Category Archive For "Startup Spotlight"
MediBot is revolutionizing the way that people take their medication. It happens too often that people on prescription medicine will forget when or how much to take, but MediBot is making sure that these things don’t get lost by the wayside in the business of everyday life. MediBot has made it as simple as a single text message and from then on your electronic devices will remind you to take your prescriptions on a daily basis.
Between the use of AI and the integration with new technology, MediBot is on the forefront of medication adherence and their CEO, Francisco Ruiz, was kind enough to answer some questions about his company and the medical field in which it operates.
Q: Tell us a little about your organization and your focus.
A: MediBot is a medication adherence platform that leverages Artificial Intelligence and Conversational Interfaces to send reminders tailored a patients’ behavioral health indicators.
Q: What was your inspiration for the company?
A: While working with our customers in the public health sector we realized the behavioral causes of low medication adherence, a $100 billion+ problem in US healthcare, causing 125,000+ deaths per year. We decided to engage with a medical device company funded by the Gates foundation to do a pilot on how to use cognitive artificial intelligence for medication adherence, and once we realized the positive impact on patients and the vision for smarter daily health decisions, MediBot was born.
Q: What specific value does your company offer that others in the field don’t?
A: We rely on Conversational Interfaces to create an extremely simple interface that doesn’t require downloads, installations or apps. In addition we’re very excited about using products like Amazon Echo, Google Home so people can be reminded by voice, tailored to their personality type.
Q: What audience will benefit most from your product?
A: Individuals that need help remembering to take their medications on a daily basis, especially those that have their medication dosage change frequently.
Q: Over the past 10 years what has been the biggest technological innovation that has shaped your industry, and has this innovation impacted your business directly?
A: The usage of bots and personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo; these devices will definitely shape the future of health and medicine monitoring and compliance. We believe we are in the front of this innovation trend and are excited about the possibilities for personalized medicine.
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned from starting a company?
A: The best lesson learned is to be able to prototype the target solution for a problem and have enough customers (in our case, patients) to provide feedback on the level of pain that it solves, prior to building a complete product.
Q: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you would like our readers to know about?
A: We will be releasing a full integration with Alexa Echo by the end of the year, customers are already testing our prototype and we’re excited of the results to date. In addition, we’re currently partnering with one of the top universities in the US to publish research on the usage of our product in several patient populations.
Q: Where do you see your company 1 year from now?
A: We see us fulfilling on our promise to deliver conversational interfaces for increased medication adherence, scaling the number of patients we’re able to work with on our system.
BackTable is a Dallas-based startup that brings the medical device community together to improve clinical decisions, inspire innovation, and advance patient care through physician driven device reviews. We were able to spend some time with the founder and CEO, Dr. Aaron Fritts, a vascular and interventional radiologist, and ask him a few questions about his company.
Tell us about BackTable.
BackTable gives proceduralists a way to talk tools, situations, tips, and tricks, with one another. BackTable is the medical device community online.
We have two platforms, our website Backtable.com and our mobile app BackTable. Both are a way for physicians to share their experience and expertise about devices relevant to their respective field.
How did you come up with the idea for BackTable?
Once out of training and in practice, I recognized two things regarding medical devices I used in my everyday practice – there was limited access to information and overall paucity of useful information. My available resources were other interventional radiology colleagues, former mentors and device representatives.
These resources were helpful but limited, and in the case of device representatives, obviously biased. Equally important was how slow the exchange of information was. To gather any useful advice took days if not weeks. In contrast, I had instant access to infinitely more information about restaurants in the Dallas area than I did about the equipment I was using to deliver patient care. I want physicians to have immediate access at their fingertips to a wealth of experience for medical devices. That is the need we hope to fulfill at BackTable.
How did you come up with the name BackTable?
We workshopped all kinds of names for our company. Ultimately, it was my wife Gopi, an otolaryngologist, who came up with our name. She suggested BackTable. It really is simple but clever. Virtually every surgeon or proceduralist has a back table on which they lay out equipment for cases. There are so many differences between specialties regarding tools, procedures and patients, but every physician proceduralist has a back table in their operating room.
It is a basic commonality between doctors whose practices are extremely diverse. Most discussions about devices and procedures between physicians, scrub techs, and device reps occur around the backtable.
What types of doctors is BackTable targeting? Just IR physicians or other specialties as well?
I am an interventional radiologist, and our original website was targeted to my specialty. As we have grown, we continue to extend our network to other specialties. The larger our network, the more information we can gather. More information ultimately means a better experience for our users. With the addition of other specialties, we want to create cross pollination of ideas and expertise between different fields.
Can you describe what you mean by cross pollination?
There are many different procedural based physician specialties. Some physician practices are extremely specialized, but there is a lot of overlap between these specialties, and in many cases, overlap of equipment. BackTable seeks to facilitate sharing of ideas between multiple specialties which may have overlapping needs and/or devices.
Cardiology, vascular surgery and interventional radiology are a good example of this concept. A vascular surgeon or interventional radiologist might not perform a left heart cath, but all three specialties perform vascular angioplasty. Cardiologists and interventional radiologists often share information on devices and techniques when it comes to vascular procedures, for example employing radial access for arterial interventions was started by cardiology but has been adopted by interventional radiology.
