George Eleftheriou, CEO at Feel.
Feel: A Digital Therapeutic Solution for Mental Health Feel developed by Sentio Solutions Inc. took part in the 34th Edition of the WT | Wearable Technologies and proudly won the “Top Public Award”. The disruptive start-up founded in 2015 impressed the wearable audiences and jury of the Innovation World Cup Series with the emotion-sensing wristband and app, that allows continuous monitoring and real-time personalized interventions for individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. Feel made a big leap to the Semi-finals of the 11th IoT/WT Innovation World Cup®, stand among the promising winners of the WellTech Challenge and top the Healthcare category. Check out their story of success and explore how mental health issues can be solved with Feel.
1. HOW DID THE JOURNEY BEGIN?
Back in 2015, the co-founders of Feel, George Eleftheriou and Haris Tsirbas, both struggled with their mental health. Depressive burnouts and panic attacks led them to start psychotherapy. Even though it was a good investment in themselves, they quickly realized that there are many flaws in the healthcare system.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and patients rely on outmoded forms of analysis to diagnose, evaluate, monitor, and intervene in the treatment process. Unlike all physical disorders that can be monitored e.g. measure glucose in the case of diabetes, there are no objective data and tools for mental health and no mental health support outside the therapist office. More than that, an appointment at the psychologist most of the times is expensive. Therefore, many people end up without getting help. And this is what they decided to change together.
2. WHAT ARE THE MOST MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR?
Feel has been awarded and recognized as “TransTech 200” in 2016, “Pioneers Athens”, “Insurance Shaper of the Year 2017”, MITEF Greece Startup Competition and “Top Public Vote” Award at the 2019 US WT | Wearable Technologies Conference. Moreover, we have closed our seed round and have raised a total amount of $1.8 million from Anthemis Exponential Ventures, SOSV, Make in LA and angel investors.
3. WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED IN YOUR JOURNEY?
We would say that stigma was a great challenge. We had prospective investors suggesting that we shouldn’t talk about personal experiences because it would hurt our chances of getting an investment or asking if we are still in psychotherapy to understand if we are “sane” or capable enough. The lack of objective metrics exacerbates this stigma, since mental health remains as something ineffable, something that cannot be quantified.
5. WHAT IS COMING IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
The development of biomarkers for management and evaluation of mental illness, indicators of relapse, mood swings, depressive episodes, panic attacks and more.
6. WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
We want to elevate the digital era, in which even though there is plethora of solutions, there is still subjectivity, self-diagnosis and stigma. We strive to bring to life the Augmented Mental Health era. Our next step is to begin deployments with major Health Plans and Employers in the US and Europe.
6. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE IOT/WT INNOVATION WORLD CUP®?
We are very excited to have won the “Top Public Vote” Award at the 34th WT | Wearable Technologies US. It shows that people really need such a solution. The Innovation World Cup® gave us the chance to spread our idea and vision to many more people. It was a great opportunity.
7. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THE FUTURE IOT HEROES COMING FROM THE INNOVATION WORLD CUP®?
Choose a cause that you really care about. And choose people who care as much as you do for the cause to make a team.
Understand how Feel Wristband works and acknowledge the power of technology in recognizing human emotions. Enhance individuals’ mental well-being and learn to obtain a fulfilled life.
Michael Acton Smith, CEO at Calm.
Just a few years ago, it might have been a bit of a challenge to convince investors that a mindfulness app would end up being a big business ― but thanks to an increasing focus on mental health from both startups and larger companies, companies like Calm are now capturing the excitement of investors.
From meditation sessions like you might find on other apps to tracks called “sleep stories” designed to help people get control of their sleep, Calm serves as a suite of content for users focusing on mental wellness. It’s one of an increasingly hot space centered around mental wellness and maintaining a sort of mindfulness in the hope that it’ll convert into a daily habit and help people just generally feel, well, more calm. The company says it has raised $27 million in a new financing round that values it at a $250 million pre-money led by Insight Venture Partners with Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures also participating. Before this, Calm raised around $1.5 million in seed funding.
“There’s definitely a bias toward the physical body in fitness,” co-founder Michael Acton Smith said. “For a long time there’s been a certain amount of embarrassment and shame talking about our own feelings. A lot of people are realizing that we’re all, at different times, going through tough times. I think that’s part of the culture we’ve grown up in. Everything’s been about improving the efficiency and improving the effectiveness and the external circumstances. We haven’t considered the internal circumstances the same way. The same thing isn’t true of Eastern philosophies. This crossover is just beginning to happen in a big way.”
