Ten healthcare-focused startups pitched last Wednesday at DreamIt Health‘s demo day the traditional capstone to the four-month business “boot camp” offered by DreamIt Ventures.
But there was one main difference between this graduating class of startups and that of other accelerators, at least that Technical.ly Philly has seen: virtually all of them had launched pilot programs. These companies had doctors, medical students and other healthcare professionals using their product.
This difference was due, at least in part, to a partnership with local healthcare organizations. The first healthcare accelerator in the region, DreamIt Health is a joint venture between the six-year-old DreamIt Ventures, Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross. This partnership gave startups direct access to their target market.
The value of the partnership showed during demo day. One angel investor, Katherine O’Neill of Jumpstart NJ Angel Network, noted that the startups were further along than she had expected.
There was Seratis, a mobile app solution to the antiquated pagers that doctors and other hospital staffers still use to communicate, now being tested at Penn Medicine. There was Aircare, an app that prevents costly hospital readmissions using telenursing, or nursing through video, currently being piloted at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. There was Lucidity Health, a platform that lets healthcare professionals compare the price of drugs and medical tests, about to be piloted at seven Penn Medicine outpatient sites.
The partner organizations served another purpose, too: investment. While Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine took a small stake in the DreamIt Health companies, the way that DreamIt Ventures does with all its startups, Independence Blue Cross is also considering making larger investments in the partcipating startups, said Michael Vennera, Independence Blue Cross’s VP of Strategy and Innovation. Investing in healthcare startups is new territory for the insurance company, Vennera said.
Data was another benefit of the Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine partnership, as the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out. “[The startups] were able to build out their computer programs using electronic health records and claims data – scrubbed of personal identification – that typically are difficult for a start-up to access,” the Inquirer reported.
Like all DreamIt Ventures’ classes, the startups came from Philadelphia and elsewhere. While it’s too soon to tell, another benefit of the pilot programs and investments from DreamIt Health’s partner organizations could be that it keeps these startups in the region. At least one entrepreneur that came from out of town – Jacob Halpert, who founded Lucidity Health in New York – plans to stay in Philly, the Inquirer reported.
Four of the ten companies came from Philadelphia, while others came from New York City, Baltimore, Durham, N.C. and Santa Fe, N.M. Many of the founders were doctors or medical school dropouts.