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Dropout Docs – The Answer for #HealthIT Startups?

Posted on July 23, 2015 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to our ranks. If you’re on social media, you probably know Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung), Co-Host of #hcldr. Colin is also head of Marketing for @PatientPrompt, a product offered by Stericycle Communication Solutions. We look forward to many posts from Colin in the future.

Recently both Nick van Terheyden (@drnic1) and Mandi Bishop (@MandiBPro) shared a link to an interesting article via Facebook. “Dropout Docs: Bay Area Doctors Quit Medicine to Work for Digital Health Startups”.
Dropout Doctors - Bay Area Doctors Leave Medicine for Healthcare Startups
The article highlights a new phenomenon happening In the Bay area – would-be doctors are dropping out of prestigious medical schools to pursue careers in digital health. Even those that complete their schooling are opting to join digital health start-ups/incubators (like Rock Health located in San Francisco, very close to USCF Medical Center) rather than apply for residency.

Being a doctor or a surgeon was once the pinnacle of achievement in American society, but with changes to reimbursements and general healthcare frustration, many are not seeing the practice of medicine as the rosy utopia it used to be (or was it ever?). Now even physicians are succumbing to the siren call of #HealthIT where there is a chance to “do good” and make a difference on a large scale.

I believe this trend could be a good thing for #HealthIT. Having more peers who are enthusiastic and passionate about improving healthcare can lead to more positive innovations. Consider the following quote from a doctor who joined a health care company instead of practicing medicine (from the KQED article):

“I realized that the system isn’t designed for doctors to make the real change you would like to for the patient.”

Having more people who want to put the patient at the center of healthcare makes my #HealthIT heart race. You can’t teach people to have this inner fire. It is something that is intrinsic to the individual…and we need more peers in #HealthIT with this flame.

There is just one line from the article that don’t agree with:

“…dropout doctors are well-positioned for a career in digital health as they have an insider’s view of the industry – and ideas about how to fix it.”

I think it is a bit of a stretch to say that people who went through med-school have a true “insider’s view”. Having not worked in a practice or in a healthcare setting, they would not be familiar with the political, financial or workflow aspects of care on the front lines. I hope these doc-dropouts are humble enough to remain open-minded as they listen to real-life customers provide feedback on the technologies and solutions they are involved with. In fact, dropout docs would be well served by remembering one particular part of their medical training – truly listening to the patient – which in this case may be the entirety of healthcare.

7 Health Tech Accelerators You Should Know About

Posted on November 6, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

You don’t have to look far to find a health IT accelerator. At least, not as far as you used to.

Programs to give healthcare entrepreneurs a boost are appearing throughout the country, providing opportunities for innovators who don’t live in a major tech hub — and don’t want to move to one.

Here are a few accelerator programs to know about, with special attention to those away from the coasts:

