Harvard Health Publications

Rock Health startups offer a look at the future of medicine

Posted By Patrick J. Skerrett On August 27, 2012

This summer, Harvard Health Publications hosted a group of mobile health startup companies, all part of the first Rock Health Boston class. I had the pleasure of attending their end-of-program demonstrations. It was 1) fun and 2) inspiring to see the future of medicine as told by young, savvy, energetic teams.

All seven startups have similar goals—using the Web or apps to provide faster, better access to health care and to identify health issues before they become huge problems.

Speaking before a standing-room-only crowd of potential investors, reviewers, and friends at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, the companies made polished pitches that had come a long way from those they offered upon their arrival at Harvard Health Publications in June.

Guest speaker Dr. John Halamka kicked off the presentations with news that two key federal panels had established new standards that will allow vetted third-party companies—like those in the Rock Heath class—to connect to electronic health records.

Rock Boston

Here’s a brief look at the presentations from the Rock Health class (in alphabetic order).

Home Team Therapy aims to help people do necessary physical therapy at home. A subscriber will be able to watch online videos of his or her exercises. A physical therapist can also watch the person do his or her exercise at home and offer instruction and feedback.

NeuMitra helps people identify what is stressing them out, and nip that stress in the bud, using a wearable device that measures the body’s automatic physiologic response to stress. When detected, the app would offer real time stress alerts that can “talk you down.”

NeuroTrack has developed a reading test that identifies otherwise invisible early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The test would initially help drug companies identify candidates for testing drugs that may slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. If such drugs are ever developed, NeuroTrack could then identify people who would benefit from taking them.

People with acne often have to wait months to get an appointment with a dermatologist. NoviMedicine will connect them immediately with online doctors who can diagnose their condition and prescribe treatment for it.

Foot sores are a leading cause of amputation among people with diabetes. Because people with diabetes have nerve damage, they often cannot feel a sore that is developing on the underside of their feet. Using a bath mat that automatically scans the bottom of a person’s feet, looks for early sores and sends a warning sign to both the person and their doctor, Podimetrics will identify foot sores while they are small and treatable.

Reify Health has created a text messaging system that can be used to send people health alerts that can help them control diabetes, weight, asthma, and other chronic conditions. The system can also be used by researchers who want to determine the effectiveness of mobile health interventions.

Depression adds thousands of dollars to the cost of treating and managing a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes. RxApps aims to reduce that cost with customized text message prompts, targeted information, a smart coach, and peer-to-peer support networks.

You can see some of the Rock Health Boston presentations here.

Related Information: Harvard Health Letter

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