Tamara Rajah - Live Better With. Around 15 million people in England are currently living with a long-term health condition.*
Yet when it comes to the resources available to make everyday life run smoothly – from sleeping better to getting out of the house and even maintaining your sex life – help seems to be limited.
It's this forgotten side of care that entrepreneur Tamara Rajah set out to overcome when she founded Live Better With, a revolutionary healthcare platform dedicated to improving the day to day life of people with long-term conditions, such as cancer, dementia and the menopause. It wasn't until Tamara witnessed her own grandparents' struggle with cancer relief that she realised how much more could be done to help
'The medical side of care is well taken care of in the UK and US,' says Tamara, who left her role as a healthcare specialist to establish the site in 2015.
'But what about coming home? In reality, people with long-term conditions like cancer and dementia spend around 95 per cent of their time adjusting to the symptoms of the condition or the side effects of treatment outside the medical setting.'
That's where Live Better With comes in, whether it's providing practical solutions like non-medical products - curated by recommendations and categorised intuitively by symptoms - or services, like help with getting travel insurance when all you need to do is get away.
Tamara adds: 'We're talking about people living with certain conditions for five, 10 or 20 years. There are hundreds of simple things that can make it easier, like relieving fatigue and pain or just breaking down those frustrating barriers that could mean the difference between being able to take your kids to school and get to the supermarket alone.
Live Better With is a revolutionary healthcare platform dedicated to remedies and support that can improve daily life with a range of long-term health conditions
'Sometimes these are the things we take for granted but often they are the little things that give us freedom and quality of life.'
Live Better With is also a safe space for users and their loved ones to read informative articles or guidance about the conditions, written by a community of people overcoming the same daily challenges.
In four short years, Live Better With has gone from providing support for just one condition, cancer, to two more, menopause and dementia, meaning Tamara and the team are well on their way to the long-term goal of providing a service for every long-term condition'Cancer is a condition where we knew we could make a big impact,' Tamara now says of their rapidly expanding network
Live Better With is a consolidated place to find practical solutions, whether it's non-medical products or services, as well as discussion forums and articles offering advice and information
'Cancer is a condition where we knew we could make a really helpful big impact,' Tamara now says of their rapidly expanding network.
'We've seen the community talking about this condition alone quickly grow to over 70,000 people.
'After that, we wanted to replicate the offering for a very different condition, the menopause, where we recognised a significant lack of support in the work place and a lack of guidance on improving everyday symptoms.
'While it doesn't always come with a traditional medical diagnosis, it's a condition that affects half the world's population at some point in their lives with side-effects that persist over a really long time.'
Most recently, the site has expanded even further to include Live Better With Dementia.
Tamara explains: 'It was important to us to provide support for a condition that focuses just as much on the carer as it does on the people living with it.
'Our articles and forums are a particularly important resource and outlet for the loved ones of people living with dementia and we hope that the products will make a huge difference to the ways families and carers can provide support.'
Live Better With now serves an incredible 2.4million users per year, across over 50 countries.
And so far, they have been able to provide 250,000 products to help people living with long-term conditions.
'Our articles and forums are a particularly important resource and outlet for the loved ones of people living with dementia,' Tamara explains
Tamara says: 'We set out to solve a problem for people with a long-term condition. Now, it's all about how many of those people we can bring that solution to.
'Our mission is to reach every single person living with a long-term condition, which means LiveBetterWith is dealing with more diverse and underserved conditions, as well as reaching deeper into the communities in countries where we already work’
'Ultimately, it's our communities that enrich our content and drive product curation, so the more people we can reach, the stronger the support we can provide.'
BECKY FREETH FOR MAILONLINE
Josh Stein, CEO at AdhereTech.
AdhereTech’s smart pill bottle platform improved adherence and patient satisfaction among a small sample of multiple myeloma patients, according to a paper in the November issue of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.
This data has been roughly four years in the making, and stands the company’s first-ever peer-reviewed publication of adherence efficacy, AdhereTech CEO and cofounder Josh Stein told MobiHealthNews while teasing an additional, larger study data publication and strategic partnership news coming within the next several months.
Among the 40 participants recruited for the single-blinded study, 16 patients from each arm completed their treatment cycle and were included for six-month analysis. Among these, researchers reported that median medication adherence was higher among those provided the smart pill bottle intervention (100% versus 87.4%; p = .001), with the lowest adherence rate within the intervention arm reported as 91.8%. Those using the platform rated their experience highly in a post-study phone survey, with all nine respondents giving the highest marks to questions involving the technology’s ease of use and setup.
