Health 2.0 Review - Smoke, Fires, and Companies to Watch

I'm breaking this review into two parts - the larger, more symbolic and conceptual overview (which will follow this post) and my list of companies (and teams) to watch (posted here).

For those of you I wanted to meet at Health 2.0 last week, my apologies.

I was quite literally running for three days straight and had little time onsite to powwow with friends and colleagues, old and new. It's not that I don't love you anymore - it is quite literally that Maarten den Braber and I (with a PHENOMENAL corps of volunteers - I can't name you all here but I will in a future post - again, THANK YOU) were putting out one fire after another for 72 consecutive hours.

That left very little opportunity for rational, critical, or creative thought, much less sparkling conversation, until the smoke cleared.

It has.

What's left behind is a warm, loose feeling, the kind you get after sitting a bit too close to the campfire, where your limbs are lax but the skin of your cheeks is bright and red and tight but somehow renewed.

This slightly toasted feeling is accompanied by a bit of an ashy taste at the roof of my mouth, and the smell of smoke lingering inside my nostrils, as with the last show - which reminds me how quickly fires both spread and flame out.

I'll share why there is room for both optimism and fear following Health 2.0 in my longer conceptual post, but can't resist some preaching from the pulpit here.

For lack of a more graceful way to put it - we're looking at this all a#$ backwards.

Two of my twitter comments sum up what I'm feeling:

1. really tired of co's selling consumers health data. Give it to us in a way that makes data useful to US and we'll pay to use the platform.

2. Health 2.0 is building the add-ons without a realistic, strong, user-friendly platform. We're the mushrooms. Where's the tree trunk?

We're building killer apps that are springing forth from fertile VC and ad revenue soil like mushrooms and other nutrient, dark-loving fungi.

But where's the tree trunk they can all grow on?

Instead of where's the beef, we should be asking ourselves where's the platform (or platforms)? I have yet to see a realistic platform-based approach similiar to Apple's iPhone development stance in HIT that provides grafting opportunities for many of the disparite apps shown last week in San Francisco.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is doing the closest thing, but even they are still trying to save the Holy Health Record, rather than looking to professionals who want user-oriented, consumer/patient/human-to-human healthcare to survive and thrive.

In short: eHealth and HIT is the next newspaper industry.

Get ready for a sob story that's spun within an inch of its life as a rebirth. You'll hear it from hospitals. You'll hear it from the US government, who's now looking at really scary things like HR 6898.

We're at the point in healthcare IT where it's innovate or die, or, worse yet, innovate and get to market, pronto, or be legislated out of the US market.

Every. Single. Company. Dealing. With. eHealth, telehealth, mHealth, HIT, PHRs, PHAs, EHRs, EMRs. MUST pay attention to where this legislation is going NOW.

We've got probably 3 years until HR 6898, or something like it, passes.

You better have a govt. affairs person on your team. You better vet some lobbyists who are friendly with Starck and Pelosi NOW. Kennedy's staffers for health are frequent speakers at industry events. I'm just saying. Good place to start.

Mark my words. Congress will grasp onto 'saving' healthcare with tech via legislation like HEITA as a morsel to toss to the increasingly restive American public.

They can't fix a war, they can't fix the economy, but they can 'fix' healthcare by legislating national EMRs that your doctor controls, you betcha!


In that time, if we don't, as an industry, get out an effective, efficient, affordable consumer-facing health platform (or 20, and we're talking platforms that are quantum leaps above Google Health and HealthVault, no offense Goog and MS) we're done.

We'll all be contractors and any new tech will have to pass through the bowels of CMS before going to 'market' (imbue heavy skepticism here).

Preaching over, for now. But pay attention all. This is one of those posts where I'll look back 2 years from now and wish I'd had a larger megaphone to shout "Iceberg ahead."

Now quickly back to the business at hand.

There are many experiences doing demo rehearsal for the breakout panels (I didn't have the privilege of rehearsing with the vast majority of mainstage speakers, except for a few on the Privacy and International Panels), that I can't share. Professional and personal ethics prevent me from saying "this guy is an a*&hole," or "this company is all smoke and mirrors."

What I'll do instead is give a few of my favorites.

If you're interested in the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding Health 2.0, I highly recommend you set Google alerts for Health 2.0 and various iterations (Health 2.0 Conference, etc).

Here's my personal list of companies and teams that are close to becoming killer apps in their own right, especially if connected to a larger, more cohesive platform (the tree trunk) that enables 3 touch consumer access.

I'm not going to do long, lengthy reviews of what they showed onstage - for many of them I saw multiple demo rounds. Here's the deal - I'll pass along the companies. If they're of interest, check them out. Follow up. Do some digging.

