We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Aira has successfully raised $12 million to continue developing its smart glasses to help blind and low-vision people navigate the world via AI and remote human agents. “I am inspired by the passion that this accomplished group of investors has for our mission to further enhance quality of life for the blind and visually impaired community,” Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti said in a statement. “By working together we can remove remaining barriers for BVI individuals to live with greater autonomy and confidence.” Aira’s platform works on augmented reality glasses like Google Glass, where the glasses can stream what a blind or visually impaired person would see through a remote agent, who can then help them find things like navigation, readings signs or shopping.
Texas-based MAP Health Management, which works with a variety of healthcare stakeholders to offer a remote patient monitoring and engagement platform around addiction treatment, is bringing cognitive computing into the business by forming a new partnership with IBM Watson Health. MAP Health primarily seeks to fill gaps in treatment programs that can arise, such as a lack of standards in data collection or insufficient follow-up support after treatment. “IBM Watson Health and MAP have the potential to positively impact the tens of millions of people and families suffering from addiction in the United States,” IBM Watson Health VP of Partnerships and Solutions, Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, said in a statement. “IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology is a natural fit to further empower what MAP is doing to help improve qualitative and quantitative outcomes in the behavioural health and addiction treatment fields.”
DBS System, a Swiss company that makes portable blood tests called HermaXis, has raised $2.5 million led by Investiere. DBS stands for “dried blood spots”, and one aspect of the system uses microfluidic technology, which can deliver more reliable information compared to traditional dried blood-based sampling, making at-home testing easier. “The advantages of our technology are clear: the device can be used by anyone in a non-medical environment, blood samples are reliable, secured and standardized, logistics are simplified, and it fits within the existing workflow, all together resulting in significant cost savings for labs,” CEO Eric Ödman said in a statement. The funds raised are going towards the development of a second-generation device called HemaXis DP, which will be able to passively separate plasma from serum without the need for centrifugation or filtration.
Sunrise Health is a new start-up, aiming to improve mental healthcare by combining the constant support of a group chat, the openness afforded by anonymity, whilst guidance from professional therapists and the safeguard artificial intelligence watching for abuse and emergencies. Sunrise Health users can join moderator-led VoIP group phone calls to get an experience closer to an in-person meetup. From these in-between sessions, patients are able to chat anonymously in their support group 24/7, providing them with empathy so they never feel alone. “There is a huge gap right now between what clinicians in psychiatry are doing and what novel treatments are available through technology,” says co-founder Shrenik Jain.
A patient engagement and care coordination business, HealthLoop, based in Mountain View, California, has raised $8.4 million in a financing round as it continues to expand its business by increasing its sales and marketing teams. HealthLoop’s technology is designed to improve communication between physicians and patients and support post-hospitalisation follow-up care to track patients’ recovery. The company added new investors including iCarbonX DigitalLife Alliance, NextEquity, Lafayette General Hospital through its Health Innovation Fund. “Provider organizations need help,” CEO Todd Johnson said in a phone interview, confirming the new financing. “They have an impossible job of anticipating when their business models will shift from fee-for-service to value-based care and so many have a foot in each camp, it’s so hard for them to make decisions.”
The long wait for lab results to determine whether they stay in the hospital or go home is often the most difficult part of an emergency visit for patients. However, one way to reduce the waiting time may be to have emergency physicians receive lab results directly on their smartphones instead of via an electronic health record system, according to a recent study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. According to researchers, patients who came to the ER for chest pain spent 26 minutes less time waiting to be discharged when emergency physicians resulted the lab results via their smartphone. “For patients waiting for lab results, 26 minutes is significant, even if the smartphone process did not shorten overall length of stay significantly,” said study author Aikta Verma, M.D., of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, in an announcement. Verma said he believes that other results, such as radiology reports, vital signs and critical lab results, could also be pushed to smartphones.
Capsule, an app-based pharmacy service, has received $20 million in funding from a round led by Thrive Capital. The company is looking to differentiate itself from other virtual pharmacies like Blink Health and PillPack, however. “We are building the first holistic pharmacy system that works for everyone — the technology platform for consumers, doctors, hospitals, insurers, and manufacturers to exchange information about medication in real time feedback loops,” Capsule CEO and founder Eric Kinariwala wrote in a post on Medium. Accessed through an app, doctors are able to order directly through Capsule, where they deploy a delivery person to pick up the prescription and deliver it anywhere in New York City within two hours at no extra cost to the patient.
Chicago-based PreparedHealth, which makes a care coordination platform focused on aging-in-place populations, has raised $4 million in seed funding in a round led by Chicago Ventures. PreparedHeaalth, launched in January 2015, created an app called enTouch that works like a social network platform to connect caregivers, allowing them to share information on a patient to allow evidence-based care transitions. “The funding allows us to invest in R&D and enter five to seven markets that are really struggling with a rapidly aging population and find a way to bend the cost curve,” PreparedHealth CEO and cofounder Ashish Shah told Crain’s Chicago Business. Additionally, the company will use the new capital to hire more staff, which is currently 13 employees.