A focused diagnostic is better than one test that does it all

  Download October’s Startup Index The Nokia X Sensing challenge drew 11 finalists. Each company fell into 1 of 2 groups: a do-it-all sensor or a specialized sensor. EMI, one of the multi-purpose tests, won the challenge and $525,000. One set of entrepreneurs clearly fell under the Star Trek sway – the idea of actually […]

 

Download October’s Startup Index


The Nokia X Sensing challenge drew 11 finalists. Each company fell into 1 of 2 groups: a do-it-all sensor or a specialized sensor. EMI, one of the multi-purpose tests, won the challenge and $525,000.

One set of entrepreneurs clearly fell under the Star Trek sway – the idea of actually building a tricorder that could detect anything that might be wrong with a person. “Give us a single drop of blood and we’ll tell if you need to be worrying about gout or heart disease.”

Some of the do-it-all companies are:

  • Archimej Technology – Analyze between 10 and 20 well-known natural bio-markers (including cardiac, kidney function and liver function markers, as well as lipids profiles) with only one drop of blood.
  • DMI – Integrated portable flow cytometer, nanostrips and non-invasive vitals strap into the rHEALTH sensor, which is designed to assess hundreds of different clinical lab tests in a single drop of blood.
  • Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team – A low-cost, easy-to-use, accurate, portable sensing device that is designed for the simultaneous detection of up to 10 health indicators.

The other group is more firmly rooted in this decade and the most expensive problems facing payers, providers and patients. These entrepreneurs have developing solutions for specific health issues, like heart disease or pain. The more focused sensors include:

  • eyeMITRA – Real-time health status assessment initially targeted towards early detection and monitoring of Diabetic Retinopathy.
  • SensoDX – Capable of assessing, with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, a patient’s overall cardiac risk long before mortality ensues.
  • Hemolix – A high-speed blood plasma testing system using a mobile phone for the early and rapid detection of HELLP syndrome, a dangerous pregnancy complication.

I understand the appeal of Star Trek, and I believe devices like the Google X nanoparticle pill will work, eventually, and will catch illness as soon as it starts. However, in the short-term, it’s better to aim smaller and focus on people who really need help like women with high-risk pregnancies, people with Type 1 diabetes and people with heart disease.

Payers and providers know that people with diabetes and cancer and heart disease need help now. Using technology to make those disease easier to treat and to survive will pave the way for big leaps forward like the a true tricorder and or nano-medicine.

Some of the startups in this month’s report are taking that more focused, near-term approach to treating illnesses. They include:

  • Vida – A mobile health startup with a 24/7 service that uses live interactions with physicians via text and video to help people with chronic conditions make better health decisions.

  • Decisive Health
    – a San Francisco startup that won the Livestrong Foundation’s inaugural Big C competition and $25,000 for its Treatment Explorer development tool for cancer patients.
  • TelCare – An FDA-approved glucose monitoring platform to connect caretakers and providers with patients and send proactive messages based on the data it captures.

These startups are working on products and services that are less sexy than the tricorder, but these innovations that will have a much bigger impact much sooner.


Download October’s Startup Index