To presenters: If I didn't include you after 7 rounds of demos, it doesn't mean I don't think you have great tech, an awesome team, a smart business model, or a nifty logo. It just means for some reason you didn't *QUITE* make my personal Best in Show. This is an opinion-based, not evidence-based review.

Out of more than 80 companies with whom I demoed, these guys stood out as the complete (or near complete) package. Biz model, team, design, functionality, real-world utility/relevance. Some are lacking in some areas and stunning in others - as noted.

My reviews also have nothing whatsoever to do with what the parent organization (Health 2.0 LLC) or the organizers of the conference (Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya) think of you. I don't claim to speak for them in any capacity.

This is brief analysis for free. I don't hold paid positions with any of the companies below. Any other involvement is disclosed in full. I love doing this in more detail. If you want more, get in touch.

Without further ado, Health 2.0 "User-Generated Health" Best in Show (in no particular order):

1. HealthLibrarian. User interface, bad. Search capabilities, goooood. One to watch. These guys are brilliant and need a user-design friendly developer to slap some nice facepaint on this one. However, they do the backend design work for other companies/associations/clients, so pretty is as pretty does here.

2. Voxiva. International track record for mobile health applications that drive clinical results. Call CEO Paul and ask him to tell you about Mexico and Rwanda. Awesome. Lessons to be learned here abound.

3. ZumeLife. A pager for health, essentially, with the Zuri. Disclosure: I am a beta tester of the Zuri. This is an unpaid gig. I like HIT toys and ZumeLife has been kind enough to connect me with one that daily monitors metrics I want to track. More on this later, but this kind of tech is up and coming. See also FitBit.

4. iMedix. The app, meh. Decent. The semantic search tech behind it - whoa. If you watch their demo you'll learn all you need to know to understand why semantic search is vital for the next generation of health 2.0 applications and networks. I won't go into gory details, but this team is patient, hard-working, and cuts through crap with a knife (including mine) to get things done under pressure. Ask to see the movie...Also watch the team. These guys are repeat entrepreneurs with sharp smarts and a great tech development team. Consider the package deal. A note on international Health 2.0 - watch the Netherlands for patient movements, innovation, and adoption of EHRs, but watch Israel's Silicon Valley for pure development power. Also irish eyes are smilin'. Check in with Enda Madden to learn about fascinating developments on the Emerald Isle.

5. ADAMs Health Navigator. For the iPhone. Drool. If you have an iPhone, it gets five out of five "buy it now what the hell are you waiting for" stars.

6. Rise of the Caregiver Sites: Careflash.com is looking like the pretty cousin of the poor relation it showed last show. Great updates, better UI, and really useful calendar function. Disclosure: I am considering an advisory board position (unpaid) with Careflash. Newcomer (to Health 2.0 Conferences anyway) ENURGI (pronounced energy) one to watch. Social network blah but searching for, corresponding with, and paying caregiver online is, finally, an app that makes sense and is useful TODAY in real-life scenarios that have highly relevant health meaning. CEO one to watch with deep experience in her industry, wit, and verve. Anyone who can rock a demo after a domestic comestible crisis rocks hardcore.

7. Change:Healthcare. Team. Rockin. Financial tools for managing and comparing healthcare expenses regionally is brilliant. Decision support, I likes it. A bit of design tweaking to come I hope, but this has potential to be online banking for health. A bit schizophrenic at the moment with where they want to go, and there are many roads yet to be considered. As with Organized Wisdom, another great team (sometimes these three swooping through the aisles remind me of the male Charlies Angels) with solid primary product and many miles to go before they sleep. Here's a cautionary note: Expand where it makes sense. Where can I print and share and take your recipe cards for health? Who are logical partners? Don't be Starbucks. Don't carry the puffy, bland, terrible tasting breakfast sandwiches. Stick to brewing great coffee before brand and identity dilution kills you. Are you the tree trunk or a mushroom? Disclosure: The Organized Wisdom crew gifted me with a great kelly green Organized Wisdom tee. I'm not worthy.

8. American Well. If they overcome issues with rollout in island paradise test case Hawaii look for even bigger things. One issue - where is their physician outreach program? How will they induce/incite docs to log on to the system and choose patients with whom they'd like to work? Nice setup with BCBS of Hawaii because docs they'll use are docs in network, who are compensated for using the system. Brilliant play within existing payor structure. See tons of work on other areas (visible in demo, Deep Dive), this portion of strategy not well illuminated. May be intentional knowing these guys, who have been go big or go home from the beginning. Repeat team with proven exits.

