20 companies to watch in the new wave of data-driven healthcare

With the rapid increase in four kinds of available data on health and healthcare (as explained in my earlier post), new companies are launching to put the data to work. According to a recent U.S. report on National Public Radio, venture capitalists have invested $2 billion in digital health startups so far this year. The recent Health Datapalooza in Washington, DC showcased many of them in different stages of development from beta or even pre-beta to fully functional. We have also identified a number of health data companies through the Open Data 500 study that I direct at New York University.

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Here are 20 examples of the new health data companies that show the range of applications. While these examples all come from North America, their business models could be followed anywhere in the world. I have put them in four categories where the growth seems to be greatest: Improving Healthcare, Reducing Costs, Personal Health Management, and Data Management and Analytics.

I. IMPROVING HEALTHCARE

Aidin is dedicated to helping hospital patients find better post-hospital care. CEO and Founder Russ Graney saw the need for Aidin when his uncle was discharged from the hospital with nothing but a typed list of healthcare providers for guidance. The family chose one that happened to be nearby, and the uncle did not get the quality of care he needed. Now Aidin provides in-depth information to help patients and their families choose their best options.

iTriage, started by an emergency room doctor and recently acquired by Aetna, lets you use a website or your smartphone to log in your symptoms, get quick advice on the kind of care you need, and get a list of nearby facilities that can help. If you are travelling and wake up in the middle of the night with chest pain, for example, the app can help you determine how serious your symptoms are and help you find the nearest emergency room if you need it. iTriage uses open data from the U.S.  National Provider Identifier Registry to identify physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers that can help in a crisis.

Healthy Communities Institute uses 50 state and federal data sources to help community leaders take on core challenges: ‘pinpointing at-risk populations and areas of need, implementing programs proven to affect change, creating efficiencies by partnering with internal and external groups, then tracking and reporting your results in a transparent way to all your stakeholders.’

Kyruus specializes in connecting patients efficiently to providers who will help them. Its Patient Access & Referral Management solutions, the website says, “enable healthcare delivery organizations to precisely match patient demand to provider supply, engender patient retention and loyalty, and maximize staff productivity.”

Purple Binder fills an important public need: it matches patients with community services that can help keep them healthy. The company’s research team, which has a background in social work, takes in federal, state, and local data and uses it to produce new, accessible Open Data for consumers to use. The Purple Binder app helps individuals locate food pantries, homeless shelters, and other services that represent a large public investment but are often hard to find. As Founder Joseph Flesh said at the Health Datapalooza: “We’re working toward putting community and health on the same page” by making connections between healthcare services and social services.

II. REDUCING COSTS

Accordion Health plans to use Open Data to help families estimate their healthcare costs and optimally find the best care at the best price. The challenge is to account for differences between patients by analyzing millions, or hundreds of millions of data points, and much of the data they will eventually need is not yet publicly available.

Clear Health Costs, founded by health activist Jeanne Pinder, bills itself as “your source for health-care prices.” The company uses pricing surveys on a few dozen common procedures; Medicare data like a new hospital cost database that was launched during the Health Datapalooza; and crowdsourced data on healthcare prices gathered from volunteers. The ultimate goal: move from providing data on cost to provide quality metrics too.

Karmadata: As National Public Radio described it, Karmadata “is founded on the idea that software engineers can find ways to use big data to save the government or large companies money — and that such organizations will share some of their savings” with the company. Open Data on cost and care let Karmadata figure out how to streamline healthcare for their business clients.

III. PERSONAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT

ActualMeds  helps people and their doctors manage their medications accurately and effectively.   In the words of its website, ActualMeds’ software “creates and maintains an accurate list of all of a patient’s medications, along with prescribing information from the patient’s electronic medical record, and fill and refill information from insurance claims. Medication reconciliation and risk information can be made available to all involved with a patient’s care, including family, caregivers and providers.”

CareSync  helps people organize their medical appointments, manage their medical data, create ‘Care Reports’ on doctors’ visits, coordinate their healthcare with different providers, and manage all their medical records.

Fitbit, founded in 2007, is a leader in devices that collect personal data that people can use as part of a health and fitness plan. Using sensors and wireless technology, the company’s products help individuals collect data on their sleep and activity levels that they can use to monitor and improve their health.

Humetrix. This company’s website says that it “has pioneered the development of innovative consumer-centered IT solutions over the past 15 years, which have been deployed around the world. In healthcare, Humetrix mobile applications are providing consumers their own health IT systems for enhanced patient safety, care coordination and cost control to help transform healthcare.” The company’s mobile apps let people access and store health records and share information with their doctors.

Iodine was founded to help improve healthcare by personalizing it for each individual. The company analyzes large healthcare datasets and puts that data together with information on an individual’s medical situation and background to provide individualized health guidance.

Propeller Health, formerly called Asthmapolis, uses inhaler sensors, mobile apps, and data analytics to help doctors identify asthma patients who need additional help to control their illness. In addition to helping physicians monitor their patients remotely, Propeller Health gives public health experts a way to visualize the prevalence of asthma in different communities and devise preventive strategies.

Zipongo, dedicated to healthy eating, provides a mobile app that helps people plan their menus, choose healthy foods, and use data about local markets to find those foods at the best price.

IV. DATA MANAGEMENT AND ANALYTICS

Archimedes, which began as part of Kaiser Permanente in 1993, has spent two decades developing algorithms and analytic tools to create predictive models for health care. Using data from sources, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), databases of clinical trials, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Archimedes develops models of health status and the impact of medical interventions in different populations, and tools to help match patients to treatments at the point of care.

JEN Associates: This company’s specialty is health data analytics, using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other sources. JEN’s work has applications that range from informing health policy to helping with individual healthcare decisions.

MarkLogic: Like many companies in the Open Data 500 study, MarkLogic’s role is to make open government data more useful to businesses and to government agencies themselves. The company has developed an advanced database structure (technically called a NoSQL database) for defense and intelligence agencies, and has also used it to build the Healthcare.gov platform.

Privacy Analytics: This Canadian company works with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and others to help make their data available for public use. They take on the challenge of anonymizing datasets – removing personal and private information – while retaining enough detail to make the data useful for analysis. With increasing interest in open health data, and growing concern about privacy protection at the same time, this kind of work will become more and more important.

For further updates and analysis, stay tuned to the site Open Data Now with news, regulatory announcements, case studies and events.


Joel Gurin

Joel Gurin

Joel Gurin is the author of the book Open Data Now, and Senior Advisor at the Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University. He directs the Open Data 500, the first comprehensive study of US-based companies that use open government data as a key business resource. Gurin previously served as Chair of the White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure, as Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the US Federal Communications Commission, and as Editorial Director and then Executive Vice President of Consumer Reports.