In the wake of Amazon’s nearly one billion dollar acquisition of the online pharmacy, Pillpack a full-service pharmacy that delivers medication, there is little question about the impact that technology is having on healthcare. And while technology has been a key component of healthcare for decades, improvements in security and efficiency provided by platforms like PillPack only just scratch the surface of what is possible. In time, we may replace many of those pills altogether with tech-enabled healthcare solutions that are designed to change behavior in line with specific health outcomes. This emerging sub-sect of the health-tech industry has been coined digital health therapeutics.
Digital health therapeutics equips healthcare providers with a new way to provide patient care while accessing patient health information remotely and in real-time, while also empowering patients to take control of their own health. And with healthcare costs skyrocketing, the concept of both remote care and tech-enabled preventative measures are catching the eye of both individuals and companies. For companies, this amounts to reducing insurance costs and time lost at work due to illness. Companies that take proactive measures can create enormous ripple effects that impact the bottom line in a major way.
The founders of KORE, Celmatix and Maven Clinic each have diverse personal stories that pushed them to solve real-life problems, fuelling the launch of their digital health companies. Women have often been considered the caregivers of the household but when it comes to public and private healthcare men have historically been seen as the primary leaders (the very first female doctor earned her M.D. in 1849) – these three entrepreneurs are now redefining that narrative. These women recognize the importance in addressing healthcare issues – and are proving that healthcare of the future is scalable, effective and good business. Each of these companies are built on unique models but share one thing in common – their solution-oriented approaches to health through the use of technology.
KORE Digital Health Therapeutics
Healthcare costs related to digestive diseases have grown to more than $160 billion annually in North America. In Canada, this equates to upwards of $18 billion annually in healthcare expenditures and 18 million sick days of lost productivity for companies. KORE Digital Health Therapeutics, a Vancouver-based company founded by tech innovator and holistic nutritionist, Darlene Higbee Clarkin, is addressing this issue through online therapeutic programs designed to treat gut-related diseases.
The company offers a mobile-first platform that gives insurers, employers and healthcare providers the ability to implement programs that will reduce sick days and increase employees’ health. Clarkin’s inspiration for the development of KORE was brought on by her dad’s illness, Type two Diabetes, which cost him his leg – and ultimately his life. Realizing that more could have been done to help reduce the pain and prolong his life, Clarkin embarked on a journey to become a registered holistic nutritionist (RHN). Merging her love for technology with her RHN certification she developed KORE with the goal to empower people with actionable tools and information relating to gut health and nutrition. KORE enables users to effectively manage and monitor their symptoms while enabling them to better communicate with their healthcare providers – putting health back in their own hands.
Celmatix, founded in 2009 by Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim in New York City is a next-generation women’s health company leveraging big-data and genomics to improve fertility treatments and pave the way for proactive fertility management. American women are having so few babies these days that the fertility rate has hit a historic low, according to stunning provisional data just published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’ is getting more eerie. The number of births in the US dropped by 2 percent between 2016 and 2017, to 60.2 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, continuing a general downturn that started with the Great Recession of 2008.
Celmatix’s goal is to dramatically improve women’s chances of conceiving. Dr. Beim’s lightbulb moment came when she was completing her postdoctoral embryology research training. Her cohort, made up of successful and career-minded women who were making major life decisions around fertility based on age alone, inspired her to bring together personalized medicine and reproductive health to help women better balance their careers and family planning. The company’s technology-enabled products empower women with better data using genomics to help them improve their chances of conceiving.
80% of healthcare decisions are made by women and healthcare jobs from doctors to nurses to technicians are held by mostly women, despite this – the system is controlled almost entirely by men. The fact that a system run by women still lacks the proper resources and services to support women was a major motivator for Katherine Ryder to leave her career in Venture Capital and strike out on her own.
Ryder launched Maven Clinic in 2014 following a career as both an early stage investor and a journalist. She raised over $15 million in capital, funded by some of the hottest names in venture like Female Founders Fund, to fuel her vision. Today the company offers an on-demand network of over 1,000 family health providers that specialize in all areas. Maven Clinic offers takes a hybrid approach realizing that human-to-human connection remains vital in several aspects of healthcare. Their digital clinic empowers women and families with expert, convenient and compassionate healthcare on-demand and in a comfortable setting. With only about 10% of the U.S. population having ever used mobile Health Technologies as of 2014 there is massive room for growth and Ryder is well positioned to take that on.
The Vinetta Project is a high impact ecosystem and deal flow pipeline that accelerates founder’s growth and facilitates access to capital.