There’s an interesting trend I’ve noticed with at least one healthcare accelerator I have been tracking. The members of the startups for the most part have increasingly more industry experience and seem more adept at finding pain points and delivering a workable solution to members of the healthcare ecosystem. And if the successes of Blueprint Health’s latest graduating class are anything to go by, healthcare companies are getting increasingly receptive to working with startups that can help them address some of the demands of the Affordable Care Act and some of its impacts with more innovative solutions.
Because there is more awareness and increasing prevalence of healthcare accelerators, the ones that have been around for a couple of years, like Rock Health, and Health Box as well as Blueprint Health, are seeing more applicants. That means they can be pickier about the startups they accept into their programs. There is also the fact that since accelerators are investing in these companies, they want to make sure they get a decent return on that investment. So they are picking companies with solutions that are more diverse and are led by entrepreneurs possessing a deepening level of experience not just in healthcare, though that’s pretty helpful, but marketing, software development and finance as well. And 6-year old accelerator DreamIt Ventures’ new healthcare accelerator — DreamIt Health — with its newly picked inaugural class, is getting providers and payers involved early in the process wit support from Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross.
For example, Touch Surgery, a startup co-founded by four surgeons, developed a mobile platform to acquaint surgeons with using new medical devices for various surgical procedures. It can alert doctors as to whether they have done something wrong or right. It just signed on medical device company Covidien (NYSE: COV). It’s a great idea for several reasons. If a physician is familiar with a medical device they’d be more likely to use it. It’s also another way for medical device companies to get direct feedback from the very people they want using their devices. On a broader level, it could reduce the risk of medical errors.
A member of Blueprint’s previous class, Medikly, raised $1.2 million to expand its service aimed at the pharmaceutical industry to help marketers find their target physician and nurse audience on social media. It is led by Dr. Venkat Gullapalli who has 11 years experience in pharmaceutical marketing and medical education.
Blueprint’s latest class also indicated a shift away from offering add-on services to a provider’s electronic health record system in favor of solutions that address a specific paint point. IntelligentM’s wristband technology can detect whether healthcare professionals have washed their hands properly to reduce hospital acquired infections, a costly challenge that amounts to billions in hospitalization expenses. It has added four customers in the past three months.
As healthcare reform provisions continue to roll out and evolve, it will be even more important for startups to be shrewd about the kinds of solutions they offer and how they fit in with provider workflows. Providers, which are historically pretty choosy about the startups they are willing to work with, hopefully will find innovative yet workable options that fit their needs.