Three mHealth startups have won coveted spots on business incubator Rock Health's new accelerator platform. Rock Health just announced 11 overall winners in its first class yesterday.
The program provides $20,000 in startup cash, plus five months of training sessions, mentoring, and workshops with business gurus from places like Harvard (the alma mater for all four of Rock Health's founders), and healthcare/eHealth experts with the Mayo Clinic, Epocrates and Doximity, Rock Health co-founder Halle Tecco tells FierceMobileHealthcare.
Right now the winners are all at different stages of development. Some are still polishing their initial idea, while others have prototypes they're beta-testing and a few are nearly ready for market, Tecco says. The program's goal, she explains, is to develop each participant's business plan, prototype and other key elements so that in five months, the companies are ready to pursue true six- or seven-figure venture capital to bring their products to market.
The three mHealth candidates include:
- CellScope: This University of California-Berkley-developed company is working on smartphone attachments for at-home diagnostic testing. The first prototype, now in development, will diagnose children's ear infections, Tecco says. It works like this: A microscope-type device is attached to the smarthphone, and takes a high-resolution, microscopic picture of the inside of the ear. The image then can be transferred to a medical professional for diagnosis. The ultimate product, according to Tecco, will diagnose a "portfolio" of conditions, including other types of infection and possibly even cardiac conditions.
- Pipette: Physicians will use this smartphone-based product to provide reminders and prompts to keep patients compliant with their treatment regimens, Tecco says. For example, if a patient has a new regimen of diet, drugs and therapy, the physician can craft a series of texts, messages or questions about pain, mobility, drug compliance, and other topics.
The messages are automatically delivered according to the parameters the physician sets up, she explains. For example, with a CHF patient, the physician might include daily reminders about measuring their weight, and automatic questions each week about the patient's diet. Patients respond to the prompts, and the physician uses the information to determine if the patient needs follow up.
One interesting note: The company's founders originally targeted the technology for service companies like hotels and restaurants, to interact with customers during travel. Ultimately, they saw a greater opportunity in healthcare, and switched focus to physician/patient use, Tecco says.
- Skimble: This fitness app is the furthest along of all the mHealth candidates, and already has an offering in the iTunes app store. "It's doing quite well," Tecco says. The app is a relatively straightforward fitness product, providing personalized workouts and exercise guidance. One innovative item: It does offer some analytics that allow users to build on today's exercise or fitness data to craft future workouts, and ensure steady improvement. "We really wanted to make sure we had one fitness product in our portfolio," Tecco says.
Rock Health has been one of the most exciting news stories of 2011 in the digital health space and just this week announced its first class of start-ups, including three mHealth companies. Rock Health was co-founded by Harvard MBA student Halle Tecco, who has emerged as a rising thought leader in the intellectual battle to bring innovative digital health technology to consumers though her incubator's focus on attracting successful entrepreneurs to take risks in the under-appreciated Connected Care sector. I expect big things from these companies as their products mature and they graduate as the inaugural Rock Health class.