Health IT

Sensors, big markets and more you missed at Rock Health Boston Demo Day 2012

Today was go-day for the inaugural class of Rock Health’s Boston summer accelerator program, and seven startups came with their fine-tuned pitches to show off what they’d been working on over the past three months. There were only seven companies this time around (compared to 14 in Rock’s last San Francisco class), but the crowd they drew filled up the auditorium at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge.

Following a quick intro in which John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, hailed Thursday (the day Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules were released) as the day the “silos of data in health IT fell,” these companies gave their pitches:

Novi Medicine – This telemedicine company is starting off by diagnosing and treating acne remotely but has goals of growing to include other skin conditions like rashes and legions, and eventually other easy to diagnose and treat conditions. Its B2C business model sets it apart from another teledermatology company we covered recently but also presents some challenges. See our profile of Novi Medicine here.


Home Team Therapy – Physical therapists and patients can keep in touch in between visits with this online platform that uses the Kinect gaming system to help patients stay on track with their therapy. Physical therapists can also track their clients’ progress, modify their therapy plans, schedule appointments and give feedback through this system. The company estimates there are about 5.5 million injured Kinect owners who could use the system now.

RxApps – Based on the notion that increased self-monitoring and sharing of patient data with physicians leads to better health outcomes, this startup develops apps for managing chronic conditions like depression. It’s currently looking for funding and clinical partners so it can continue building its team and products.

Neumitra – During its time at Rock Health, this company grew from a staff of three to a staff of eight. It uses a mobile app and a wearable sensor that measures skin conductance, to provide data that will help people understand and monitor their stress. There are a lot of potential applications where this could be useful, from post-traumatic stress disorder to pregnancy, but many of the critical details couldn’t be shared yet due to some upcoming projects in the works.

NeuroTrack – In one of the more engaging presentations of the evening by far, this team presented its early predictive test for Alzheimer’s disease. The algorithms behind it may be tricky, but the concept is simple: A computer-based memory test asks seniors to recall familiar images. The changes in their ability to recognize the images – or not – gives clues about their chance of developing Alzheimer’s. It’s been tested in an NIH-backed study and the founders gave accounts of some pretty promising results. If all goes as planned, working with pharmaceutical companies to help populate clinical trials with the right types of people will be the first application of the test.

Reify Health – This group of Johns Hopkins University graduate students has a goal of making mobile health accessible to clinical researchers. They do that by designing, delivering and verifying a platform that helps researcher create mobile therapies using text messages and email. According to the founders, the company is already bringing in profits after just nine months and has Johns Hopkins and Harvard as clients.

Podimetrics – I chatted with co-founder Jeff Engler last week about the company’s sensor and software system for predicting and enabling early intervention of diabetic foot ulcers – you can read that story here. The company’s presentation – and probably the novelty of embedding a sensor in a bath mat – drew quite a few people to its demo table (see below).

[Photo by Flickr user jeffgunn]

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