Monthly Archives: February 2013

Diagnostics For All: Simple and Low-Cost Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostics For All (DFA) is a nonprofit organization working on bringing healthcare to places with limited access to precise and affordable care. One of their main projects is to create cheap and convenient diagnostic tests using their patterned paper technology that only needs a drop of blood to give a result. This technology is essentially a piece of paper grooved with wells that are filled with assay reagents. As a drop of blood is placed on the paper, the assays change color to reflect the result of the test. About the size of a quarter and much cheaper than traditional tests, these point of care indicators are also lightweight and durable, easy to use, reliable and simple to manufacture.

Currently they are focused on making a test for liver damage, which is a known side effect from taking drugs given to tuberculosis and HIV patients. In poorer countries, these paper tests could replace having to use traditional labs and all the equipment, electricity and turnaround time that goes along with them. DFA is working on using their paper based tech to test for other diseases and has garnered support from large foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Event Summary: Rock Health Demo Day

Today at the Rock Health Demo Day, I watched as 14 bright and eager CEOs presented their start-ups to an audience of supporters, mentors, partners, journalists and potential investors. These 14 companies, now graduating from the Rock Health seed accelerator, are focused on tackling a range of issues, from making pregnancy healthier, safer and less costly (Wildflower Health), to making at-home fitness more accessible, affordable and personal (Wello). Stay tuned for upcoming interviews and deeper dives into many of these businesses, but for now, here are a few photos from tonight.

Top: Jacob Sattelmair – Wellframe, Kevin MacDonald – Kit Check, Leah Sparks – Wildflower Health

Bottom: Jason Langheier – Zipongo, Alex Frommeyer – Beam Technologies, Jack Challis – CliniCast

You can learn more about these companies at Rock Health San Francisco 2013 Portfolio.

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Interview: Dr. David Albert, AliveCor Founder and Chief Medical Officer

If I had to pick one word to describe Dr. David Albert, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at AliveCor, I would use passionate – passionate about improving the healthcare system and people’s lives. Having worked in the medical device industry for over 25 years and a serial entrepreneur, Dr. Albert has always been focused on improving the status quo, especially in medical technologies. As he recalls, “In 2008, I saw the smartphone as a major disruptive technology and immediately knew that it would soon become ubiquitous. Smartphones represented a platform where I could deliver affordable cardiac care.”

And so the AliveCor Heart Monitor, an iPhone case-like device was conceived. The company then executed so many clinical trials from top researchers and institutions to validate the device that it only took 75 days to get their 510(k) approval from the FDA – to put this in perspective, on average it usually takes almost twice as long for most devices to go from submission to clearance.

With 1,000 units already sold in the United States this month, AliveCor will soon start selling in Europe in the next 4-6 weeks. Doctors and patients can access the fully secure, HIPAA-compliant online web portal to view all ECG data. AliveCor is working on syncing this data to individual EMRs as well.

Dr. Albert views the device as an instant way for doctors to get status updates on heart health, emphasizing, “We’ve got to figure out how to do things less expensively but maintain if not improve the quality of care.” Just like using a stethoscope or looking into a patient’s mouth, doctors can use the Heart Monitor to do an instant health check and get reimbursed in the process. Doctors can also prescribe the Heart Monitor for their patients to purchase for home use and consistent long-term monitoring.

AliveCor also launched the Heart Monitor for veterinarians in August, and there are currently more than 2,000 units used by vets around the world, on any animal from domesticated pets to endangered species, to racetrack horses.

What can we look forward to in the future from AliveCor? The company is working on making the Heart Monitor available over-the-counter. After introducing the product in the EU, they look to approach more emerging markets. As Dr. Albert notes, “It is not clean water or electricity that is readily available throughout the world – it is cell phones,” and for doctors and clinics that can’t pay thousands for an EKG machine, the AliveCor Heart Monitor is a very good alternative. The company is also preparing to integrate the monitor in medical education and nursing education, to teach the next generation of health practitioners how to use the device.

Dr. Albert’s focus and AliveCor’s goal is to “deliver healthcare more efficiently, at a lower cost, yet still keeping people safe,” and they are off to a great start.

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Ness: Tailored Restaurant Recommendations For You

Part of being healthy is about acknowledging what you eat and battling the boredom of salads five nights a week with new choices of foods you like, customized to suit you.

Ness is a personal restaurant search platform that recommends restaurants tailored to your preferences and tastes. This smart app asks a few questions to gauge your likes (i.e. what type of cuisine do you like / dislike) and asks you to star rank a handful of restaurants you’ve been to. The more feedback you give to Ness regarding your preferences, the more tailored your results will be. Ness will then introduce new places within your cuisine preference and give each restaurant a percentage prediction of how much you’ll like it — and from what I’ve seen so far, these predictions are pretty spot on.

My favorite part of Ness is the usability – you can easily see other people’s reviews, all pertinent information about the restaurant, and the full menu. Additionally, you can book reservations directly on OpenTable.

It will be interesting to see which other industries Ness will introduce to their platform – I’m hoping gyms and fitness events are next!

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Everest: Share Dreams and Reach Goals

Everest is an application that helps users take a dream and work on turning it into a reality. The app focuses on three goals at a time and within each goal the user can plan steps, set reminders, record thoughts and upload photos. You can follow friends with similar goals or see what the Everest community has accomplished. The application is beautiful and after uploading a few steps, quotes and photos, it is easy to see how nicely the journey to achieving your goals can be captured all on one interface.

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Medication Management: 10 iPhone Apps

Medication management is a very important and relatively easy thing to do – if you have the right tools. asked me to share their top 10 iPhone apps for medication management. I’ve featured Pillboxie as one of my favorites, but here are some other great ones. To get their full list, visit 10 iPhone Apps to Help Manage Medications.

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Lift: Set, Reach and Share Healthy Goals

Lift is a mobile app that consolidates your goals, reminds you to reach them, and shares your successes with friends. The application is simple and easy to use, which makes adoption of the app quick and efficient. Getting simple reminders – stretch for 5 minutes at 3PM or clean the house for 15 minutes twice a week – works surprisingly well. For those looking to form some healthy habits, this is an easy way to get started.

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