Healthcare Technology Featured Article

March 17, 2014

Mobile Health Tech Development Outpacing Funding

About 180 venture capital firms invested in mobile health care technology in 2013 but less than ten percent did more than one deal, according to a TechCrunch panel at the Disrupt conference. Everybody wants more development in the mobile health device realm but there’s a big between startups and the real money that can put devices into production.

A few companies are stepping up to help developers move ahead with their mobile health tech ideas. Sprint just welcomed ten startups to the first Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator powered by TechStars, a three month intensive program to mentor entrepreneurs and help them develop their business structure. The companies each receive up to $20,000 in seed funds as well as the opportunity to pitch to investors and business leaders at the end of the process.

TechStars works to bring venture capital firms and angel investors together with startups and runs mentoring programs across the country similar to Sprint’s. One report from Research and Markets values the current mobile health market at $23 billion, expected to nearly triple over the next five years. But the market could outpace all expectations simply because of its size potential. Right now remote patient monitoring, records and data storage, and wearable tech all fall under the banner of mobile health, and those make up just a small part of recent innovations. Sprint’s incubator program is looking for applications in everything from diagnostic apps to products that assist with caring for parents, kids or even pets. reported on “17 Game Changing Health Start-Ups” which included virtual psychiatric care, apps to store your own health records, and a LinkedIn-style network for doctors. They also included Blueprint Health, one of TechStars accelerator programs based in New York City.

So if everyone else is so excited about mobile health why are investors leery? Perhaps precisely because there is so much competition. While healthcare information technology has been developing for a few years, apps and wearable tech are still in the testing and early adoption stages, when market feasibility and interest is unknown. Healthcare IT raised more than $2 billion in VC funding across 542 deals in 2013, a sharp contrast to the 180 VC deals cited by TechCruch.

Alpidia Barraza, research director at Mobile Health Market News, noted that, “Investors are exhibiting caution when it comes to putting money into products and services that directly impact patient care.” Barraza also said that they may be waiting to see how regulations are implemented before investing larger sums. In that case a new US Senate bill seeking to limit regulation of mobile health tech should inspire confidence.

The ten companies Sprint welcomed to their accelerator program are:

Akibah                         Blood sugar monitoring

Fitbark                         Health monitoring and interpretation for dogs

Lifeline Response        Emergency response alert system 

Medicast                     Doctors on demand via virtual connection

Ollo Mobile                 Wearable health monitor smartphone

Prime                          Collaborative effort to increase interoperability

Sickweather                Scans social media to create a map of illnesses                 Symptom tracking and patient management

Tenacity Health           Online wellness communities

Yosko                           Patient care coordination

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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