10 startups to know for 2016

Bright minds from a variety of backgrounds are teaming up across sectors to grow startup businesses. In healthcare, the stakes for these young companies are often higher and the challenges are more robust.

The number of startups operating within healthcare has exploded, growing 200 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to Fortune. Their funding increased by 125 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to Startup Health, a New York City-based accelerator. Some are backed by angel and seed investors, some are the products of high-profile incubators and others boast a more fledgling background. Tasked with creating solutions to problems that are complex and high-stake, these teams marry clinical, engineering and design expertise as they attempt to both carve out a niche in the industry and contribute to the greater good: Improving outcomes.

Here are 10 startups that have gotten off to a running start with big plans for the year ahead.

Everseat (Baltimore). The day of a medical appointment, any number of things can go wrong. It's not uncommon for traffic, weather and other hang-ups to get in the way of making it to an appointment on time, and life's curveballs often result in cancellations. Everseat offers a web- and mobile-based platform that aims to overcome these unexpected scheduling snafus. The ability to make appointments directly from a smartphone is a boon for both patients and providers, Andy Tarsy, senior vice president of strategy and business development, told Becker's Hospital Review in a November interview. Patients are empowered to find appointment times that work based on their availability and the locations and types of physicians they want to see. They are also notified in advance if there will be substantial wait times or delays. At the same time, physicians using the app are able to reduce scheduling "waste" and lost revenue opportunities. In October 2015, Everseat partnered with athenahealth's More Disruption Please program.

PatientPing (Boston). What if every time a patient stepped into any kind of facility seeking care, your organization received a notification, much like a you'd receive a text message or email? This is the future that Boston-based PatientPing wants to make a reality. The company is in the process of creating a national care coordination network that "pings" participating organizations in real time when patients they know are admitted or discharged. The "ping" includes care team contacts, patients' locations and access to critical guidelines. The PatientPing network currently includes facilities across Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Michigan. The company recently secured $9.6 million in a funding round led by Google Ventures and plans to use this capital to expand its employee base and services.

Nightingale Apps (Boston). Developer Nightingale has created and begun testing an app aimed at a sometimes-overlooked part of the care team, but one that has a huge impact on patient outcomes and satisfaction: Nurses. The Know My Patient app offers workflow-specific modules that give nurses and other frontline care workers up-to-date patient information, synced in real-time with a hospital's EHR. This frees them from having to return either to handwritten notes or a computer hub to look up information or answer questions. "All of our efforts made since the company's inception [in 2013] have prepared us to launch Know My Patient with testing partners in 2016 and subsequently grow our client base to create an impact in driving safer, more efficient and cost effective care," says Tiffany Kelley, PhD, the company's founder and CEO.

DispatchHealth (Denver). There are a number of startups vying for the much-buzzed "Uber for healthcare" title. DispatchHealth may be one to claim the name. DispatchHealth offers mobile, onsite treatment for simple and complex patients needs. Using its app, customers can summon a clinician to come administer care wherever they may be. The company boasts longer, cheaper visits with providers and shorter wait times than traditional visits. "Bringing the house call back with a modern twist was something we felt we had to do," Kevin Riddleberger, chief strategy officer and cofounder of DispatchHealth, told Becker's Hopsital Review in an October interview. Mr. Riddleberger says DispachHealth is positioned to address major industry pain points, such as the primary care physician shortage, millions of unnecessary 911 transports and potentially avoidable admissions.

Healthfinch (Madison, Wis.). Physicians increasingly spend time on computers and with EHRs. It only makes sense to try to safely automate as many time-sucking tasks as possible, and Healthfinch designed a solution for one of those processes: prescription refill requests. So far, more than 1,800 physicians use Healthfinch's software, and hospitals and practices report saving 15-30 minutes of physicians' time per day. Additionally, many have been able to redistribute the efforts of full-time RNs, whose tasks revolved around handling prescription refills. In a November interview with Becker's Hospital Review, Healthfinch CEO and cofounder Jonathan Baran hinted that the company has its eye on a number of other processes and workloads it hopes to improve via automated solutions.

