Featured Startup: HIPPOmsg

Meet this week’s featured startup, HIPPOmsg. I spoke with Rahul Shah, Co-Founder of HIPPOmsg and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.  At angelMD we are always excited to welcome a physician-founded startup to our network. Here’s what Dr. Shah has to say about his company.

angledMD: What is your company, in one sentence?

Dr Shah: A free secure messaging platform to efficiently and conveniently communicate patient information with colleagues and your own office using your desktop, iPad, or smartphone, without needing to know any back-lines, cellular numbers, or email addresses.

angledMD: What problem do you solve?

Dr Shah: First, texting protected health information is illegal; physicians and even answering services do this all the time!  The DHHS is not condoning such and has levied significant fines for HIPAA violations.  Physicians still text because they are awaiting a solution.

Secondly, providers spend on average fifteen minutes to find a colleague to communicate about a patient.  When I see a patient in the office and I need to discuss the patient with the referring physician, I first need to find their back-line or office number.  Once I do that and call them and go through their phone tree, I am put on hold while they are pulled out of a patient’s exam room.  Once I have the physician on the line we literally spend about 30 seconds discussing the patient.  Using HIPPOmsg, I can find the provider and send them a message and instantly and seamlessly provide information to the physician about their patient.  Hence, we have increased efficiency, communication, and ultimately improved the outcomes of our patients.

angledMD: What was the genesis of the company?

Dr Shah: On Superbowl Sunday in 2012, the co-founders were chatting as buddies do (Alex was Rahul’s chief resident in ENT residency in Boston) when they simultaneously received text messages from their residents about patients.  They both commented on how this was not secure and there had to be a better system.  A thorough competitive analysis ensued and we both realized that we were on to something.  We immediately contacted a HIPAA expert and retained him as our Security and Compliance Officer.  The whole platform has been built in lockstep with the security expert.  We went live in August 2012 and reached the critical 1000 user milestone in January of this year.  We have over two thousand practices and providers using the platform, and based on their use we realized that there was a huge need for our service.  In a couple of months we will be releasing a major version update which will be faster and sleeker, taking HIPPOmsg to the next level and allowing us to start monetizing the platform!

angelMD: What makes HIPPOmsg interesting to physicians from an investment perspective?

RS: Very rarely in our profession do we have the ability to invest in a company in which our daily habits can actually impact its success.  Every day we communicate with our colleagues about mutual patients, referrals, consultations, etc.  We answer pages and calls from hospitals, answering services, and staff. Imagine using HIPPOmsg to communicate this vital protected health information.  Not only would it be much faster and more convenient, you would be driving growth in a company that you are invested in!  We are both surgeons and built this platform to communicate with our offices; it was so successful that we scaled it up for a national roll-out.

The platform will always be free because in times of shrinking reimbursements, practices cannot afford to pay for expensive technology.  However, we are confident in our ability to monetize the platform and have five revenue streams (two of which will produce revenue for FY2013)!  Being physicians has allowed us to stay ahead of the competition – we know exactly what our colleagues need to make their practices more efficient. HIPPOmsg is one part of the solution.  We have built the platform for speed and security, consciously avoiding bells and whistles which may sound and appear attractive but woefully slow down the platform.

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Featured Startup: Kinsights

Pediatricians are a critical source of information for parents, but more than ever before, parents find themselves sifting through noisy and cluttered online parenting communities looking for the needle in the haystack that can help them make better parenting decisions. Now, parents have a new tool that can not only help them cut through that noise, but also helps them keep their child’s health records organized and up to date.

Meet angelMD’s featured startup of the week, Kinsights. The San Francisco-based team has designed a web- and mobile-based parenting community that intelligently leverages a pediatric personal health record. Much of the community is structured around a question-and-answer format, but users see only the most relevant content available, based on their profile and their children’s health records, helping useful conversations happen between parents with similar backgrounds and experiences. Likewise, parents can discover content other parents like them have been engaging with, so the community grows and evolves as your family does, from childbirth through adolescence.

Most recently, Kinsights launched its cloud-based pediatric personal health record, specifically for parents to track their important information, either for their own records, but also to share with family, caregivers, and even physicians. They developed the technology in conjunction with the White House office of Science and Technology Policy as part of their BlueButton health record initiative, and it allows parents to export all their Kinsights health record data into a format that is printer-friendly, patient-friendly, physician-friendly, and even EMR-friendly, coded with the same vocabularies used by Meaningful Use-compliant electronic medical record systems.

I recently had a chance to chat with M. Jackson Wilkinson, Kinsights Founder, to ask him a few questions:

What do physicians really need to know about Kinsights?
For physicians, having a Kinsights user as a patient means two things:

  1. They’ll have a useful, up-to-date history they can either print out or send in, and that history has the same codes under the hood as your EMR.
  2. They have a great place to go for all those non-medical parenting questions, and even have access to communities of parents whose kids have similar conditions. Just as Economist readers tend to be informed citizens, Kinsights users tend to be informed and engaged parents.

