Junto Profile: Nicotrax

We all know how difficult it is to quit smoking. Whether we have learned through mass media campaigns, watching friends or family members battle addiction, or battled addiction ourselves, the health consequences of smoking are not unknown. Sixteen million people in the United States live with smoking-related diseases. However, despite the public perception of smoking as dangerous and harmful, 34.3 million people in the United States still smoke.

A major reason that many people continue to smoke is because quitting is incredibly difficult. Only 4-7% of people who attempt to quit smoking are able to do so once-and-for-all. Many Americans have spent decades formulating this addictive habit, and despite their doctors’ warnings, various treatment programs, and their family’s pleadings, they simply cannot stop.

Enter Nicotrax. Nicotrax uses digital technology to optimize the efficacy of smoking therapeutics. Using Artificial Intelligence, Nicotrax personalizes treatment plans for smokers, allowing them to quit faster and more cost-effectively. At the frontier of digital health, Nicotrax gives smokers hope that quitting is possible.

We spoke with the Kyle Linton, CEO of Nicotax, to learn more about Nicotrax’s innovative approach to therapeutics for those who smoke.

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Three Lessons that Digital Health Can Learn From Biotech

In 2019, we can expect to hear a lot from two of the investment community’s favorite industries: digital health and biotechnology. Both industries experienced record-breaking years in 2018. Globally, over $11 billion was invested in biotechnology companies in 2018 despite a challenging Q4, shattering the previous record set in 2015. On the digital health side, $3.49 billion was invested in digital health startups in the US, equivalent to the annual National Healthcare Expenditure. 

 However, while these two industries are similar in their sustained growth and promise, they sit at very different stages in their maturity. Since the introduction of recombinant DNA in 1976, the biotech industry has seen enormous growth, and its innovations have become an integral component of our daily lives. In modern society, we are wholly dependent on genetically-engineered innovations and pharmaceuticals that biotech brought forth. Biotech has become ubiquitous, and often governs our lives in ways we can’t easily identify. From the medications we take, to the food we eat, to the detergent we clean with, and the plastics and fabrics we use, biotechnology innovation touches many facets of our daily routines.

Conversely, digital health just recently (<10 years) emerged as a profitable venture following the most recent tech boom that has led to rapid  mobile app development, increased prevalence of data analytics, and the commercialization of personal IoT devices. Unlike biotech, we have yet to see digital health bee universally adopted. While companies such as Apple are pushing for the commercialization of digital health with moves such as integrating ECG capabilities into their newest Apple Watch, many hospitals and clinics are just beginning to implement digital health products into their workflows. Digital health is still an infant industry, but is full of potential. 

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Junto Profile: Health Recovery Solutions (HRS)

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2013, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began instituting financial penalties on hospitals with excessive readmission. This program, called Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP),  reduces Medicaid and Medicare payments to hospitals who fail to keep patients with Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Heart Failure (HF), Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery, and Pneumonia out of the hospital for 30 days after their initial visit. This financial penalty was instated to make hospitals take responsibility for the quality of care provided. With HRRP in place, hospital readmission within a 30-day window has now become expensive and time-consuming issue for hospitals and patients alike. Excessive Readmission Rates (ERR) reduce quality of care across the country. 

Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) works to reduce hospital readmission rates through technology. Through customized, disease-specific software platforms, in addition to a web portal and phone application, HRS allows clinicians and patients to track, manage, and communicate information surrounding their treatments plans, keeping patients out of the hospital. We spoke with Jarrett Bauer, CEO & Founder of HRS, to better understand how HRS is revolutionizing at-home care to keep patients from being re-hospitalized. By studying the leading causes of hospital re-admittance, Bauer has designed a variety of technological and data-driven tools that address patient, family member, caretaker, and clinician needs. 

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Junto Profile: TextUp

For those of us who do not provide direct care to customers, clients, or patients, it is easy to forget how demanding service-based roles can be. Providing personalized, around-the-clock attention is physically and emotionally exhausting. Initial communication, and necessary follow-ups, are both time-consuming and difficult to track as they accumulate in voicemail and email inboxes. Social workers, physicians, therapists, and teachers know that their job rarely consists of a standard 8-hour workday. Even when these professionals are technically “off-the-clock”, they still maintain open communication channels with those they serve. Managing these communication channels, while still respecting time away from work, is a pervasive challenge in service-based industries.

TextUp, a software platform for care providers, streamlines and manages essential communications for those responsible for personalized care. Founded by a team of social workers, Text Up uses technology to monitor text and call communications for service providers. Social work agencies, schools, medical care providers, and therapist offices have all marveled at the ease of communicating internally and externally through Text Up’s platform.

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Junto Profile: genneve

There are 34 commonly recognized symptoms of menopause. This extensive list of symptoms range from irritability, to panic disorder, to gum problems, to electric shock sensation. Many of these symptoms mirror those of life-threatening diseases and disorders. And yet, while menopause is emotionally and physically taxing, it a completely safe and normal biological process that all women undergo. The management of penomause symptoms introduces a challenge both for women, and their care practitioners. With such a wide range of symptoms, how do clinicians effectively manage and assess menopause? How do care practitioners support menopausal women, and how do these women support themselves? Furthermore, how can women and clinicians understand if their symptoms are cause for medical attention?

