A Primer on the 10 Innovative Companies Taking the Stage at Health Wildcatters’ Pitch Day

Hubert Zajicek, Executive Director of Health Wildcatters. (Photo: Ben Garrett)
Hubert Zajicek, Executive Director of Health Wildcatters. (Photo: Ben Garrett)

Later today, 10 healthcare startups that have spent the last three months honing their message will take the stage at the Majestic Theater in the hopes of adding onto the $16 million that Health Wildcatters’ 32 current graduates have earned in their time outside the accelerator program.

In trading 8 percent equity, the companies, which beat out more than two dozen other applicants for the spot, get $30,000 and the 12-week incubator. This class of graduates—medical device companies, health tech firms, research, data analytics, to name a few—is Health Wildcatters’ most mature and diverse yet. And so D Healthcare Daily asked Hubert Zajicek, the co-founder and executive director, to step in and introduce each of them in his own words. Head here for more information about how to register.

“This group this year is pretty educated. And if there’s one thing you can’t fault them for, it’s that they are accomplished professionals,” he said. And with that, take it away, Hubert: 

Amity Cloud was started by an entrepreneur in Philadelphia, who has grown his own home health business. He’s built software to run his home health companies, both for operations and accountability. One of the biggest problems in home health is turnover; the time it takes to train people is significant. The other problem is people worry about what happens when the person is there and the care is being delivered. The home health agency owners worry about that, but the families often do, too. So there’s both hardware and software systems that checks people in and also trains caregivers, so they can quickly learn about what to do in the home. It can be specialty care for disabled people or traditional home health. The beauty is that he’s built his own home health agencies successfully and handed it over to others who run them with this software.

His two most important features are the ability to create this tracking of accountability within the home and he’s got some beacons that he positions throughout the home. When you set it up, they help with billing for Medicare and Medicaid. It’s becoming increasingly important that you evidenced that you actually delivered care along the way.

Friendly is run by a woman from Russia, who came and worked for DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for a few years and became a citizen. Her company is another twist on telehealth. You’re compressing a visit into something with a smart algorithm into a very short interaction between the patient and the software so you can deliver to the physician a quick summary of what’s going on and have him or her call them in for a visit. She has about 300 clinicians through five systems on-boarded with her system. She’s got on her plate about five times as many in pilots or lined up, so she’s about to go really big. Her competitors have just raised $5 million to $10 million rounds, but she’s picking up clients from them, because her software is better.

Endogenesis is what I’m most involved with this year. It’s run by a gentleman from Rochester. When you do a colonoscopy, think of it as a way to image a polyp or a specific area for colon cancer without taking a biopsy. For his device, it’s not developed yet; it’s still pretty early, but he can image and diagnose right there. it would only take about two minutes to diagnose or rule out cancer. When you take a biopsy you likely tear the gut and there’s all sorts of complications that come from that. It’s less complication, quicker procedures, and more accuracy. He’s raising the maximum $10 million to fully develop this and go for it.

The next one is KnKt’d, a behavioral health management tool. This person has worked for municipalities and behavioral health institutions for years. They’re seeing the case managers for these behavioral health patients have no idea who is in trouble and who is not. There are competitors out there, a few fairly well funded, in this space. But imagine having your dashboard and your user interface as well.. So someone who has got depression and they’re not responding – usually you’re calling by phone. But if you’ve got 40, 50, 60, more patients, how do you do that on a daily basis? How do you triage your patients? You need to know who’s happy and who needs help. This a problem they encounter every day. A single patient that goes into a downward spiral because of mental disease costs the system hundreds of thousands of dollars each. This guy has seen a single patient in Oregon cost the system $3.2 million. This is a kid, from age  12 to 18. This is incredible amount of money. He has four to seven customers right now in operation using his software and paying.

HealPal is based in Austin, but started by a former Harvard radiologist and researcher. He gave it all up to fund and start his peer to peer cancer support network. He jumped into a startup cold turkey and has 2,100 patients on his platform now. The matching here is meant to do the following: No. 1, cut through the clutter of information. If you get diagnosed with a disease you’re going to be researching to find information. But nobody cuts through the clutter. In his case, disease by disease, he serves up the most important piece of information. He writes the information, he distills it down. Then it allows people to connect with people who have the same disease and matches them smartly with 60 data points that he collects and uses. There are patients who are males with breast cancer, it would make no sense to pop them into a support group with a bunch of women. There’s no connectivity there. you want to talk to a guy who has had it. He’s done a few hundred matches already. One of the key features here is after he collects the information he can connect them with clinical trials. As aa principal investigator at Harvard, he knows how difficult it is to find participants. He understands that and he understands it’s very valuable for the patient.

