A recent report on employer healthcare costs drew attention to a 40 percent increase in the past six years for employee healthcare spending. The report identified eight human behaviors that contribute to 15 chronic conditions and are responsible for 65 percent of employee healthcare expenditures.
Here are 10 startups that address behaviors with the biggest impact on overall health, including poor sleep, physical inactivity, limited access to health screenings, and smoking.
At an ePatient conference in Philadelphia this week, Comcast Ventures Senior Associate Gavin Teo said it’s looking for companies with ways to improve sleep as this represents one of the largest market opportunities and biggest needs. Although sleep apnea is part of it, it also includes sleep disorders like insomnia.
GliaCure is a Boston-based biotechnology startup developing a treatment for sleep disorders that involves modulating the body’s production of a sleep-promoting compound called adenosine made by astrocytes, star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Zeo helps people improve the quality and length of their sleep. Users wear a headband with a monitor that measures brainwaves to assess the sleep stage they are in, and triggers an alarm to wake them at the appropriate time. The system also collects and organizes sleep data, to help users see relationships between lifestyle and sleep quality.
Lark Technologies has a silent alarm clock, sleep tracker and personal sleep coach. It was developed after the founder moved in with her boyfriend and the impact their different sleep patterns had on her health and productivity. Using a smartphone app, users wear a monitor for seven days to get a baseline of their sleep patterns. A sleep coach sends a sleep report that includes a sleep plan with sleep targets and tips tailored to their sleep type.
Access to Health screenings
SoloHealth has free, touch screen kiosks in retail settings that helps users monitor their blood pressure, central vision and weight, complete a health-risk assessment and use a symptom checker. The Duluth, Georgia company also helps users locate and contact local physicians, or create an account to monitor their progress online.
Sherpaa in New York was launched by primary care physician Jay Parkinson. It works with employers to reduce their healthcare costs in part by providing their employees access to a network of local physicians 24 hours per day, seven days a week. It also help connect users with New York City specialists they personally know and trust, refilling short-term prescriptions, diagnosing and treating certain medical conditions, answering health insurance questions, helping find the best prices on members’ medications and informing users about helpful new tools and apps to optimize their health.
BitGym The company engages gymgoers in an escapist program through a partnership with VirtualActive. The iPhone and iPad app transplants users on an exercise bike or elliptical machine into a virtual world through the camera on users’ devices. The devices pick up vibrations in the exercise machine to assess the user’s speed in the game and steering is controlled by the device’s camera, which picks up small head movements.
FitOrbit. Launched in 2009 by Jake Steinfeld (aka the ’Body by Jake’ guy), FitOrbit has a Web and mobile platform that matches up customers with a personal trainer. Users get a personalized meal and fitness plan with virtual support. The platform also includes tracking and progress monitoring capabilities.
360WeightLoss. The web-based e-coaching system, program uses proprietary health risk assessment tools. Subscribers get a customized plan covering nutrition, fitness and lifestyle. Users can communicate with a personal trainer through a high-definition video. E-coaching sessions give private, one-on-one counseling on nutrition and fitness and meeting goals. Customized workout regimens are emailed to users and include the correct exercises, order, weight, repetitions and sets in the form of a wristband.
Nashville-Tennessee based Agile Health Inc. launched a mobile smoking cessation program earlier this year that uses a health messaging engine developed by partner HSAGlobal and interactive features designed by GeneXus USA. It works with employers, health plans and businesses to offer the Kick Buts program to employees or customers. Those who enroll in the program choose a target quit date and are sent personalized messages that provide advice, support and encouragement at scheduled intervals over a 26-week period, according to its website.
Enforcer eCoaching A health coaching startup founded by Cleveland Clinic wellness chief Dr. Michael Roizen and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz provides a series of email-based, daily-interactive wellness coaching programs designed to help people prevent and/or reverse diseases attributed to excessive weight and use of tobacco products. The company offers four program options: tobacco cessation, weight loss, weight loss to manage diabetes and weight loss to manage hypertension and it is aimed at employers.