Most Innovative Connected Health Companies 2013 (Part 2)

Earlier this week I posted about some of the companies that Fast Company considers to be the most innovative. I focused on health, fitness, and mobile.

I should add that Uber, which made Fast Company‘s Top 10, is amazing. I used it for the first time yesterday in Chicago and was floored by how fantastic the whole experience was for me. It’s simply brilliant. Companies from Fast Company‘s list that I’d add to my own include Nike and Walgreens.

I’ll preface by saying that there are a lot of innovative companies out there right now. Below is a list of my favorites.

Zamzee. I like kids. I like them to be healthy. I like them to be active. I want them to have fun being active. Zamzee is one of a few companies that is developing tools to measure kids’ activity and reward them for it. Zamzee is really just a trimmed-down, cheaper version of the original Fitbit and it is designed for for kids. While I’m not a fan of the clip-on activity trackers, I love what Zamzee is trying to do, so I had to add them to my list. The activity log on Zamzee is viewable online and can be redeemed for rewards. Every kid should be assigned one of these in school and have Zamzee activity log serve as their PE grade. I’m not saying eliminate the PE class or period, but try to motivate kids to be active all the time, not just the 30-40 minutes a day in the actually PE class. Also, I vaguely recall having to take tests in PE that assessed my knowledge of the rules of different sports. Is this a manufactured memory, or do we actually teach and test kids about the rules of sports?

Asthmapolis. Asthmapolis has intrigued me since I first heard about them, and not just because the company is based in Wisconsin. The idea is relatively simple: add a sensor to an inhaler to track usage, location, and time. The data collected helps asthmatics and providers understand asthma triggers and severity of condition, targeting additional interventions as needed. There is also a unique public health angle because aggregate data can be used as proxy for determining locality with poor air quality. The whole thing is very smart.

AirStrip. AirStrip gets lots of attention and it should. It started with a targeted solution for real-time remote monitoring of OB patients. It has since expanded to do monitoring for cardiology and intensive care. Most recently, it’s become clear that AirStrip wants to be the mobile access point for all clinical data, EMRs included. AirStrip has partnered with Diversinet to provide secure access on personal devices. AirStrip also has several patents related to mobile monitoring of clinical data. It seems like AirStrip announces a new feature or strategic partner weekly.

Tonic Health. I first saw and wrote about Tonic at HIMSS last year. The company is trying to make an exceptionally boring process — the act of filling out medical forms — more fun for patients. By making it more fun, providers can capture more accurate and complete information from patients. Also, by making the process of filling out paperwork into a game, patients worry less about seeing a health provider. Tonic has great designers. It has a lot of potential for impact. Partnering with conferences to provide live feedback is a great marketing strategy as well. Have you seen the tablet-toting, orange-shirt-wearing Tonic data collectors at conferences?

Direct Dermatology. It’s a virtual dermatology clinic for patients and a referral center for primary care providers. Appointments with dermatologists can be hard to get. Add to that the fact that many dermatology visits can be done virtually with pictures and basic histories and virtual care makes a lot of sense. One more thing Direct Dermatology has going for it is that a really high percentage of primary care visits are derm related, so PCPs need to either refer patients or curbside dermatologists all the time. Direct Dermatology is rapidly adding providers in different states to get around outdated laws about practicing across state lines. Direct Dermatology smartly leans on Logical Images, one of its partners, for relevant clinical content and images, so it doesn’t have to rewrite everything. Logical Images has a massive catalog of derm images and clinical content.

Orca Health. Orca Health makes health apps for patents to better understand health conditions and ideally make more informed health decisions. Orca started pretty simply and has expanded the number of conditions and organ systems a lot over the last 18 months. The idea is touch-enabled apps allow patients to interact with anatomy and physiology, immersing themselves in ways that aren’t possible with Wikipedia or WebMD. It seems to be working. Orca is targeting solutions both at patients as well as providers and payers. It also recently signed a partnership with Harvard Medical School to publish a list of interactive iBooks for patients. The content is Harvard’s, a pretty nice name to have, and the design is Orca’s.

Glooko. There are several connected approaches to glucose monitors that I outlined in a previous post. Glooko recently received FDA clearance for its cable that connects existing (dumb) glucometers, making them smart in the process. I’m a fan of not reinventing the wheel and I love tools that turn dumb, unconnected technologies into smart, connected ones. Asthmapolis above is similar in this way. I think Glooko has a way to go to build out features for caregivers and providers to monitor logged glucose readings, but those things are not the real innovation.

I only covered connected health companies and not more broadly health IT companies. What companies do you think are the most innovative in health IT?

TGphoto

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

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