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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.

Android Security Risks May Outweigh Benefits

Posted on April 26, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Not long ago, my colleague John Lynn made a compelling pitch for the Android platform, arguing that it’s likely to take over healthcare eventually given its flexibility.  That flexibility stands in sharp contrast to Apple phones and tablets, which work quite elegantly but also impose rigid requirements on app developers.

That being said, however, there’s security risks associated with Android that might outweigh its advantages. The major carriers are doing little or nothing to upgrade and patch the Android versions on the phones they sell, leaving them open to security breaches.

The Android security problem is so egregious that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with the  Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate how AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile handle software updates on their phones.

In the complaint, the civil liberties group argues that the carriers have been engaging in “unfair and deceptive business practices” by failing to let customers know about well-known unpatched security flaws in the Android devices that they sell.

What makes things worse, the ACLU suggests, is that the carriers aren’t even offering consumers the option to update their phones.  Though Google has continued to fix flaws in the Android OS, these fixes aren’t being bundled and pushed out to the wireless carriers’ customers.  As the ACLU rightly notes, such behavior is unheard of in the world of desktop operating systems, where consumers regularly get updates from Apple and Microsoft.

In its complaint the ACLU argues that the carriers must either provide security updates to customers or allow them to get refunds on their devices and terminate their contracts without any penalty. It’s asking the FTC to force the carriers’ hand.

In the mean time, with healthcare requiring strict data security under HIPAA, one has to wonder whether hospitals and medical practices should be using Android devices at all (at least for their work).  Of course, clinicians who are accustomed to using their personal Android phones or tablets will be inconvenienced and probably fairly annoyed too.  But as things stand, hospital CIOs better be really careful about how they handle Android phones in the healthcare environment.

Wireless 2G, 3G and 4G for Healthcare Applications

Posted on October 19, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I’m attending the Mobile Health Conference (mHealth) conference in Las Vegas. So far it’s been a pretty effective conference for me already. Although, I’ve gotten most of the value from the people and vendors I’ve met and talked with. Although, is that really any surprise at a conference. More about those meetings later.

In this morning’s keynote conversation, they had executives from T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint that spoke and then did a short panel discussion. I must admit that I’d hoped for more from the panel discussion and I probably would have rather just had the whole thing a panel discussion. With that said, the most interesting topic they discussed was the 2G, 3G, and 4G topic.

Of course, they didn’t really dig into the different wireless signals like I would have liked to see. However, the executive from T-mobile said both in his speech and in the panel discussion that they’re committed to supporting 2G for 10 more years. Then, he offered this whopper: that most mHealth applications work perfectly fine on 2G and don’t actually need the higher 3G and 4G speeds.

He’s actually right that most health applications do work fine on 2G. However, I can’t help but wonder if that’s a function of there just not being enough 3G and 4G coverage to make it reasonable for a company to make an app that will only work on those faster networks.

From what I’ve seen in the internet world, applications will grow to use whatever resources they are given. Plus, there’s some applications that never get built until they have the resources to make it a reasonable reality.

So, while it may be true that the health applications of today generally work well on 2G, it’s worth asking what applications would we have if 3G and 4G were more widely available? I think we’re getting close to the point that we’ll find out. I imagine most EMR software would be happy to use whatever bandwidth you give them. Not to mention it would improve the user experience.

A few other quick hits:
-The AT&T executive (I believed) argued that they’re getting 4G speeds with 3G technology. So, why should they move to 4G?
-The Sprint executive nailed it on the head when he said that time is the economy of today. Higher speeds and better applications will save people time and that’s valuable.
-I can’t help but wonder where Verizon is. 3 out of 4 isn’t bad though.