9. Disaboom. Pick for social networking site worth a damn. Seriously. Take a look. Amen to this being THE ONLY company who's paid attention to regulations for making websites accessible to those with hearing/visual impairments. Does what a social network does when it's working right - becomes integral part of daily life and ads value, connection, empathic support. Team rocks.

10. MyPacs.Net. YouTube of radiology. Awesome. Practical applications with expansion potential like whoa. Acquired by McKesson. Follow the founder.

11. Ozmosis.com. Social networking for docs. Invite only. Credentials checked. Team composed of practicing physicians, who MAINTAIN clinical practice. Plus 20. Functionality blows Sermo out of the water. And these guys tweet, thank the heavens.

12. EmphasisSearch. Navigating murky waters of specialist referral at academic medical centers, tertiary care centers. You're dxd with a zebra. Your PCP has no clue where to send you. Enter EmphasisSearch. Again, another service that isn't 'sexy' in terms of design but far more vital solves a REAL, current need. Another potential acquisition target.

13. FitBrains. Several faves on the Gaming for Health panel, moderated with verve (and interesting door prizes) by Doug Goldstein. This one's better than Scrabble or Yahoo!Chess. An online gaming site for the brain gain company with multiple games, ways to compete against coworkers, etc. And yes, I've, ahem, spent some time checking it out. Games based on five 'major muscle groups' for the brain designed around in-depth neuro-clinical studies. Surface AND substance - warms my heart. Warning - may be more addictive than Fantasy Football in group settings. Exec points here too. Michael, will you partner with AARP already?

14. Special Prize: HopeLab. This is a do good works, game well company. Disclosure: I participated in HopeLab's RuckusNation Challenge last year (online judge of plans submitted) - volunteer, unpaid activity. ReMission, a game HopeLab developed for kids with cancer distributed FREE and based on an amazing depth of medical and behavioral research, is THE ONLY APP I downloaded and continued to use at will when it was no longer strictly necessary for demo purposes. Being Roxy, the nanobot who zaps cancer, is quite simply addictive. As is the sense of victory that comes with 'adhering' to therapy and using chemo to outwit those nasty blobs of unruly cell growth. Get a presentation from Richard Tate, who, other presenters take note - ACTUALLY GAMED FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE while concurrently navigating his demo. Well worth your time.

15. HealthTalker. Fascinating model for social networking, activities, learning, activism that is condition centric, paid for by sponsors. Participants get sweet kit in the mail. Design-oriented and fantastically marketed; thank God for someone that gets the importance of UI. One to watch. Doing some VERY neat things. Acquisition target perhaps...

16. Limeade. CEO is a force of vertical nature at work. Henry could sell you a pet rock and make you feel shiny and happy laying out cash for the purchase. Employer wellness programs are nothing new, but employee-centric, fun, elegantly designed, and intensely private programs are. This company is begging for partnerships with innovative firms like Safeway (yeah, the grocery chain). Can't take plan with you if you change employers - YET. But feels trustworthy, like they're one of the only players in the space looking out for my interests a la regulations governing employer use of employee wellness info. I'd pay to get, pay to transfer, carry with me along my Brownian career path (thanks Carlos Rizo) like I do with my 401k vendor. Keep an eye out. This is a big mushroom that would only benefit from a Sequoia sized tree trunk.

17. Hello Health/Myca. Jay Parkinson was off rockin' the audience at Pop!Tech, but Doc Sean Khozin was onsite doing what he does best, caring for patients (myself included after some tachycardia on the morning of day II - scary but inconsequential - thank you Sean, send me a bill!) and talking about the platform Myca has built that lets him do that. Key words: caring, lets, platform. What it's all about people. Size, scalability, future competition in the space are biggest issues here, but oh, yes, keep watching.

18. MedicalPlexus. Design, UI icky but neat FaceBook for doc groups. Team is young, well-educated. Sermo group fools if they don't buy this company and these guys while they're still accessible. Ozmosis team take a look too.

19. KwikMed. "Only" for a lot of online pharmacy stuff, including licensed to prescribe online (betcha didn't know that was out there, did ya? Join the club). Ask founder/CEO to tell you the story of how and why he started company. Hint: It involves the little blue pill. Again, exec team huge plus. Got their stuff together. Going after existing market. If I was Target or Safeway I'd buy them, roll them in, become part of 2 prong strategy including onsite minute/retail clinic partner.