HoneyInsured (Boston). It all started for HoneyInsured when cofounders Grace Gee and Eugene Wang, two Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard math undergraduates at the time, wrote about a troubling health insurance marketplace trend they'd come across in the journal Technology Science. The students found that rising premiums did not seem to correlate with increased consumer benefits, and between 2014 and 2015, the largest insurance companies in 34 states increased premiums by more than 75 percent compared to smaller insurers. Their solution is the HoneyInsured website, which integrates with HealthCare.gov's application program interface and acts as a "web broker," enabling consumers to order insurance like they would if they applied using the official federal exchange site. HoneyInsured aims to take the guesswork and confusion out of the process for the millions of consumers signing up for healthcare coverage through HealthCare.gov by intaking their information and making unique plan recommendations, offering data visualization and personalized options based on user input.

Hospital IQ (Newton, Mass.). As hospitals grapple to find the right tools for analyzing large amounts of data, the best solutions are likely those that work using the IT systems currently in place and data that's already on hand. Hospital IQ is one of those solutions. The company aims to bring an end to cluttered spreadsheets and overly technical data points by designing methods of data analysis stemming from accessible operations science. "The company's data-driven solutions apply proven operations research to systematically optimize capacity, schedules and staffing at hospitals," says Rich Krueger, founder, president and CEO of Hospital IQ. In 2015, the startup signed on customers like Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and now has active pilot programs at hospitals in California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee.

CrowdMed (San Francisco). Crowdsourcing a diagnosis may sound risky at first — unless the crowd you query is made up of physicians. Jared Heyman, founder and CEO of CrowdMed, found this to be true after his sister had the rare opportunity to meet with a large team of medical experts who helped solve a mystery condition that plagued her for years and cost more than $100,000. CrowdMed, which links patients whose conditions elude diagnosis with a team of medical detectives who seek answers from experts, was Mr. Heyman's idea to provide a similar opportunity for people wrestling with chronic mystery conditions who may not have the same opportunity his sister did. Through CrowdMed, patients submit their cases for a flat fee — $149 for a "standard" package, $249 for "premium" and $349 for "priority" — and receive their money back if the company can't deliver an accurate result. Experts earn points for cases they help solve, which translate to improved ranking, recognition and in some instances financial compensation. "Earlier this year we carried out a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for patients who can't afford a CrowdMed case," says CrowdMed founder and CEO, Jared Heyman. "Our goal is for every person in the world with an unsolved medical condition to have access to CrowdMed's services."

Zest Health (Chicago). Healthcare is always changing, and an increased drive toward patient engagement due to increasing consumer costs and higher expectations for quality care experiences might rally patients' concerns about their health, but it doesn't necessarily provide them with the tools to make informed decisions. Smart Concierge, an app-based solution designed by Zest Health, aims to provide patients with those tools. The app offers the expertise of RNs who are on demand to offer personalized guidance, allows users to find and book appointments with in-network providers and includes simplified benefits information. "We wanted to give folks the access, guidance and information they needed to be more intelligent healthcare consumers," Shawn Ellis, president of Zest Health, told Becker's Hospital Review in an October interview. "Hence where our motto comes from: 'Be Smarter, Buy Better.' Mr. Ellis views Smart Concierge as a "human-powered technology," which gives users the tools to better understand and take control of their care.

SmartScheduling (Boston). Not all hackathons produce winning ideas that blossom into successful startups. But in 2012, a hackathon hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology did just that. It was there that Chris Moses would overhear an exchange between two physicians that crystallized a problem many others wanted solved: Patient no-shows. He founded Smart Scheduling in 2012. The company, which he now heads as CEO, teamed up with athenahealth's More Disruption Please program quickly thereafter, raised over $1.1 million to date and established a network of more than 600 providers across 25 states who use its algorithms to better schedule patients. Remarkably, the company has done all this with just eight employees. "The biggest next step for us is that athenahealth is beginning to bundle Smart Scheduling into new customer implementations," Mr. Moses told Becker's Hospital Review in a November interview. "Certain providers will have [the platform] integrated into their EHR."

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