Enter genneve, a female-founded health tech startup looking to provide peri- and menopausal women with the resources they need as they live through menopause. Through their telehealth services and extensive library of podcasts, genneve matches women to expert care and advice as they look to understand their menopausal health. We listened to Jill Angelo, former Microsoft Executive and CEO/founder of genneve, describe her journey founding a women’s health startup, as she navigated the male-dominated venture capital and technology spaces.

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Junto Profile: Lyra Health

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental or neurological disorder in their life.

Additionally, mental health-related issues prevail as the leading cause of poor health and disability across the globe, impacting more than 450 million people. Clearly, there is an imminent need for widespread mental health services- across the globe. This need introduces an opportunity for the digital health world to design technologies for mental health and therapies.

Many people do not realize how difficult it is to find the right mental health professional. In her piece “How to Find the Right Therapist”, New York Times author Marissa Miller explains that seeking out a therapist is like “dating”, and that a fabulous therapist for one individual is not effective match for another individual. Miller recounts her process of asking for recommendations from friends, only to find that her friend’s recommendations did not suit her needs. Miller explains that it took her three years to find the correct mental health professional for herself.

What if technology could be used to increase the speed and efficacy of therapist matching to help people like Miller? Lyra Health does just that. Headquartered in Burlingame, California, Lyra Health uses a digital match-making process to match individuals to the right kind of treatment, and the correct professional for their specific needs. We spoke with Amelia Gilbert, Director of Partnerships at Lyra Health, to understand how Lyra is using technology to increase the efficacy of mental health care.

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Junto Profile: MirrorMe3D

From cosmetic surgery, to breast reduction, to post-trauma facial reconstruction, surgery in the United States is widely prevalent in the United States. In 2002, the American College of Surgeons calculated that the average American will undergo 9.2 surgeries in their lifetime. Despite this prevalence, the complications of ill-performed surgical procedures still remain a pressing issue. 3% of hospitalized patients who received surgical procedures experience adverse complications. These complications range from steep drops in blood pressure, hemorrhaging, wound infection, and many more deadly consequences.

MirrorMe3D, based in New York, creates full-color, patient-specific 3-D soft-tissue models, useful for modeling surgical procedures. Using .mtl files from high-quality 3-D cameras, engineers at MirrorMe3D perfect and cut exact replicas of surgical processes. By creating intensely precise templates made of flesh-like soft tissue material, surgeons can conduct complex and intricate surgeries with greater accuracy, diminishing the overall rate of surgeon error. Additionally, by providing patients with 3-D models of their surgical procedures, patients can visualize their procedure before it happens, providing a piece of mind. Patients and surgeons alike have provided positive feedback on MirrorMe3D’s innovate approach to surgical modeling, contributing to higher patient satisfaction and safety. We spoke with Jordan Mills, CEO at MirrorMe3D, to understand how MirrorMe3D has improved surgical procedures thus far, and the impact that MirrorMe3D’s soft-tissue 3D modeling has for the future of surgery.

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Junto Profile: PsoHappy

Caring for patients with chronic conditions is challenging for a multitude of reasons. The lack of a sustained, cure-all treatment makes chronic conditions taxing for both patients and clinicians alike. While many people understand the physical turmoil component of a chronic condition, the emotional turmoil is far more difficult to qualify, and quantify. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, LEO Innovation Lab, founded by LEO Pharmaceuticals, looks to understand chronic skin conditions in totality, not just in their physical manifestation. In tandem with other pharmaceutical companies looking to move ‘beyond the pill’, LEO Innovation Lab designs holistic digital-tech solutions that provide patient care in ways medications can not.

In order to effectively address unanswered patient needs, LEO Innovation Lab needed to hear from patients themselves. Through their digital application, PsoHappy, LEO Innovation Lab surveys patients with chronic skin conditions to understand the mental impact of such conditions, such as psoriasis. Using this data, LEO Innovation Lab has generated two World Psoriasis Happiness Reports, which quantify the mental impact of chronic skin conditions. The reports generated startling statistics as to the true global costs that chronic conditions inflict on society. We spoke with Catalina Cernica, Director of the PsoHappy project at LEO Innovation Lab, to understand the accomplishments of PsoHappy, the findings of the latest World Psoriasis Happiness Report, and where LEO Innovation Lab is looking to grow their digital health platform.

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Patient Protection in the Era of the Doctorpreneur

The term “doctorpreneur” has been coined by the media to refer to the ambitious group of doctors who are disrupting the healthcare industry with innovation solutions to pervasive problems. Over the years, the medical community has earned its place in the startup world, proving that it’s not just computer scientists and engineers who can innovate in the 21st century. In the past 20 years, the number of joint MD-MBA programs in the United States has grown from just 6 programs to more than 70. Even those without an MBA degree are finding the allure of the business and tech world intriguing and have sidelined their professional medical practices to pursue healthcare business ventures.

The concept of having doctors design health tech solutions for fellow clinicians makes perfect sense on many levels. No one has better insight into the needs of clinicians and patients than medical professionals themselves, as they are the individuals who regularly experience the challenges these solutions seek to overcome. The perspective that doctors hold in regards to the inner workings of the healthcare system is one which even an experienced business professional is unlikely to ever gain.

While the success of the physician-founded startup is promising, it also introduces new challenges to patient protection. This new frontier introduces greater complexity to questions surrounding physicians involvement with business endeavors, and specifically, how doctors balance corporate financial and advisory roles alongside their role as unbiased care providers.

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