Entries Written By J. Michael Bennett, MD
It’s that time of year again! The TMCx accelerator at the Texas Medical Center received over 200 applications for the incoming device cohort and 19 companies made the cut. This year’s class included a number of native Houston companies in addition to applicants from Boston, San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Madison, Australia, and Canada. Over 300 attendees including physicians, advisors, investors, and entrepreneurs showed up in full force to support innovation at the Texas Medical Center Experts Forum.
All of the companies pitched novel solutions to problems within the healthcare sector. However there were ten companies that I believe addressed markets and trends in healthcare that stood out among the rest. This is my brief overview of the 10 best.
Orphidia has created a portable single blood drop diagnostic platform providing lab quality test results in 20 minutes utilizing microfluidic technology. 40 common lab tests can be provided using one chip. This portable device can provide an instant revenue stream for physician practices and taps into a potential 78 billion dollar marketplace. Currently seeking funding.
Polyvascular specializes in polymeric transcatheter valves for children with congenital heart disease. These valves are easy to make, non-immunogenic, and expands with the growth of the child. The valves are placed utilizing a minimally invasive technique reducing the need for open heart surgery in children. Currently they are in the preclinical stage and the valves have been successful in animal studies.
iSono is making accessible, at-home breast health monitoring utilizing 3D ultrasound and artificial intelligence. Benefits include a portable, non-irradiating, 2 minute scan with the sensitivity for detecting lesions similar to ultrasound. FDA clearance and a pilot study is expected next year. This is a 30 billion dollar market and the company is currently raising a seed round.
Bitome has developed a micro-magnetic MRI based diagnostic tool for non-invasive monitoring of the human hydration state particularly in those individuals with congestive heart or kidney failure. The portable device takes a three second read from the finger. The company is currently seeking seed funding.
Resthetics has created a patent protected device that converts waste anesthesia into a safe renewable resource that can be refurbished and sold to the original manufacturer at a fraction of the development cost. Currently seeking funding.
The Canadian team of Vena Medical has developed a thin 1.3 French fiber optic camera that can provide real-time visibility through blood making vascular procedures faster, easier, and safer with less exposure to complications and unnecessary irradiation.
NanoEar is a minimally invasive, micro-implantable hearing aid that allows discreet, continuous use without the need for batteries. The company is positioned to disrupt the market by utilizing Direct Tympanic Modulation. The first prototype is expected in September. The company is currently seeking funding in their seed round.
MouthLab from Multisensor Diagnostics is a patent-protected portable device that measures multiple vitals signs by mouth (breath and saliva) in less than a minute. AI systems are then utilized to track changes or identify abnormalities. 400 million in potential revenue. The company is currently raising a $1.5 million seed round.
With its genesis in TMC, Alleviant Medical is building a minimally-invasive transcatheter technology to treat congestive heart failure. It works by decompressing an overloaded left atrium through creating a shunt between the two atria. This is a $5 billion market. The company is currently conducting animal studies and expecting FDA clearance in 2019. They are raising a $1.5 million seed round.
Hailing from the Fannin Innovation Studio, Guidabot is an MRI-compatible robotic system that precisely targets areas of the brain with sub millimeter accuracy during minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures. Expecting FDA approval in 2020 and currently patent protected. Currently seeking funding.
This concludes my breakdown of the top ten, and I commend all 19 companies for accepting the TMCx challenge. I look forward to hearing from many of them as we begin the cohort. I also encourage all healthcare providers, investors, and entrepreneurs interested in this space to spend some time at the TMCx, attend the pitch event, get involved and become an advisor. Make sure to sign up for a free membership on the angelMD platform to gain access to the latest and greatest deals in this marketplace.
“The internist has the stethoscope, but the orthopedist has the hammer.” This is a medical mantra heard throughout many medical training institutions.
As funny as it may sound, it is true, within an orthopedic surgeon’s DNA lies the ability to build things or put things back together. It should come as no surprise that when something is broken, we want to fix it. This may be why we see a large number of orthopedic surgeon entrepreneurs and developers in the innovation space.
