Merriam-Webster defines the Internet of Things as the networking capability that allows information to be sent to and received from objects and devices using the Internet. As healthcare becomes more and more digitized, connected devices are becoming better integrated into daily clinical practice. Robbie Greenglass, an investor at Waterline Ventures who focuses on early stage health tech ventures, says “the ability to connect to and gather data from patients is critical to advancing how we develop new therapies and treat chronic illnesses. We expect this connectivity as consumers, and now IoT is revolutionizing how we deliver care.”
Nonetheless, Dr. Joe Kvedar, author of The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan (2017) and The Internet of Healthy Things (2015), vice president of Connected Health at Partners HealthCare and keynote speaker at the Boston Connected Patient Challenge, thinks that incorporating the Internet of Things into healthcare has a long way to go before these devices are fully normalized and personalized at the patient care level. During his speech he expanded on the burnout feeling doctors experience because the demand for doctors far outweighs the supply.
He said, “when [the patient] has an ailment, all we offer is ‘come and see me in the office one to one.’ If we can use the Internet of Things, all these tools start to create a one to many care model, and we can impact this curve. You will feel better cared for because… your doctor wants to be involved in every single decision, so she will be able to take care of more people at once.” That’s the future we have to get to, and I’m excited.”
John Silva, a health technology investor at 3BL Holdings and Board Director at Vigitas, a healthcare IOT business, agrees with Kvedar’s sentiment that more customized engagement with IoT can have a huge impact on clinical practice: “I have seen in several fields that I have invested in that IoT technology can, if you customize the hardware for the patient, multiply patient engagement. This provides valuable information for family, and healthcare providers.”
Here are the top 4 digital health startups using the Internet of Things to improve healthcare:
Medisafe is a Boston-based startup that raised a $14.5m Series B announced on March 1, 2017. Their technology on iOS and Android includes a cloud-synced platform that helps patients keep track of their medications. It’s personalized and family can see if users are on schedule with their different medications. Users also have custom notifications for appointments and refills, medication updates, personalized health recommendations, and discounts. The technology also tracks progress with blood pressure measurements and glucose levels. 75,000 users have rated the app an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.
Edward Kliphuis, the investment director of New Businesses at M Ventures which is an investor in Medisafe says, “When we pursue an investment in the technology-enabled healthcare space, quantifiable improvements in patient outcomes are key for us. In the case of Medisafe, there was early data showing that the solution impacts adherence in patients. Adherence leads to more effective treatment regimens and ultimately improves patient outcomes. This, combined with sustained engagement of the Medisafe solution which leads to unique first-party data, unlocks the path to monetization through entities with a financial interest in the health-economic model, such as pharma companies, public and commercial payers, etc. Medisafe is pursuing this path very effectively.”
Omri Shor, The Founder, President, and CEO of Medisafe says “IoT is poised to bring along a patient engagement and support revolution by lowering barriers. Medisafe is the leading medication adherence platform and no stranger to the importance of personalizing the med management experience. We’ve taken steps to integrate with IoT devices such as connected pill caps and wearables, and are exploring voice activated assistant integrations which we’ll be demonstrating soon.”
RapidSOS is a New York based startup that raised a $14 million Series A announced on April 25, 2017. The technology partners with IoT companies and local communities to connect a direct data link from any connected device to first responders to expedite aid in emergencies. Their technology connects using internet in automobiles, home security, wearables, and mobile applications to predict and preempt emergencies. It’s able to send a precise location, voice, multimedia, medical data, demographic data, real time health data, vehicle telematics, emergency data, and more.Based on analysis done with researchers at Harvard and MIT, the results of this technology are 1-5+ min faster response, a 2-10% reduced mortality rate, and a 6.9% reduction in healthcare treatment costs.
CEO Michael Martin says, “RapidSOS’ Emergency Platform serves as middleware between connected devices and first responders. We receive data from millions of connected devices (wearables, home security systems, smartphones, connected cars, etc.). In a medical emergency for example, medical data from a health wearable device can be sent directly to public safety — not just to 911 call-takers but out to the responders in the field too. The result is faster response and improved emergency outcomes.”
Aira is a California based startup that raised a $12 million Series B announced on May 16, 2017. The startup uses IoT technologies like miniaturized sensors and augmented reality glasses, to help enhance the everyday experience of blind and visually impaired people. Using auditory perception as well as a smartphone connection, the platform gives a wholly realistic interaction with the physical world. The wearable technology pairs with AT&T’s vast network to give access and connectivity anywhere. Everyday tasks like exploring new neighborhoods, attending social events, securing a job and more are thereby made much easier for visually impaired individuals.
Graftworx is a California based startup that raised a $10.8 million series A announced on December 22, 2017. Their slogan, Graftworx is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of the Body” aptly describes how their medical devices connect anatomy to easily accessible data points for clinicians. Their technology uses real-time remote monitoring through wearables and implants that transfer clinical data from cloud-based software from the devices to EHR systems via a mobile application to monitor cardiovascular patients. The IoT technology stores and analyzes data generated in the devices. The technology is preventative in that it allows identification of patients with cardiovascular risk, effectively reducing costs and readmission rates.
Header Photo: Dr. Joe Kvedar at the Boston Scientific Connected Patient Challenge
Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.
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