  • The Iron Yard is based in Spartanburg, S.C., and seeks companies involved in areas such as wellness apps and enterprise software. It provides $20,000 in seed capital and three months of mentoring and workshops in areas such as fundraising, user interface development and lean startup methodology.
  • Healthbox is operating programs in Chicago, Nashville and Jacksonville, Fla., in addition to Boston and London. (OK, technically, Jacksonville is on the East Coast, but still.) It’s a four-month program that provides startups with $50,000 in seed capital along with office space, mentoring and training. Healthbox asks for 7 percent in equity. According to the accelerator’s website: “Competitive applicants will address a specific and pressing challenge in the healthcare industry. For example, solutions of interest may improve patient engagement, provider effectiveness or preventative health and wellness.”
  • DreamIt Health started in Philadelphia and has expanded to Austin and Baltimore. The Baltimore version, which will last four months, is selecting as many as 10 firms from around the world and offering as much as $50,000 in stipend money and professional services. Applicants should be “working to use IT to solve significant industry problems faced by key healthcare stakeholders including providers, payers, public health, biopharma, device makers, employers and patients themselves.”
  • The Sprint Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is a program launching in Kansas City with a focus on mobile health technology. The three-month intensive mentorship program will begin in March, with startups receiving as much as $120,000, including $20,000 in seed funding and an optional $100,000 convertible debt note.
  • Health Wildcatters is a new accelerator in Dallas that invests as much as $35,000 in each firm. It’s open to a broader range of startups than some of the other programs, stating on its website: “Many healthcare IT, SaaS, digital health and mobile health companies are a fit, but we also encourage medical device, diagnostic and even pharma companies to apply.” Wildcatters takes an 8 percent equity stake. The site explains that in Texas parlance, wildcatters are “independent oil entrepreneurs willing to take chances with regard to where they drill” and that their success comes from “low operating costs and the ability to mobilize quickly.”
  • XLerateHealth runs a 10-week program in Louisville, Ky. Selected teams get a $20,000 stipend and donated professional services worth an estimated $50,000. The goal is to “help early stage healthcare companies build out their commercialization strategy, which includes their intersection with Payers, Providers (hospitals, ACOs, nursing homes, home health and group practices), and customers (employers and/or consumers).” XLerateHealth receives a 6 percent equity stake.
  • Innov8 for Health operates several programs in Cincinnati. This month it’s holding a Health Startup Showcase in which firms present their solutions to entrepreneurs, potential customers and investors and compete for $5,000 in cash and in-kind services. Last year it helped to launch seven companies in a 12-month accelerator program providing each firm with $20,000 in seed funding.

There are, of course, plenty of other programs. Paul Sonnier has compiled a more comprehensive list at Story of Digital Health.

With the rise of open platforms and the growing number of support networks, health IT entrepreneurship has become a viable career option for many.

And, now more than ever, it’s possible to innovate close to home.

Crowdfunding Healthcare Startups – Medstartr and Indiegogo

Posted on October 5, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I have been seeing more and more activity around the idea of using the crowds to fund various healthcare IT startup companies. This shouldn’t be that surprising to any of us given the success of websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They’ve created a whole new way to raise money for passion projects. Plus, as they’ve grown they’ve shown a new way to see if your customer really wants what you plan to offer.

One challenge is that Kickstarter generally hasn’t approved healthcare startup company projects on their platform. In fact, a whole company was born to try and help solve the problem of making crowdfunding available to healthcare. This company is called MedStartr.

I’ve been keeping an eye on it for quite a while. So far they’ve had some successes with these projects getting funding: Medstartr, The Walking Gallery, Peer-to-Peer Global Support for Rare Disease, and Avado. Plus, Reconstruction Bras for Breast Cancer Survivors and Previvors have met their goal, but are still raising money.

I think the most exciting one is The Walking Gallery since it raised well over twice of the money requested. I’m interested to see how some of my friends like referralMD and My Crisis Records do on Medstartr. Their projects are still open if you want to back them.

I think the biggest challenge with Medstartr right now is that it’s currently a “bring your own crowd” fundraising platform. The platform works to raise money if you already have a built in audience that is willing to pay to support it. So far, Medstartr hasn’t been able to produce a large community of “backers” that can fund a project that gets listed. In fact, I don’t think Medstartr even reached its fundraising goal in its campaign (although, it’s listed as such on the website now).

What is also really interesting is a healthcare project that was posted on Indiegogo for a Asthma Education App. So far it has raised $7125 for Health Nuts Media who wants to create the app. That’s not a bad start for their app with 27 people helping to fund that goal. Although, even that number was influenced by a $5000 commitment from Medicomp Systems makers of Medcin. I’d be interested to know how they landed that backing. That’s a nice one and if they can get more of those, that will be powerful.

The good thing with Indiegogo is that whatever money is raised the project gets. In Kickstarter you have to reach your goal or the project gets $0 of funding. I haven’t heard which model Medstartr has chosen to adopt.

We’re still in the early days of Crowdfunding. Plus, true crowdfunding (ie. small investment for small equity) is still waiting on the official rules to be put out. That could really change how companies get funded. I’m excited about the opportunity, but cautious about the challenge of getting enough people to care about healthcare enough to support those projects.