A Decade of Orthopedic Innovation
There have been many reasons for orthopedic innovation over the past 10 years, but none has driven the orthopedic surgeon more than the desire to be less invasive with a quicker return to function. This has led to dramatic improvements in technique and pain control allowing same day partial and total joint arthroplasty which is likely to become the norm within the next five years.
The incorporation of adductor nerve blocks combined with pericapsular anesthetic infiltration has allowed faster mobility and better pain control after total knee arthroplasty, permitting many patients to go home that same day. This particular advancement has saved hospitals and payers countless dollars and produces better patient outcomes, decreasing a 7 to 10-day hospital stay to a same-day discharge or at most a 23-hour stay.
The drive towards minimally invasive procedures has also heralded the movement towards minimally invasive diagnostics. In-office ultrasound for diagnostic and interventional purposes has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.
During that period of time, ultrasound technology has improved so much that a cordless office device that connects to an iPad now costs half of what a larger fixed unit would cost and provides a clearer picture that can actually show blood flow or a healing response at a tissue repair site or a broken bone.
These portable devices can be used in the office, on the sidelines, or in the emergency room making it very convenient for orthopedic surgeons to make a quick diagnosis without an MRI (essentially saving the patient and the payers money and time). Many surgeons now implement the use of ultrasound in addition to the use of biologics for tissue healing and regeneration.
Another big advancement came in the field of biologics. In 2012, Drs. Grudon and Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for demonstrating that mature adult cells can be reprogrammed into immature pluripotent stem cells.
It is only a matter of time before these cells can be manipulated into progenitor cells of the central nervous system or articular cartilage possibly reversing or improving the effects of spinal cord injury and osteoarthritis. These progenitor cells could be used to augment tissue repair sites in ACL and rotator cuff surgery or used to create a biologic scaffold for tissue ingrowth in meniscus repair or cartilage growth.
The Future of Orthopedics
3D printing is another technology that is being tested in orthopedic surgery for its potential in custom joint replacement surgery, custom patient specific fracture fixation, or cartilage and bone transplant. 3D printing in conjunction with biologic scaffolding will eventually lead to a revolutionary biologic joint replacement option in the near future.
There has also been a great interest in the use of robotics in orthopedic surgery, creating more accurate implant placement by customizing the configured bone cuts that are made during surgery. Like many of these other technologies, we are still in the data-collection phase regarding this specific technology regarding the economics. However, early results have shown favorable outcomes and more accurate implant placement.
The flurry of new technologies are exciting and very promising, however the biggest challenge we currently face is the adoption of many of these technologies by the payers. Innovation and insurance coverage almost have an inverse relationship so even though there may be a cost savings and better outcomes in the long run, many payers will not likely cover these treatment options for another 10-15 years.
The future of orthopedic surgery and innovation is promising but patient demand and physician involvement/entrepreneurship will be needed to drive many of these products to market therefore it is key that physicians get involved and continue to advance innovation on behalf of their patients.
Find out about companies making exciting innovations at angelMD.
A few days ago McNair Hall at Rice University was buzzing with anticipation and energy as many of the entrepreneurs scurried about putting the final touches on their presentations getting ready for the elevator pitch event. Every year contestants from across the globe merge together for this special event that crowns one winner with a cash prize and connections worth over a million dollars. Now the hallways are empty and the grand prize has been earned by Forest Devices, a startup company with a novel technology that allows medics, ambulatory personnel, and physicians to screen for stroke quickly and efficiently.
The Rice Business Plan Competition has become one of the most sought-after competitions within the startup world. This year 42 companies competed, with a staggering 21 of these companies within the healthcare market.
As a healthcare provider and entrepreneur I wanted to highlight ten niche-specific companies that I found great potential in tackling a specific problem within healthcare.