The annual cost of the platform and a single pharmacist intervention came to $1,210 per patient, and when paired with the 12.6% adherence improvement represents a $96.03 incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) per percentage adherence. The researchers also noted a nonsignificant increase in the average number of lenalidomide therapy treatment cycles completed by the participants.
HOW IT WAS DONE
In the AdhereTech and Avella Specialty Pharmacy-supported study, researchers recruited adult multiple myeloma patients who were new to lenalidomide therapy within a single center. These patients were evenly randomized to receive either the intervention or a control.
This intervention primarily consisted of AdhereTech’s platform, a smart pill bottle that encourages adherence through light signals, audible chimes and text message reminders. The system also integrates with the pharmacy’s systems, and users a built-in cellular chip to highlight non-adherence in real time for the pharmacist. In the study, a pharmacist conducted a check-in with the patient if their weekly adherence dropped below 80%.
Researchers compared six-month adherence between these two groups, in addition to monitoring other outcomes such as ICER, patient satisfaction and treatment cycle completion.
THE LARGER TREND
AdhereTech and its smart pill bottles have been around since the earlier part of the decade, and just last year put together a growth equity round intended to support platform scaling and improvement.
The digital startup and some of its partners have previously put together white papers outlining treatment adherence and cost benefits among larger cohorts, and have more data in the pipeline for journal publication. In particular Stein highlighted another soon-to-be published peer review study that extends beyond the endpoints of patient adherence and experience.
“The really neat stuff is in addition to adherence, [the upcoming study] addresses other health outcomes for patients. What I mean by that is these medications and lifesaving medications, and they work really well. AdhereTech has lots of published data showing that we improve adherence and patient experience … for these patients, but what this next study shows is, additionally, the improved adherence on these lifesaving meds translates into set outcomes.”
Stein also took the time to tease new strategic announcements for the company set for announcement in the coming weeks.
“Based on ICER findings, there is an opportunity for a value-based contracting model with an [smart pill bottle] program to lower health care costs,” the researchers wrote. “While the study population was small, we postulate that other disease states with oral medication therapy requiring tight dosing windows (e.g., transplant immunosuppressants, opioids or novel oral anticoagulants), complicated dosing regimens or those with low adherence rates may benefit from [smart pill bottle] and pharmacist-targeted intervention programs.”
Accenture has named 11 companies as finalists for the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, which brings together leading-edge startups with prominent health companies to tackle some of North America’s greatest health challenges.
Attracting more than 2,200 startup applicants in its first three years, the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge supports innovative approaches and solutions for improving the way people access, manage and finance healthcare in North America.
“This annual HealthTech Challenge creates an exciting opportunity to connect healthcare incumbents with emerging businesses to drive health system evolution focused on improving the lives of consumers and clinicians by enhancing access, affordability, quality and experience,” said Brian Kalis, managing director of digital health and innovation services at Accenture. “We are all looking forward to the final round and awards ceremony on February 6, 2020 in Houston when the finalists will present to an exclusive panel of healthcare executive judges.”
Among the innovative solutions being developed by this year’s finalists is a digital coaching program that uses evidence-based methodology to monitor and motivate people working through drug addiction, as well as a solution that harnesses social determinants of health (SDoH), economic, behavioral and environmental information to help payer and provider organizations achieve profitable growth while optimizing healthcare delivery and outcomes.
The finalists were selected by a panel of leading executives from some of the world’s largest health companies during regional events held recently at Accenture’s Innovation Hubs in Boston and San Francisco. The finalists are:
Already, there are high expectations for 2020. The start of this next decade will see the election of a new president in the United States, the expiration of the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union, the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission, and undoubtedly many significant advances in the healthcare space.
Before we look ahead, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on 2019. This year saw notable disruptions in the healthcare industry–many of which were spurred by companies outside the healthcare space.
Here are a few of healthcare’s biggest moments of 2019:
Amazon Launches Healthcare Clinic
One of the biggest tech players expanding its footprint in healthcare is Amazon. This year, Amazon launched Amazon Care, a pilot healthcare service for its employees in the Seattle, Washington area that offers in-person services and a virtual primary care clinic. With the tagline, “Healthcare built around you,” the service aims to provide personalized health services and improve access to care for its employees. The initiative grew out of Haven, Amazon’s joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan which was announced in 2018 as an effort to reduce healthcare costs without compromising quality.