Tell me about the feedback you have received from BackTable.
People love the idea and love the execution. For an online community committed to sharing experience, we need more users to share their experience. We have a handful of ways for users to contribute. A user can write a review, upload photos and comment on other’s reviews. We are working to increase the amount of content by increasing the number of ways users can contribute.
For example our upcoming MyKit feature will allow users to create backtable kits which includes every device they would use for a given procedure. This is helpful to share with other physicians as well as with the techs that help prepare their backtable.
Many of these procedures are being done by allied health professionals (PA/NP/RA). Will you be including them in the community as well?
Yes. Once we have set in place a secure verification process for allied health professionals we will definitely be interested in their feedback as well.
The escalating cost of healthcare delivery is resulting in more and more scrutiny of device selection during procedures. How do you see BackTable facilitating more cost efficient product selection?
I’ll give you the example of bone marrow biopsy needles. There are several out there. Some are significantly cheaper than others, but because of the poor quality of a cheaper needle you may not get adequate sample, resulting in repeat biopsy and overall increased cost to the hospital and patient.
This kind of feedback can help physicians and hospitals make informed decisions to decrease overall costs (including additional factors such as procedure times, patient comfort, etc.) and not just making decisions based simply on cost of the device. We want to bring all the information about the device to the table.
Tell us about the team you have assembled for Backtable.
We partnered with TEC, a startup studio, to launch our platform and company. They have provided BackTable with the technical resources to build the platform (UI / UX design, product development) and essential guidance in marketing and business development to help get the company structured and up and running, and keep it on track as we grow.
Our Medical Advisory team consists of Interventional Radiologists Bryan Hartley MD and Chris Beck MD, our Urology advisor Jose Silva MD, and ENT advisor Gopi Shah MD.
What are your company goals over the next 12 months?
- We plan to increase our penetration to 20% of US interventional radiologists contributing to the platform.
- We’d like to top 1000 reviews on IR devices.
- Roll out the Urology, ENT and Interventional cardiology platforms along with app support.
We had a chance to talk to Raydiant Oximetry’s CMO, Neil Ray, to learn more about their important work. We hope you enjoy this conversation. To learn more about Raydiant Oximetry, make sure to check out their profile page on angelMD
Can you tell us a little about Raydiant Oximetry and your focus?
“A lot of companies in the field of OB-GYN focus on helping people get pregnant. But that’s just the first part, you want to make sure the child is healthy during pregnancy, which is what our company aims to do.
We are a team of two Anesthesiologists, an OB-GYN , and a Ph.D. in physics with the mission to keep mothers and babies safe during childbirth by developing better fetal monitors.”
What does the market look like for your company?
“In the USA, there are over four million child births annually which are associated with 15 million hospital visits. Around the world, there are 140 million childbirths. In addition, 900 mothers and 20,000 babies die on a daily basis around the world from childbirth related complications. C-sections are the number one surgery performed in the USA and according to the World Health Organization, half of them are unnecessary.”
How do you see your product being uniquely successful?
“Previous attempts to develop fetal monitors required the placement of invasive probes into the uterus and attached to the fetus. This approach is not ideal for several reasons: mothers complain of discomfort, clinicians report difficulty working around the device, the device migrates, and most importantly, the device can only be used after the cervix has dilated, the amniotic sac has ruptured and the fetus has descended.
We are able to use the abdominal approach and remain truly non-invasive. Additionally, this allows use to begin fetal monitoring in the third trimester of pregnancy before the cervix begins dilating.”
Besides the issue your company is addressing, what additional problems in the field of OB-GYN are there to be solved?
“With women having children at an older age, maternal outcomes in the USA are actually getting worse not better. The C-section rate in the USA has jumped four-fold since 1980. The rate of cerebral palsy has remained the same since 1980 when it should be improving. And maternal mortality from maternal hemorrhage is getting worse, not better, with time.” (You can read more about the problem of maternal mortality here.)
How do you see the field of OB-GYN changing in the near future?
“OB-GYN has traditionally been ignored by the investor and innovation community. The fetal monitors that are currently used have been around for 50 years with very few technology advancements. There is so much room for improvement in this field and part of our mission is to educate the medical device community about the opportunities to improve outcomes to 100s of millions of women and babies each year.”
Do you have any upcoming or past events or projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
“We just won the Big Bang Business competition at UC Davis. I am a Pediatric Anesthesiologist at the UC Davis School of Medicine. We also were admitted into the Fogarty Institute for Innovation. Fogarty is a medical device accelerator. They have accepted just 20 teams over the past 10 years and 50 percent of those teams have been successful. We are also finalists for the 2017 Rosenman Innovators. We will be competing for 250k on June 21. at the Rosenman Symposium of UCSF/QB3.”
The world of Pediatrics abounds in opportunity. Growth is large in this healthcare sector as the Food and Drug Administration aims to expand the Pediatric Device Consortia (PDC) Grant Program. The hopes of the program being to better “provide expert advising and support services to innovators of children’s [medical] devices”.