A minimally invasive percutaneously placed device that allows cardiologists to create a pressure relief shunt between the atria to provide continuous and dynamic decompression. The problem addressed is heart failure with the advantage of not using stents or anticoagulants. Animal studies with two design firms to finalize product development are upcoming.
Helping healthcare providers customize the right treatment for each patient by utilizing Artifical Intelligence-derived algorithms.
RBPC 2017 winner. Creators of AlphaStroke, the first portable device that screens for stroke across all point-of-care environments and can be used by all medical personnel. See above.
Creators of a small molecule therapeutic (Nivien) that defeats several resistance mechanisms at once. Pre-clinical data predicts Nivien could double the survival rate of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients. Currently working on IND status with the FDA.
A novel US patented non-invasive intraocular pressure monitoring system within a contact lens. Helps identify patients with undiagnosed glaucoma. Finalizing the prototype ahead of FDA approval.
Innovative load bearing magnesium implants that are biologically absorbed instead of having to be removed after the bone has healed. Currently preparing for FDA approval. Regulatory approved for first and second product in Europe.
A tissue engineered scaffold that enables patients to regenerate, with their own cells, an innervated nipple with natural pigmentation and projection after mastectomy. Completing animal studies with human studies to follow.
An add-on device that will reduce Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs) by continuously killing harmful bacteria using light systems. Currently working on prototyping, testing, and FDA approval.
A remote wound monitoring system that wirelessly sends vital signs (pH levels, bacteria presence, bleeding, infection, etc) to remote medical staff and doctors to provide early signs of infection/ ulceration/ bleeding in real-time. Clinical trials and regulatory approval underway.
An integrated smartphone platform where field workers can acquire patient or environmental samples, detect the disease using proprietary algorithms, and report results in real time with geo-tagged data. The technology provides rapid results allowing quicker reactive responses to outbreaks and early disease detection. Currently undergoing field testing with cholera and malaria testing platforms.
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J. Michael Bennett, MD
Regional Medical Director, angelMD
TMCx had another stellar turnout for the recent TMC Expert Forum highlighting their Spring 2017 class of 23 digital health startups.
Artificial Intelligence and outcomes tracking are a theme for many of these companies. All of the startups were impressive and have potential. However, I want to focus on those companies with proof of concept, marketability, scalability, and potential for investment.
- Lantern: a personalized mobile program that combines daily interactive lessons and professional coaching to strengthen emotional well-being. This company has proof of concept with a 40% reduction in symptoms such as stress/anxiety/eating disorders, high engagement with patients, and costs 1/10th of traditional therapies. They are currently implemented at more than 40 leading university employers and shown lower health claims and costs associated with co-morbid chronic conditions, disability, and employee absenteeism.
- WardMM.com: a decision supports analytics engine that provides evidence-based prescribing recommendations. Using a proprietary bio-builder algorithm that can clinically predict whether specific medications will affect outcomes before actually administering the medication to the patient. As the leading clinical service in Australia, this company has seen a 400% growth in revenue over the past 4 years.
- Medable: provides a fast path to secure HIPAA compliant healthcare applications/outcomes for researchers, startups, pharma, payers, and academia. As medicine continues towards an outcomes-focused approach, more payers will want outcomes based data from physicians to validate medical treatment. Proof of concept reveals a cost savings of 22% and a 90% participation rate/engagement from subjects. Overall <1% use mobile applications for conducting studies which provides better data acquisition and efficiency.
- Babyscripts: utilizing remote monitoring to better identify high-risk pregnancies determining the need for early intervention. Currently working with 10 health care systems. Proof of concept revealed a 10-fold increase in data collections which has led to fewer NICU admissions and early diagnosis of preeclampsia.
- NeuroLex: a voice analysis platform to detect health conditions before advanced symptoms appear. Utilizes over 200 measures within the voice to create a new biomarker for early detection of Parkinsons, Alzheimers, psychosis, and depression.
- SensorRx: a patient-centered application to improve outcomes for migraine sufferers. Data is collected and analyzed from sensors on the smartphone. A 6-month clinical trial revealed 90% utilization and 50% improvement in symptoms.
