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It’s an interesting time to be a healthcare startup. The global economy was already shifting rapidly before public health took center stage in 2020. The past year amounted to a colossal stress test on our physical and mental health, and the results were clear: the need for 21st-century solutions goes far beyond virology, immunology, and epidemiology. Several promising solutions have emerged to meet those needs.
These five innovative startups highlight the variety of challenges facing the healthcare sector and how rapidly emerging technologies can be applied to meet them.
Expectant mothers face a strenuous journey in the best of circumstances, but a critical shortage of obstetrical providers in the U.S. has added to their burden. When the global health crisis hit in early 2020, some providers shifted 100 percent of their patients to remote-monitoring tools. Babyscripts was uniquely positioned to help OBGYNs safely keep their patients out of the clinic while maintaining quality care. During the early months of 2020, Babyscripts witnessed up to 600 percent growth in the use of these tools.
Babyscripts’ remote-monitoring platform allows providers to track vital signs like blood pressure and intervene when elevated risk is detected. Its mobile app relays critical information to patients, such as changes to hospital visitation policies.
CEO and co-founder Anish Sebastian said around 20 percent of moms suffer from mental health issues in and after pregnancy, but the risk is often overlooked during doctor appointments because of time limitations, stigmas, and other reasons. For 2021, Babyscripts is piloting a first-of-its-kind product for real-time remote monitoring of maternal mental health, facilitated by a care provider. The product is currently being beta-tested at George Washington Medical Faculty Associates (GW-MFA), among others, before it officially launches.
Related: Healthtech is the New Healthcare
2. Fisher Wallace Laboratories
As depression and anxiety emerged as national health crises, clinicians struggled to meet the demand for mental health services. For those with little or no access to prescription drugs or therapy sessions, Fisher Wallace Laboratories has a solution: a unique cranial electrotherapy device, the only transcranial device on the market.
The Fisher Wallace stimulator has shown promise in clinical trials for treating depression, anxiety, and insomnia. One 20-minute treatment activates key neurotransmitters, including dopamine, beta-endorphin and serotonin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol.
More than 10,000 physicians and other mental health professionals have prescribed the device for their patients already. The past year has seen a 25 percent increase in demand, according to CEO Chip Fisher. Fisher believes different therapeutics, not just pure pharmaceutical interventions, will only gain acceptance as time goes on. The FDA is currently moving toward Class II approval, based upon the success of several large peer studies.
TailorMed is an industry-disrupting software platform that helps health systems and specialty practices identify patients at risk of not paying for care. From there, the provider can enroll the patient in a wide variety of resources: financial assistance programs, community and state resources, insurance plans, premium assistance, and programs that support patients with their living expenses.
TailorMed is now in more than 50 healthcare facilities and 200 clinics nationwide.
CEO Srulik Dvorsky created the company after serving as a caregiver for several family members with cancer. He recognized how the high cost of healthcare placed stress on patients who couldn’t afford their medical bills — and the resulting financial strain it put on healthcare providers. According to a recent Bankrate survey, nearly 22 percent of Americans avoided using medical care during the global health crisis due to prohibitive costs.
Male infertility accounts for 40 to 50 percent of all infertility cases and affects approximately 7 percent of all men. Yet relatively few innovations have made it easier for infertile men to start a family.
Dadi is a take-home sperm testing kit that returns a complete medical evaluation within 24 hours after it arrives at the laboratory. If the patient’s sperm is healthy, Dadi can cryogenically store the sample in its state-of-the-art, secure lab facility. A viable deposit is divided into three separate vials, giving each patient three opportunities to fertilize an egg with one kit.
Why store a sperm sample? Freezing sperm in their healthiest form is a novel insurance policy against infertility, allowing aspiring fathers to guard against a future medical condition or hormonal deficiency later in life. CEO Tom Smith says his clients include men in their late teens to their 70’s.
The combination of financial stressors and medical emergencies has overwhelmed many Americans over the past year. If not unemployment or underemployment, medical plans that carry high deductibles caused many to avoid visiting their doctor when they ought to.
This comes with consequences. HealthBridge co-founder and COO Amy Chambers said employees might stay sicker for longer, assuming they do not experience more grave outcomes. They might miss work or incur more expensive care downstream because they weren’t seen promptly.
Launched as a pilot in 2019, HealthBridge expanded in 2020 as the demand for financial assistance escalated. Its goal is to make healthcare more affordable and accessible. It covers an employee’s medical expenses, such as deductibles and copays, and consolidates them into a single monthly installment plan ― like a credit card without the added interest. HealthBridge runs on a proprietary IT system that covers all medical in-network and out-of-pocket expenses and is guaranteed to everyone enrolled in a company’s health plan with no enrollment forms.