Apnosystems, a medical startup in the pediatrics industry has seemingly caught onto the pediatric innovation wave with their Infant Care System (ICS) wristband. It is a lifesaving medical device capable of causing a sleeping infant that has ceased breathing to stir, and resume breathing. We reached out to Apnosystems to gain some insight into the views of the pediatric field from a startup standpoint and to gain some more knowledge about their product.
Q: Tell us a little about your organization and your focus
A: We are working on a new patented wearable technology that will help babies with sleep breathing conditions. This technology uses pulse oximetry and transcutaneous stimulation to wake the wearer when the wristband detects breathing has paused. We are glad to announce that we have been granted a patent in the United States, New Zealand and Argentina, with many additional countries patent pending.
Q: What does the market look like for your company?
A: Internationally, there are 15 million families which have premature babies. In the United States alone, 1 out of every 10 babies are born prematurely each year. Although we intend for the product to be able for use of all ages, we are primarily focused on premature infants.
Q: How do you see your product being uniquely successful?
A: Anesthesiologists agree: when a patient is in trouble, the problem must be addressed in a matter of seconds or minutes. For the first time ever, there is a wearable device that allows caregivers the opportunity for the infant to wake themselves in a critical situation such as hypoxia or bradycardia. The ICS is a device that acts automatically and within seconds. The ICS helps in three ways: by monitoring, intervening and gathering new and valuable data.
Q: How do you see the field of pediatrics changing in the near future?
A: The FDA has created a Pediatric Device Consortia (PDC). The goal of this PDC Grant Program is to support the development of nonprofit consortia designed to stimulate projects which will promote pediatric device development.
Q: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
A: We will be attending themedtechconference.com this September in San Jose, CA as a Top 100 MedTech Innovator.
Q: What should I have asked you that I didn’t?
A: Perhaps, how is your progress right now? Well, we will have the final prototype by this July.
Make sure to check out Apnosystems on angelMD to find out more about their innovative Infant Care System wristband!
The world of medical referrals is another area where innovation can have a huge impact. Since referrals are traditionally handled via phone calls or faxes, they’re often lost in the shuffle or handled incorrectly. California-based referralMD is modernizing and streamlining the process of physician referrals. The company’s customers are seeing significantly reduced costs, improved patient access to care, and an increase in the quality of service that they can provide.
Dr. Joseph Macaluso had the chance to talk with referralMD CEO Jonathan Govette. Jonathan gave us some insight into what the company is doing today, where it will be heading next, and the changing landscape of healthcare.
What was the inspiration for referralMD?
“I was inspired to create referralMD based on my personal interaction with the health care system. My mother has been hospitalized for much of her life due to a bad car accident, and now Parkinson’s. Living that experience I saw how patients were not receiving the best treatment due to miscommunication when transferred between care settings. I have always wanted to help her and millions of other patients like her receive better treatment.”
“As a business owner myself and a buyer of software, I often wondered why my colleagues in healthcare were behind the times when it came purchasing tools that could help them. I was very fortunate early on that I had great partnerships that helped us create the framework of what was to become referralMD. Now patients can receive better treatment and health systems can improve their reputation with their referral network, increase revenue and reduce leakage. It is a win for all parties involved.”
Who are the founders of referralMD?
“Every founder at referralMD has started other healthcare companies with each boasting over 20 plus years of experience growing successful companies. The ability to understand risk, knowledge of how to navigate that risk, and the willpower to persevere are all integral to referralMD’s success and helped propel us to where we are at now,” adds Govette.
What milestones has referralMD achieved to date?
“referralMD has done some remarkable things thus far, one of which was to build an amazing product that is far more advanced than any other solution that it competes against. Not only that but we have built the leading marketing engine in the world by ranking # 1 on Google for all major search terms such as healthcare technology and patient referral management.
Also, we have begun to achieve market success with a number of successful contract completions. Testimony to our unique venture was our acceptance into the competitive Cedars Sinai (Los Angeles) Accelerator. New contracts with Cedars Sinai are being currently executed through various departments.”
“Additionally, the opportunity to help stem the leakage of referrals due to antiquated systems such as phone and fax referral systems, mean billions of dollars of lost opportunities for providers.”
What are the future challenges that you face?
“Our major challenge is finding amazing talent to join the team and doubling our team size. Thes are key immediate needs. referrealMD’s lead base is extensive and the company will need to expand in order to close those contacts. Proceeds from current fund raise will go mainly to expansion of sales and customer service.”
If you were not leading referralMD what would you all be doing?
“We are based in San Francisco CA, and referralMD’s entire executive team are serial entrepreneurs and have been for many years, with many startups under our belts. So no doubt we would still be building great healthcare applications if referralMD never came to light.”
What is your latest meaningful read?
“I prefer to read industry publications and the like to learn firsthand from other entrepreneurs”, Govette commenbts. “I like asking questions directly and getting answers versus reading them in print and always make it a point to ask people that you do not know for help and then offer the same if they need advice. It is a great way to build amazing partnerships.”
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