Related: Amazon Launches Medical Transcription Service
Some industry experts speculate that the service is a way for Amazon to test healthcare products in its own clinics; others believe it is a way for them to explore new market opportunities in population health management. Both may be accurate. Amazon has already invested significantly in this project, having recently acquired the company Health Navigator whose services will be rolled into the Amazon Care offering.
In addition to Amazon Care, the company began rolling out its PillPack pharmacy service to Amazon Prime members in 2019. The service provides free home delivery of prescription medicines; the only cost is the user’s co-pay. Amazon reportedly has another healthcare product in the works as well: Alexa wireless earbuds that integrate with a fitness tracker. Look for more to come on this development in the year ahead.
Apple Unveils ECG-enabled Watch
Apple’s annual new product announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the tech calendar year, and 2019 did not disappoint. Usually the announcement by Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the company’s latest smartphone, but this year a new Apple Watch took the spotlight, with the company touting the device’s ability to detect irregular heart rhythms and other health issues. The watch is the first consumer wearable with a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor–software that was cleared by the FDA. By holding a finger on the device, users with the new Apple Watch can access a feature to identify atrial fibrillation, a common form of an irregular heart rhythm. The watch’s ECG app will notify users if it detects an irregular rhythm.
It is important to note the Apple Watch’s new tool has limited capabilities. It will not help detect most heart rhythm abnormalities or worsening heart failure and will not reliably detect the electronic changes associated with a heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack or any other serious medical condition, always call 911.
The new Apple Watch also contains a feature targeted at the elderly; those 65 and older. A built-in tool recognizes when a user falls and automatically notifies their emergency contact. Experts describe the device as a “game-changer” that can potentially make patient monitoring easier and more regular.
Google Acquires Healthcare Wearables Pioneer
Google also made significant headway in healthcare this year, most notably with its announcement to acquire Fitbit. With Google’s resources and global network, the acquisition is expected to accelerate the company’s innovation in healthcare wearables. Through collaborations with academic medical centers and pharmaceutical companies, FitBit has been studying applications that may potentially enable the device to detect atrial fibrillation, assess sleep quality, and track menstrual cycles among other health applications. The deal, valued at $2.1 billion, equips Google with a device to more directly compete with the Apple Watch’s healthcare capabilities. The FitBit acquisition is expected to close in 2020, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.
We can expect the momentum seen from Amazon, Apple, and Google in 2019 to increase in 2020 as these companies and others seek to further integrate digital technologies in healthcare offerings. With growing industry focus on personalized care and tech disruptors continuing to make waves in the market, the next decade promises to bring a new age of innovation in healthcare. The ‘Big 3’ of tech may very well soon become some of the biggest players in the healthcare space.
Amit Phull, Medical Director and VP of Strategy and Insights at Doximity
With 2020 just around the corner, and value-based care steadily encroaching upon fee for service, the omnipresence of digital health technology can't be ignored as the industry remains laser focused on enhancing healthcare delivery even as it reduces costs. Health technology's increasingly wide adoption brings with it vast opportunities for providers looking to harness it and for patients who find themselves no longer observing as much as participating in their own care as partners.
The broad umbrella of health technology covers categories including mobile health, robotics, wearables, remote monitoring, 3D printing, electronic health records, big data, virtual and augmented reality, telemedicine, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Just as Philips' Future Health Index 2019 proclaimed, evolution and developments in digital health technology really can help pave the way to achieving the Quadruple Aim—usually defined as enhancing the patient experience, improving health outcomes, lowering the cost of care, and improving the work life of care providers. Sounds like a win-win all around.
Managed Healthcare Executive® spoke to three health technology leaders about what they're doing and why they do it in their respective industry categories and gleaned their advice on how to profitably embrace this disruptor now and during the next evolving decade.
Telemedicine: Answer this technology's call
"We do what we do because every life matters," says Joel Barthelemy, CEO of GlobalMed, a telemedicine company in Scottsdale, Arizona. He says the company powers the world’s largest, most advanced virtual health programs by designing and manufacturing integrated software and hardware telemedicine solutions that support a patient at any point in the continuum of care, and at any place, because that's what the marketplace demands.
To hear him describe it, telemedicine has come a long way from humble beginnings in the late '60s. Now, telemedicine's goal is to make primary care available right when patients need it.
