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December 19, 2018
Healthcare startups pitch personalization
By: Ashlee Lane

HealthTech Innovation Challenge Boston Regional spotlights differentiated innovation

From artificial intelligence (AI) to mobile apps to EMR/EHR integration, a strong focus on personalization and analytics dominated the Boston Regional Round of the 2018 Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge.

Four regional contests in all were held, in Tokyo, Sydney, Dublin and Boston, each overseen by judges of passion and vision from across the healthcare ecosystem. Finalists were selected from each regional and invited to attend the Startup Health Festival in San Francisco where Innovation Champions will be selected on January 7.

As a coach at the Boston event, I was impressed by the high caliber of all the participants, from the judges to the startups to my fellow coaches. The question hanging over the intensive, one-day event: Who’s ready for prime-time? Some entrants emphasized transformative technology using AI and machine learning. Others stood out with a focused business plan. If I had to give one piece of advice to health startups, it is this: Know what differentiates you in the market.

Mobile app integration was at the core of b.well Connected Health’s vision. Kristen Valdes, b.well CEO and a long time champion for greater healthcare access, came up with the idea while seeking to monitor her daughter’s autoimmune disorder.

Kristen discovered apps exist for everything in healthcare—everything but integrating all those healthcare apps in one place. Among other things, b.well integrates EMRs and EHRs, enables patient consent across multiple doctors, and manages pharmacy costs. Completely FIHR-enabled, it was chosen to be a finalist in San Francisco.

Health management was a focus for other Boston regional entrants. Catalia Health introduced Mabu, a voice-enabled household robot that monitors and cares for an individual patient by utilizing AI and proven behavioral models. Personalization was a core element of Catalia Health’s pitch; Mabu can monitor treatment results, have health conversations and even predict the progression of different disease states.

While Catalia Health did not advance to the next round, it clearly represents the future. Their focus on tailored, data-driven engagement, and partnership with the American Health Association, suggests a new and bold path to healthcare personalization, especially for older patients who lack ready companionship.

A third startup, NowPow, presents a clear social benefit. It offers a technology platform and network management solution for care professionals to close the loop on health and social-services referrals through eprescriptions. NowPow partners with healthcare providers, health plans and government agencies to identify and address social determinants of health (SDOH) needs of patients with limited resources in a complex ecosystem.

In 2017 alone, NowPow was responsible for 1.7 million unique referrals across seven US markets. Areas of focus include diabetes, hepatitis, nutrition and pediatrics. Representing a means of bridging the gap between vital healthcare services and at-need populations, NowPow is another startup moving on to San Francisco.

From helping individuals to facilitating community outreach, redefining what is possible was the day’s overarching theme in Boston. One sure thing: Someday soon, healthcare’s new normal will be a world apart from what we know today. The commitment and vision coming out of Boston was truly inspiring.

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