Cognitive games to diagnose attention deficit disorder; “vidscriptions” that save time for doctors and engage patients; supply chain software that reduces costs and improves outcome tracking. These and three other healthcare startup ventures were featured at the first-ever Healthcare.mn Demo Conference on September 7, at the TreeHouse Health in Minneapolis. More than 150 attendees joined panels of executives, entrepreneurs and venture capital “judges” for the half-day conference that showcased the Twin Cities as a health tech innovation hotspot.
Nina Hale, Inc. works with a number of healthcare companies in the Twin Cities, so NHI’s Data Scientist Lizzy Wilkins and I attended the event to learn more about the future of health tech in our community. I was also particularly interested in hearing how these exciting new ventures generate interest in their products and services, and how they promote themselves online via website and social media.
From a search perspective, it was fascinating to listen to panelists talk about how patients and healthcare practitioners use online resources to find information about medical conditions and healthcare technology. “As a consumer, who is your trusted source of information?” asked one panelist, stating the need for content to be screened for accuracy. John Brownlee, CEO of clear.md, described his company’s offering as an alternative to “Dr. Google”. The clear.md technology enables physicians to create short, single topic videos (featuring the physicians themselves) about specific medical conditions or treatment recommendations. Locally, University of Minnesota Physicians and North Memorial Healthcare are just two organizations using clear.md technology.
Also related to search, another panelist observed that it was often quicker to find white papers and highly-technical information on Google than via PubMed, a repository of biomedical literature from MEDLINE, scientific journals and online books.
The event was filled to capacity – a testament to the vibrant health tech environment in Minnesota. Healthcare.mn estimates that the Twin Cities is home to more than 60 health tech startups, and the event spotlighted six of the “most promising early stage ventures in Minnesota,” including Corcardia Group, eVeritas, Zipnosis, clear.md, CogCubed, HomeStream and perkhealth.
A panel of Minnesota executives from Mayo Clinic, Hennepin County Medical Center, United Health Group and Redbrick Health shared their thoughts about the balance between innovation in healthcare and the need to maintain focus on healthcare’s primary goal – healing the sick.
The panel spoke to the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) such as increased access to service for many, more consistent care over the continuum of care, opportunities for increased self-management by patients and participation as part of their own care team, and opportunities for more efficient management of specific “populations” such as diabetes patients.
Healthcare technology is generating increased interest from angel investors and venture capital firms, and the second panel of the day included VC professionals from a number of firms and organizations. The panel talked about barriers to entry for innovative new products, and the types of projects that are more likely to be funded. They indicated that Silicon Valley actually looks to Minnesota for VC investment opportunities.
For me, the event was a comprehensive look at the local health tech community – from an intellectual property perspective, to the funding required to get a startup off the ground, and finally, to the organizations and individuals who have the capacity to put these innovative new products into place and make them available to those who need care.
Healthcare coverage is top of mind for many Minnesotans as the Affordable Care Act launches locally on October 1. Our agency will present a special BUZZ event about the online conversation around affordable care, and how providers are using search and social to engage new customers. Look for more information on our website, or sign up for our newsletter (the sign up form is located in the upper left of this page).