What is one disappointment you’ve worked through, and how did you get past it?
Our biggest disappointment so far has been finding that the Health IT community is so far behind the consumer software community when it comes to data formats, APIs, and tools. In Healthcare, software is built like it’s 1999. So not only did we have to build a lot of our own tools, but we also worked with the White House to improve the standards and tools available, especially when it comes to our medical records capabilities.

What is one thing you can’t live without, as you’re working on this start-up?
Our office space, generously provided by the SF SPCA, has been amazingl to keep us working effectively and on the same page. As far as technology is concerned, we use the Python language for almost everything on Kinsights, which gives us a great combination of power, productivity, and access to an amazing community of scientists and developers who have often solved our problems before. 

What would you say are the best and the worst things about being a startup?
The best thing about being a startup is the ability to really focus and pursue a vision as a team — we’re not in far-flung offices or communicating via spec docs or getting management’s approval; we’re sitting in the same room where we get amazing things done on a daily basis. The worst thing about a startup is, of course, the roller coaster of emotions that happen on a daily basis — while there are far more good things than bad that have happened to us, any given day can take a turn at any moment, and there’s no large support team down the hall to turn to. We have to do more with less, and that’s both an amazing and nerve-racking thing.

What is the single biggest misunderstanding about your product/company?
There are two large aspects to Kinsights: the community and the health records. Many people latch onto one or the other and wonder why we don’t drop the other piece, but the reality is that our product is miles more powerful because each of those pieces work together symbiotically. Without the records, we couldn’t suggest relevant content nearly as well, and without the community, no one would bother to keep their records updated. Our mission is to help parents make better decisions with the help of others who have been in their shoes before, and we couldn’t do it without both aspects of our product.

To learn more about Kinsights, check out their profile on angelMD.

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Featured Startup: LLTech

This week we would like to bring to light (pun intended) one of the world’s premier diagnostic imaging technologies: LLTech. Based in Paris, France, LLTech emerged in 2007 from research conducted by co-founder Claude Boccara . The resulting product is the Light-CT, a high-resolution imaging device for cellular-level biological tissue imaging. It performs non-invasive and non-destructive real-time optical biopsies.


LLTech boasts an impressive balance of Technological, Clinical and Commercial Expertise, with Bertrand Le Conte de Poly, Founder and CEO at the helm, LLTech is uniquely positioned to take the international imaging community by storm. Mr. Le Conte de Poly is an established leader in technology and product development in France and the US. He has managed several collaborations with major research and healthcare institutions such as M.D. Anderson, Institut Curie, and renowned Hospital Tenon.
The Light-CT system is a high-resolution (1µm 3D) pathology scanner that performs optical slicing beneath the tissue surface at selected depths. Within a few minutes, the tissue architecture and microstructure is revealed, in 2D and 3D, without damaging or modifying the sample under analysis.

In the context of tissue imaging for cancer diagnosis, LLTech anticipates the following benefits:

  • Better image quality: the full-field OCT technology employed by the Light-CT Scanner is the sole technique to offer axial resolution (i.e. in the vertical, z-axis) of 1 µm, which gives the best image clarity and precision.
  • Speed (rapidity of diagnosis): the technology currently enables image capture on a 1 cm2 region of tissue in 4 to 5 minutes, thereby enabling immediate quality control of biopsies.
  • Avoiding patient recall in the event of complex biopsies that require hospitalization and/or anesthesia.
  • Non-destructive technology that allows reuse of the biopsy: no need for dyes, contrast agents or tissue freezing
  • Analysis can be carried out remotely
  • Ease of use: LLTech products can be employed directly. No calibration or complex set-up procedure is necessary. User training is completed in under half a day.

Visit angelMD.co to see LLTech’s profile and more in depth video presentations on the Light-CT technology.

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Featured Startup: Cardiac Insight

Dr. David Linker, University of Washington cardiologist, has developed a heart monitor device that is poised to revolutionize stroke prevention. The Stealth Ambulatory Monitor is low cost, low profile and extremely accurate in diagnosing the most common cause of stroke, atrial fibrillation.

In 2010, Linker and CEO Brad Harlow founded Cardiac Insight to produce the device which, including batteries, is the size of a watchband and weighs as little as 10 quarters. It is attached to a patient’s chest with removable glue and can record a heartbeat for 7 days, uninterrupted. Once the Monitor is returned a report can be printed immediately in the physicians office. The report then reveals immediately if the patient suffers from atrial fibrillation.

Cardiac Insight plans to market their device to physicians for about $100 as a disposable Monitor. Compare this to the traditional Holter heart monitor that is cumbersome, has potentially unreliable data, and is expensive: the traditional device costs as much as $2,500.

The company has its license from Dr. Linker’s UW lab, and has attracted some well-known directors to its board, including former SonoSite chairman Kirby Cramer, former Physio-Control president Richard Martin and Dr. Robert Hauser, renowned cardiologist from the Minneapolis Heart Institute.

CEO Brad Harlow is excited to bring this device to market. It has the potential to reach millions of patients and Harlow says, “From an investment perspective, physicians understand it. Not only is it easy to see the value, they will use it themselves.” You can learn more about Cardiac Insight here.

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