2020 pushed healthcare to new heights, and health startups played a key role in creating this new landscape; virtual care delivery has been widely adopted, digitization efforts have accelerated, and the first software-only therapeutic was approved by the FDA. While COVID-19 vaccines have arrived, much of 2021 will look the same as the year before, keeping health in the spotlight and driving significant funding in the space.
Here are 10 health startups making healthcare better for patients and providers alike:
Digital Therapeutics Health Startups
Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and the leading driver of healthcare costs. By working to change and improve habits, Second Nature sets out to make patients healthier, permanently. Second Nature offers a digital 12 week-program to address obesity and provides virtual support groups, education, and tracking options for weight, food intake, and exercise. With solutions like Second Nature, patients can lead healthier and longer lives.
With the pandemic continuing to affect daily life around the world in 2021, solutions for mental health are needed now more than ever. Meru Health offers a virtual 12 week-program to address anxiety, depression, and burnout. Through Meru, patients receive comprehensive support, including licensed therapists, psychiatrists, anonymous peer support, biofeedback, habit-changing activities, and mindfulness practices. A digital solution greatly improves access, meeting patients where they are and when they need help the most.
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Brain Health Health Startups
Within health and medicine, a popular saying is that prevention is the best cure. LivNao is a healthcare startup that uses that adage to passively track users for early-indicators of changes in mental health state. By doing so, LivNao can deliver just-in-time interventions and enable organizations, insurers, and healthcare systems to make better data-backed decisions alongside individuals. What began as a tool for workforce burnout prevention has expanded rapidly in the past year and can even apply the technology to support contract tracing during the pandemic.
Beyond mental health, the total cost of Alzheimer's, dementia, and stroke is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2030. Novoic uses comprehensive speech analytics to detect neurological disease decades earlier than current diagnostic methods. By identifying and monitoring subtle changes in speech patterns with AI, clinicians can intervene sooner to support the best health outcomes for patients.
At-Home Diagnostic Testing Healthcare Startups
Vocal biomarkers have been progressing in the digital healthcare space over the last couple of years and we’re excited to see them applied for cough detection and analysis to support covid-19 and other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, as well as chronic conditions. These types of virtual diagnostics are fast, affordable (relying on people’s existing cell phones), and accessible across geographies (rural vs urban, developing countries). Hyfe stands out for its ability to track organic, naturally occurring coughs, which provides more data variables than elicited, or forced, coughs (i.e. frequency, time of day, context, and amplitude).
Routine testing at a lab can be awkward and uncomfortable in the best of times. With technological advances and ingenuity, this experience can be transformed and testing expanded. TestCard is an at-home health testing solution that provides immediate results at a low cost. TestCard is a combination of a non-invasive urine test kit embedded into a postcard, with an accompanying app that turns a smartphone camera into a clinical grade scanner. We’re excited to see diagnostics become more comfortable, accessible, and affordable.
How else can we diagnose people at home? Through blood, of course! Curex offers at-home allergy testing, online doctor consultations, and allergy treatment services. 37.5 million people suffer from environmental allergies and immunotherapy is an effective treatment that goes beyond treating the symptoms and works to reduce the body’s response to allergens. What was once seen as an option only available at a doctor’s office is moving into the home with a simple finger prick blood testing kit to determine which allergens are causing the problem. From there, CureX connects patients via telemedicine to a doctor for a treatment plan and can set up a pain-free allergy drop regimen that replaces the more common allergy shot treatment.
Access to Healthcare Startups
Despite the Affordable Care Act in the United States, which extended health insurance to more Americans, many people remain under- or uninsured, missing out on preventative care and struggling to pay for healthcare services. The pandemic exacerbated this issue when many Americans lost their jobs and faced reduced household budgets. Mira offers affordable monthly membership plans to access basic healthcare services at partner clinics for fixed prices. While Mira doesn’t cover everything traditional health insurance does, such as hospital stays and surgery, it’s a great option to extend coverage and keep more people healthy.
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Despite the advances made in healthcare coverage and access to care in recent years, sometimes a visit to the hospital cannot be avoided. Hospitals lose $21M in revenue annually from treating uninsured patients who cannot pay for their emergency room and hospital visits. These patients are often eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, but they require onboarding assistance and access to other health services. The healthcare startup Care Advisors provides rapid access to social service benefits for hospitals and health plans. Patients are then set up to receive holistic support for their overall health, not just on demand medical care.
Digitalization Health Startups
Many emerging markets lag behind on digital transformation. In healthcare, paper-based systems lead to data that is not accessible or is unreliable, resulting in lower quality of care and less opportunities to advance the industry. At the same time, emerging markets are experiencing growing middle classes, rapid urbanization, and increased Westernization of lifestyles with noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes on the rise. Helium Health has developed a suite of software solutions that serves as the digital infrastructure for all healthcare stakeholders in Africa and other emerging markets: providers, payers, patients, and governments. By doing so, Helium is building a data network that can be leveraged by interested stakeholders for research, resource allocation, smart policy creation, and market entry.
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