit of an experiment with my e-mail this week. I’ve always had a hard time managing e-mail and I’m know my plight is not unique. I’ve started using the new and much-discussed Mailbox app for iOS. The app is a simple to use, mobile-first e-mail client that forces you (or strongly encourages you) to deal with your inbox in the here and now. You can archive, label and move, or mark for later (times can be customized), all of which are designed to keep your inbox empty.

I opted to archive all of my inbox, which was a big step. Now my goal is to get my inbox to zero every night. Some of the e-mail has been "snoozed" until tomorrow or next week or whenever I schedule it to reappear in my inbox, but having a visually clear inbox is liberating. It’s strange to use this app with my desktop mail app (Sparrow), so I’m trying to do all e-mail on my phone to see how that goes. If you use Gmail for e-mail (it’s all I use), I would definitely check out the app.

Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More about me.

  • Thanks for the tip on Mailbox app, Travis. I’ll check it out. Anything that offers a clean slate every morning is a welcomed addition.

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