Healthcare technology enthusiasts spent this past Saturday August 23 at the HealthTech Ventures Conference sponsored by KIC Ventures and Dr. Kinglsey Chin, CEO of The Less Institute. The first keynote speaker was Dr. Chin he said there are two trends in Healthcare Technology that will change how providers treat patients, patient facing software and outpatient setting technology.
In any other industry patients can research the product or service they are about to purchase. Currently, patients rely on their physicians to refer them to the best specialists and give them the best treatments. Doctor rating website Health Grades has over 17 million unique visitors a month and WebMD has over 138 million hits per month which suggests patients want more information about their providers and their illnesses. Patients also want to own their own medical data. Right now providers and hospitals own patient’s EHRs and it is very hard to share this data between hospitals and providers.
The most expensive cost in healthcare is inpatient treatment, therefore the best way to lower healthcare costs is to move care delivery further away from the hospital. Technology needs to be created to allow for more outpatient surgery.
The second keynote speaker, David Frenkel, Chairman and CEO of the iHope Network focused on mental health services that utilize telehealth. The iHope network provides affordable evidence based psychotherapy using telemedicine and computer-guided therapists. Because patients do not have to meet the provider at their office or a hospital it is much easier to sustain compliance via telemedicine. 31 million Americans suffer from depression 2/3 of this population is either undiagnosed or not effectively treated. Medication is the go to treatment for depression even though CBT is more effective in treating depression, has half the reoccurrence rate and does not carry the black label warning that many SSRI’s do. Providers prescribe medication because therapy is costly, inconvenient and many insurance companies do not adequately cover mental health. Telemedicine has the possibility to make mental health services affordable for all; iHope charges patients just $52 dollars for a 30 minute session. They are able to provide CBT at a lower cost because they do not have the overhead cost for a physicans office and they utilize licensed social workers instead of costly physicians. The social workers are trained in computer guided therapy which is evidence based and optimized to create better outcomes. One a week patients are measured to track the progress of the treatment. Patients also receive sms messages to provide mood assessments in between treatment sessions. This quantitative information can then be provided to the patient’s primary care doctor so that they can be up to date on the patient’s progress.
Michael Drues, a biomedical engineer and consultant for the FDA, Health Canada and the CMS spoke next about commercializing disruptive med tech in an evolutionary world. He started out by outlining the difference between revolutionary and evolutionary technology. Most medical devices are evolutionary, meaning engineers make small tweaks to existing products to make the product a little better. However, as he stated “the light bulb did not come from the candle” and medical device companies need to start producing revolutionary technology instead of evolutionary technology. He said there are currently many disincentives for companies to do anything revolutionary, including regulation and reimbursement. The current medical device regulation standards such as 510k, PMA, de novo and HDE were all created to regulate devices made for the masses and not for personalized products such as a 3d printed prosthetic device. It is also much easier to get a new device on the market that fits into an existing reimbursement pathway and code from cms. He proposed large scale regulatory changes to ameliorate these disincentives. He said that regulations need to change to allow for personalized medicine for example allow for clinical trials of one patient. Currently the FDA is separated into three silos: foods, drugs and devices. Yet, many treatments can fall into two or more of the above categories such as stents that provide medication.
The last keynote speaker was Steven Locke of Harvard who presented on promoting disruptive innovation in healthcare technology. The rising healthcare cost of the US is unsustainable, if health costs continued to rise at this rate society could be destabilized based on healthcare disparity. He also spoke about mental health and its effect on society. Depression is one of the 10 leading causes of impairment and creates a 100 billion dollar loss in productivity each year. However only 7% of the NIH fund is used on behavioral health. Behavioral telehealth technologies could give many patients access to mental health services. However, current barriers to entry for behavioral telehealth technologies are regulatory and liability issues.
The conference ended with a “Shark Tank” like pitch off, the following are takeaways for presenting your health technology venture to investors provided from the feedback of panel judges.
- Put a face on the clinical problem and make it personal
- Simplify your presentation
- Need to present the key facts that investors want to hear which are the problem, the model, how to make money from the model and who is on your team
- Show that you already have the technology coded and that people are already using it
- Think about regulations, what the product does is not as important as what you say it does
- Talk about patient trials and adherence to using your product
- Investigate and present on current patents
- Show your product testing is validated scientifically
- You need to be clear about your ask and what you are looking for from investors and how they can help you (funding, office space, access to mentors ect.)