Optologix is is our first startup with UT Southwestern’s intellectual property. The original inventor is a PhD from Mexico who built it in the lab at UT Southwestern with her principal investigator. Most basic science research uses some kind of expression technology. They manipulate proteins to see what happens. How do they respond to drugs? All sorts of things. The current technologies are very simple: There’s an on, off switch on these. When you put them in a cell, you put it in and wait for the cell to recover, then you flip the switch and wait for it to develop the protein. That switch is dependent upon an antibiotic. So people discovered you could abuse antibiotics as a switch. So they’ll pour antibiotics on their cell cultures and they observe later on what happens in their experiment. Needless to say when you pour an antibiotic on top of some substance, that will have its own effect. So there’s a whole movement to remove any kind of potential adulteration of the experiments. You don’t want anything that’s not controlled. A lot of experiments have been done in the presence of this antibiotic.

While it’s completely accepted in science right now, in some instances this a problem. Imagine you’re trying to test an antibiotic. You can’t have another one in there. She’s found that blue light can be the on switch instead of the antibiotic. She turns them on for a number of minutes and that activates the protein production. They were looking for ways to do it differently. You’d run into issues when you’re trying to test antibiotic or it was clear that what you’re doing is going to adulterate the experiment. There were some very clear scenarios that you just shouldn’t do it. Her version 1 is being used by 60 labs all over the world from the big names like Harvard all the way to Switzerland. She’s selling it already. It’s going to be used by biotech companies to aid in search and production and also by academic researchers who want to use a better technology. She’s on the market with a version 2. Version 1 was the beta.

Medibookr is a Priceline for imaging studies. You want to do an MRI? Even if you have insurance it may cost you a lot of money. You pay for it, and whether you’re self-pay or a high deductible plan, plenty of people would like to save money on the imaging services. Think of a cheaper center sitting there with a 3 p.m. slot tomorrow that’s not filled. This allows you to go online and find an imaging center that’s easy for you to get to and gets you a better price too. You can control for quality in the sense that the centers onboard can indicate whether they have the latest and greatest MRIs, they can get themselves, you can search for 3 Tesla magnet or 1.5; so you can drill down if you wanted to, but most people say I just need an MRI on my shoulder.

HealthNextGen’s founder developed a machine-learning AI disease prediction module for obscure diseases in neurology. It means allowing the best of care in situations where the provider may just see only a few cases a year; so you will have a very significant bias yourself if you are the physician. You just can’t know how to best treat these patients. This tool can help. And also in a chronic scenario it can predict crises and determine how long to intervene. He’s rolled this out in the largest European hospital in Berlin, and the reason that is significant is because this is something invaluable to any kind of system that’s like an ACO that owns and shares the risk with you. So a system that is already insuring you and delivering the care, which is the case in Europe, would like this at their disposal.

Clinical Solutions, if you are trying to get into a clinical trial and you go to website, good luck. It’s incredibly arduous. It’s almost horrific. As an individual you stand almost no chance of getting into the right trial. So what do they do? They go to the physician. Dr. Such and Such is well connected, he can get me into a trial. If you can make this a little bit more digestible, you can take the database and make it much easier for people to go through and sort through and put in your information to find the clinical trials to look at. Then it’a win-win for both sides. They know there’s a lot of money in matching you in the right clinical trials. There are many that never get finished because they can’t find the right patients. And it’s incredibly expensive.

And last but not least Oqulus, well, David Meadows is a serial entrepreneur and was director of research at Alcon. The eye is where he excels, naturally. So this one is having to do with taking the fundus exams and running them through his software. It’s basically to help in the identification of up to 60 diseases that can be diagnosed through the eye or identified. Most physicians wave it in front of your eye, and you can look and study the fungus and diagnose a ton of diseases through that. So ophthalmologists do it all the time, but there’s a limited number of those and a limited number of retina specialists. Wouldn’t it be nice for insurance companies to have these and flag a few people? it’s a lot more efficient than running them one by one. As a population health tool it is non-invasive, it is usually information already collected and they’re partnering with Inside Optix out of our last cohort; they were capturing the ophthalmologic image through primary care physicians and allowing primary care doctors to capture it. So the primary was capturing and sending it on to the ophthalmologist. So now they can capture it, send it on, and run it through the software for diagnosis as well.


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