Thursday, August 18, 2016

Digital Health Startups: How IT (and IP) Entrepreneurs Are Redefining Health care

From virtual care platforms and digital therapies to wearable health devices and precision medicine, digital health startups are creating innovative products designed to change the face of health care. 

As these startups are increasingly seen as opportunities to help reduce costs and increase process efficiencies and revenues for consumers, health care practitioners, and service providers, hospitals and medical institutions are shifting from partnerships with academic institutions to investing in and partnering with tech startups. A couple of examples:

  • Children’s Medical Center in Dallas is one of the first children’s organizations to adopt a new digital health pill created by Proteus Digital Health, a Silicon Valley-based startup. It also acquired interest in another health startup called Mend, which provides a service that delivers high-quality, on-demand urgent medical care to your doorstep.
  • Boston Children’s Hospital, which has teamed up with startup accelerator Rock Health to advise companies for the pediatric market, has also produced some promising digital health startups, including, providing a collaboration technology platform for patients and health care providers, and Epidemico, a health analytics company.

Here in Minnesota, the landscape for digital health startups is among the best. In fact, Minneapolis ranked fourth nationwide for digital health investment in the first half of 2015 (behind the San Francisco Bay area, New York City, and Boston). This is probably not a surprise, given the reputation of the Twin Cities as a great place to start a traditional medical device company. Events like the Health Rising Conference and MobCon Digital Health continue to fuel and support local health technology startups. The just-announced 2016 Life Science/Health IT Division Finalists of the Minnesota Cup (along with the previously announced semifinalists) include an innovative group of local life science/health IT startups to keep an eye on:

  • Geneticure LLC: a pharmacogenetic testing company providing unique genetic information to health care providers to determine the right course of treatment for patients suffering from hypertension
  • StemoniX: providing IPS-based platforms for pharma and research institutions
  • Zift Medical: a medical device startup, that has created the ZiftLift procedure to elevate tissue in the face for a brow-lift or forehead-lift

This new frontier of digital health startups has opened up tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs aiming to challenge the status quo in health care. Given the increasing competition in this field—and at the risk of sounding like an intellectual property (IP) lawyer—let me just say that it is crucial for digital health companies to implement strategies for developing an effective IP strategy. Oftentimes, given limited resources, developing a viable product and generating sales take priority to creating an IP protection and enforcement plan. However, understanding the tools available to protect intangible assets and setting aside resources to create an effective IP strategy can prevent costly mistakes and help capture value. 


  1. NIcely done Leah! Thanks for the great summary. I'd also like to throw in a big shout out to Health.MN as another very vibrant & vital event forum driving connections in the health space here in town.

  2. Thanks, Scott! The Twin Cities really is home to some great new technology opportunities in healthcare and some amazing forums and resources to foster early stage ventures in this space.

  3. Really interesting blog has been shared by you. before i read this blog i didn't have any knowledge about this. but now i got some knowledge about this. so keep on sharing such kind of an interesting blogs.
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