Health tech / Startups

Can this Safeguard Scientifics-backed startup increase HPV vaccine rates?

Bryn Mawr startup Noble.MD built an educational app for patients to use while they wait for the doctor. CHOP is an early adopter.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in University City. (Photo courtesy of CHOP)

Even though the Center for Disease Control recommends that all children get the human papilloma virus (HPV) shot by the age of 12, just one-third of teen girls got it, according to a 2013 CDC memo. The number is even lower for boys: less than 14 percent of boys were vaccinated, as of 2013.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is using an iPad app from Noble.MD, a venture-backed startup based in Bryn Mawr, to get that vaccination rate up.
Called Theo, the app is a lightning educational session on health topics that wouldn’t necessarily be covered during a doctor’s visit, like vaccines or living wills. It features a three-minute video, plus questions to check comprehension and suggestions based on patient responses. Patients use it while they’re waiting in the exam room for their doctor, which is Noble.MD’s way of capitalizing on the long exam room wait times (22 minutes is the national average, said CEO Todd Johnson).
“When a patient goes into the doctor’s office, there’s such little time for a doctor to spend with the patient,” Johnson said. “Because of that, many things get overlooked.”

theo noblemd

(Screenshot via

Johnson and his CTO Dan Kelley describe Theo as a way to educate and engage a captive audience (the program’s video and question format has a higher engagement rate than a paper pamphlet, Kelley said) that saves time and reduce costs in the long run.
It’s on medical centers to buy the hardware necessary to run the program. Noble.MD only provides the software, which is only available to enterprise customers, not the public, and charges a monthly fee per user.
Other early customers include Florida’s Chen Neighborhood Medical Center, which used it to teach its senior citizen patients about the importance of the flu shot.
Noble.MD has raised $1.5 million from Safeguard Scientifics and angel investors, Johnson said. It plans to raise a Series A this year.
Johnson, 41, of Bryn Mawr, has been in the life sciences industry for two decades. He’s the president of Cytovas, a diagnostics company that spun out of Penn, and used to be a partner at Boston-based life sciences investment firm Ampersand. Johnson’s a Penn guy through and through: he got his undergrad degree, his MBA and his medical degree there.

Companies: Noble.MD / Safeguard Scientifics

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