18. Plus3Network. The fitness user's friend. Huge growth potential with Outside-reading, urban-biking, occasional 5k running crowd. Right now more 'serious' fitness users (triathletes, people who bike to work, etc) than weekend warriors, but an awesome site with a do-good be-well model. Can organize group activities, see what other people around the world are setting up (great to set up, say, international health group meeting to be conducted during a bike tour of The Netherlands...rubbing chin....). You choose a corporate sponsor, work towards nifty prizes, and help them raise funds. Awesome model. Talk to the CEO. Great guy, got his head on straight.

19. ZocDoc.com. 3M in funding from Khosla Ventures. Former McKinsey team that picks their people carefully. Wore orange scrubs at previous demo gig. Verve for presenting, and substantive bedrock of kick-ass, specialist doc and dentist booking software beneath it all. Wish they'd been on mainstage. They need to expand outside the Big Apple, and Ted Eytan we better hope they pick DC next. Put it this way. If they called, and I was on the other line with someone, I'd hang up to talk to them. Pronto.

20. QTrait. Opposites attract, genetic profile dating. Craziness. Actually some nifty genetic stuff (a la carte genotyping?) I'll probably buy this year, or ask to receive for Christmas. Founder bench strength and background like whoa. One to watch. Best of breed for consumer-friendly design. Others take note. Lose the circa 1999 interfaces. Probably will be all over press/media this year. If you're interested in the genetics stuff (and with Sarah Palin's assertion this week about pet projects like 'fruit fly testing in Paris France, I kid you not!' being a waste of funds, you should be) - take a look that the discussion on this beta tester's blog: http://bustermcleod.livejournal.com/196345.html.

21. PrivateAccess: Most complete trial platform I've seen. Helps take what is a VERY acutely subjective phase of healthcare decision making for consumer and provider and put it into objective steps, easy to follow and understand terminology. Team worked like dervishes to pull this off in time and is drum tight. A top 5 must-follow for next year.

22. USPreventiveMedicine. Wellness and disease management platform. Bigger, sexier, better designed DM. For a 'Health 2.0 company' really deep founder, exec team, and advisory board strength. Also tiptoeing towards policy recs and advocacy.

There are also plenty of companies I wish had been represented onstage, but I didn't have ultimate veto power to choose 'em, I just rehearses 'em.

These include Sugarstats and CureTogether, Polka.com (which appeared at the Launch breakout) among others.

More importantly, notable audience segments that many tweets (myself included) think would be valuable to include at the next show (or any other of its kind):
  • medical librarians
  • medical educators
  • med students
  • nurses (of all stripes -starting with you NurseDan)
  • other provider segments (PAs, NPs, etc)
  • 'academics'
  • practicing physicians
  • hospital execs
  • medical writers/journalists (academic and 'popular')
  • patients

By the way...a healthy forest is made of many tree trunks of various diameters.

There's plenty of room here for multiple platforms to pave the way. But someone's gotta go first. We need a spark before the bonfire can really get going.


Anonymous said...

Very useful reading--thanks! I was at Health 2.0 and strongly agree with you here on Private Access, "A top 5 must-follow for next year." It really is something new and needed. I think it will make a real mark financially and be looked back upon in a few years as as huge advance for science.

I also agree with you that HealthLibrarian is good technology with a blah interface. They just need to work on the latter.

And I definitely agree with you that medical librarians should attend the next Health 2.0. So should nurse informeticians and those in research administration and health information management.

Thanks for the great overview!

Hope Leman

Termeh said...

Thanks for the fantastic roundup Jen. Very useful!!

Alexandra Carmichael said...

Hi Jen,
Thank you for all your hard work putting on a fantastic conference!! And thanks for the honorable mention of CureTogether in your list of companies to watch. :)

I'm very interested to hear/read more about your ideas for a unifying platform that can bring all these disparate apps together. After seeing soo many demos, your perspective on the industry would be one to listen to.

Best, Alexandra
Alexandra Carmichael
Co-Founder, CureTogether

Justin Seibert said...

@Jen - This is an awesome list! Thank you not just for putting it together, but for commenting on each, too.

HealthTalker said...

Hi Jen

Thanks so much for the "Best in Show" selection for HealthTalker! I really appreciate the positive feedback on what we are doing, and look forward to keeping you posted on our success.

Thanks, too, for the great job you did in organizing the conference demos. It was an excellent 2 days, and you should feel very proud of what you helped accomplish!

Keep up the great work!

Andy Levitt

kirsti said...

Jen- this list is just another reminder to make sure I get to the conference next year. I really appreciated your review here, as well as the comments.... I have been dreaming of a hellohealth out west here for what seems forever and Zocdoc seems to be sending some strong signals as well.... kudos to all those doing such good work and especially to you!

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