- DOT: EEG monitoring with a low-profile wearable device providing biofeedback for the diagnosis and treatment of neurobehavioral disorders such as ADHD.
- Personify Care: mobile platform enabling clinical teams to monitor patient recovery beyond the hospital stay. Helps identify complications or patients that need immediate follow up and can provide necessary protocols via smartphone. Proof of concept done and currently utilized in Australia.
- Arterys: automated, artificial intelligent software that uses real world clinical data to make radiologic imaging more accurate and data driven. One of the only FDA-cleared cloud database platforms. Proof of concept done with 41 active sites and 10,000 patients scanned.
These are a few of the companies that met the initial set of criteria. However, there were 14 other companies that were just as competitive but did not meet all of the pre-established criteria for our angelMD highlights. We look forward to many more companies to feature in our future blogs.
Stay tuned for follow up and investment opportunities in select companies as we approach Summer.
(Note: If your company is mentioned and you don’t yet have a profile created on angelMD then take 20 minutes and get it done. www.angelmd.co)
“Invest in what you know”…words of advice that echo throughout the lounges and hallways of many surgery centers and hospitals. Not only can I provide input toward my own subspecialty but I can also rely on stratified input from other physicians within different subspecialties. “Crowd wisdom” nicely translates into what I would like to call “evidence-based investment.”
Physicians have the opportunity to direct the future of healthcare startups by providing much needed insight and guidance towards clinical and product development. At one time only a select few physicians were allowed this opportunity within an academic setting or through direct employment of medical industry.
angelMD is turning this paradigm upside down. This medical “crowd wisdom” platform has created a level playing field amongst all physicians leading to the “democratization” of technological and medical development. It’s the perfect platform combining physician input with outcomes based algorithms to create an edge in the investment process. The participation of physicians also means the network is equally helpful post investment.
Now that we have the vehicle for advising and investing, what lies ahead in medical investments is even more exciting. Forbes predicts that there will be four technologies that will dominate the health care startup scene over the next three years. These are just predictions but they are interesting to consider:
- Artificial Intelligence which has a predicted CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 42% to reach $6.6 billion in 2021. Healthcare AI is the software that allows computers and machines to algorithmically review medical literature and knowledge to improve patient outcomes and provide evidence based medical solutions efficiently. By 2025, it is predicted that AI will be utilized in 90% of the U.S. and 60% of the global hospitals and insurance companies. The AI systems will be able to provide complicated diagnoses and treatment plans within a matter of minutes. AI will also be used for medical image analysis and also to encourage and create more patient engagement solutions such as medication adherence.
- Immunotherapies and checkpoint inhibitors with a predicted CAGR of 139%. The market for check point inhibitors was valued at $3 billion in 2015 and it is anticipated to reach $21.1 billion by 2020.
- Liquid Biopsy gives physicians the ability to monitor tumors non-invasively. Blood biomarkers like ctDNA and CTCs have allowed the potential to track and monitor tumors in a non-invasive manner. This technology has also been shown to detect the worsening of a disease condition even before a CT scan.
- 3D Printing will be a game-changer for organ transplant or tissue repair. Healthcare will continue to shift towards a consumer-based model with emphasis on “patient specific medicine” or customization. The customization of tissue has tremendous potential and can dramatically reduce surgery time by removing organ harvest time and decreasing medical expenses. Surgical grafts will be generated from these 3D printed biological scaffolds. The healthcare 3D printing business is expected to be worth $6 billion by 2025.
The ever changing landscape of healthcare has made it more difficult for many physicians to navigate through over the past decade. Government mandates and red tape have pushed many physicians out of the decision making process changing the practice of medicine as they once knew it to something almost unrecognizable. angelMD gives physicians a front row seat in the future of healthcare and encourages physician input to help direct new innovation in the healthcare marketplace. I encourage every physician who is still passionate about the practice of medicine and healthcare innovation to become a member and take part as we disrupt healthcare on all fronts!