The role of depression in prolonging patients’ recoveries, the evolution of the mobile health market and the increased willingness of insurance companies to work with startups were among the most interesting trends to emerge from the Health 2.0 Spring Fling conference in Boston this week.
There was a lot of buzz aroundCogito Corp. Its voice-recognition technology is designed to evaluate cues in people’s speech to detect psychological stress and depression. People suffering from a chronic illness frequently suffer from depression, which can be an impediment to recovery. Health insurance providers were particularly interested in solutions to depression since it can play a significant role in the speed at which patients recover from a serious illness or cope with a chronic one.
AbilTo, acquired by Aetna last year, uses behavioral coaches and “transition therapists” to work with people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or who are recovering from cardiac events. The eight-week programs are designed to improve recovery by teaching people to better cope with stress, anxiety and sadness through interactive videos or phone conversations.
The mobile health sector has become its own industry. It includes health-and-wellness apps for consumers, but apps and smartphones connected with Web-based software have also made inroads at hospitals where they can provide easier access to patient information. Kaiser Permanente, a managed care consortium with a 9 million-member health plan that also owns hospitals, is looking to work with smaller companies as they evaluate tools in the clinical space and to integrate with its Mobility Center of Excellence.
Another discernable trend is the growing presence of large companies, particularly payers and companies in the mobile health and wireless space, willing to work with entrepreneurs to support the development of their ideas through innovation challenges and collaborations that play an integral role in their businesses. Although one company cautioned that its investment in the space represents a very small fraction of its revenue, it was a multibillion-dollar business. One underlying point is that entrepreneurs need to develop a more informed understanding of the companies they want to work with and the specific problems those companies want to solve.
Sean Chai, director of innovation technology, Kaiser Permanente