"The population isn't going to wait long when we can do so much with technology," he says, forecasting that even better evidence will be attained more quickly without attachment to wires.
By nature, telemedicine has to be everywhere. "That means in Haiti, on Air Force One, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, at overseas military bases, at Johns Hopkins Medicine, or at [Veterans Affairs] locations everywhere," he says. To that end, the company has developed a simple dashboard that integrates and aggregates relevant information—and not just from vitals machines. It includes cameras, and not just video conferencing, as well as precision general instruments that capture images from a patient exam.
With more than 15 million virtual visits, and more than $100 million invested in research and development (R&D), GlobalMed's goal is virtual care "touch points" across the continuum for patients from early-stage symptoms to end-of-life hospice care. "It's the only platform capable of consolidating disparate systems with the integration of hospitals, homes, and clinical locations," he says.
Healthcare is moving away from solely symptoms-based diagnoses, to those with rich data behind them and augmented intelligence, says Barthelemy. Smart health technology executives should always be looking to invest in areas such as AI, as well as dental telemedicine, service lines, and vital signs systems that don't need connectivity, and in technology opportunities in pain management and opioid and substance abuse solutions. GlobalMed, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, most recently acquired TreatMD and ORCAS.
Technology is here to stay, so welcome it with open arms and be flexible, Barthelemy suggests. "This healthcare system will collapse due to high costs if we keep doing things the same way expecting different outcomes," he says.
The Internet of Things (IoT): Something big is happening here
The IoT is considered a system of interrelated computing devices. The advantages of hospitals and health systems using that kind of connectivity technology for better outcomes are huge, but security still has to be intact, says CEO and co-founder Jonathan Langer of Medigate, a medical device security firm, with locations in Tel Aviv, Israel, New York and San Diego, considered an IoT trailblazer, with main bases in Tel Aviv and New York.
"Executives know that part of 'taking care' of patients means ensuring there's no risk posed to them anywhere, and that poses a great challenge," he says. It also means protecting every clinical network from cyberattacks.
According to HealthITSecurity, as of July 2019, more than 25 million patient records were breached, most due to third-party vendors and phishing attacks against well-known companies such as Quest Diagnostics and American Medical Collection Agency.
Managing medical devices demands the highest levels of complexity while being connected to networks, along with more sophisticated equipment, more specialized maintenance, more challenging vulnerability tracking and remediation, and heightened compliance and safety requirements, he says.
Covering the bases, says Langer, means "looking for deviations in patterns from a simple network-level message like, 'Hey, computer, I'm on the network,' to patients' health data needing to get from company A to company B."
So executives must consider the wide array of devices inside and outside of the hospital: radiation machines, blue code meters, patient monitors, security cameras, and infusion pumps.
"It's not just one central computer," says Langer. "A cyberattacker can not only steal medical records but also place ransomware and find a really good network route to do more damage."
In spite of inherent risks, he's a big proponent of data networking overall. "If we're to harness the true power of data analysis, we can provide better care, better doctors' decisions, and faster diagnoses, and make it all more affordable. Using telemedicine for home health—especially in rural areas—is also very promising."
To effectively and safely use all the options technology presents also means cybersecurity is definitely here to stay.
AI: Be smart about this technology
Just like its name implies, AI can facilitate behaviors associated with human intelligence. As president of Acorn AI by Medidata (a Dassault Systèmes company) and the executive vice president of AI and digital solutions for Medidata, which helps life science companies and academic researchers accelerate value, minimize risk, and optimize outcomes, Sastry Chilukuri leads the charge to analyze clinical trial data in real time and deliver actionable insights to life science clients conducting trials—and there are plenty of those.
It's a father–son kind of organizational structure, since Medidata has provided data management and technology platform capabilities to R&D organizations in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years.
"We have access to more than 18,000 clinical trials involving 5.2 million patients," says Chilukuri. "As we start to use this data, we can build AI solutions on top of it that can make data 'liquid' across the entire lifecycle and answer the most important questions." That's definitely a plus.
He believes four major categories can fundamentally change the trajectory of a company entering 2020, and executives might want to keep these top of mind:
Chilukuri envisions health technology offering up much earlier disease detection with targeted AI algorithms powering diagnoses, along with smartly tailored treatments for precision medicine, and filling the need for the right body of evidence to drive reimbursement for value.
At the rate technology is advancing, innovation will continue to be the name of the game, and this is clearly no time to get left behind.
Stephanie Stephens, MA, is a journalist, producer, and host in Orange County, California.